It doesn’t seem two minutes ago that I wrote the last one of these letters but I write this early as I am away for a few days. And Easter is now over – well actually that is not correct. Easter is never over for the Risen Christ is with us day by day. The challenge to us is to live as Easter people.
Jesus said,” I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.” What does it mean to live an abundant life? Certainly there are still difficulties in life, illness, challenges of no work or too much work, disappointments, and general frustrations. In the hurly burly, in the chaos, in the challenges how do you live an abundant life? What does it mean to us that we are invited to a feast and not a hunger lunch? Jesus offers us the way.
For it means that your life is centred on God. Jesus life was spent living the first commandment, he had a close relationship with God the Father. He lived that close life with God in the time he drew away from the crowds for prayer, in his obedience to the Father and in his compassion for others, which was an extension of loving God.
Just before Easter our grandson, Paul, came to visit and he was described as “full of life”. His eye ever on the closed door just in case it was open and he could escape to explore kitchen and study as well as the intriguing stairs, taking on the challenge of going over the coffee table instead of going round it or waking up at an early hour to confront the new day, these were all ways in which he showed himself “full of life”. His mother says, “he has no fear” and that seemed true as he engaged in these activities. In a similar way, as we live the abundant life that God offers to us, should not we keep our eyes on the open doors that lead to new experiences of faith and explorations of life, should not we tackle the obstacles in our way rather seek an easier way and should not we be willing to launch into the new leaving the old, which had been good and useful once, behind to tackle the fresh. God’s words to his people from the beginning of time have been, and still are, “Do not be afraid”. For just as we watched over Paul, guided his choices and steered him from danger so the God we know in Jesus watches over us.
That does not mean that we will necessarily have an easy time – Jesus didn’t – but as we know that God is with us and that He would never let us face more than we can bear then we can work through the difficulties. Of course, ultimately, as Jesus gave himself for the love of those he came to serve, Jesus faced the Cross and there may be times when we too feel abandoned by God. It is then that we really need to keep strong in faith.
In her book “Bread in our Hands” Julie Hulme describes “more life” or abundant life as, “ satisfaction, fruitfulness, contentment peace” and then continues,” There are qualities which make us feel more alive, that give us our personal vitality and determine our quality of life. They shape our energy into the particular form most appropriate to the task in hand: love, understanding, strength, joy, ideas, peace discernment wisdom, patience, flexibility, kindness, generosity, forgiveness, grace, hope, faithfulness, justice, gentleness, courage or self-control. These qualities are not “optional extras”. They are “food for the journey”; they make it possible for us to travel in faith, hope and love.”
Some of the above qualities are gifts, others we have to work to cultivate and develop but all are possible as we receive life and strength from God who gives to us abundantly through the work of the Holy Spirit… but that is a subject for next month.
Do not be afraid, live life and the God we know in Jesus is with us.
God bless you and keep you always,