“Are we nearly there yet?”
The sun has returned, caravans are on the roads and, barring another last-minute crisis, we will be able to enjoy a holiday this summer. Where are we going? How long will it take? The excitement is mounting. From the back seat comes that well-known cry “Are we nearly there yet?” It is said that ‘to travel hopefully is a better thing than to arrive’ but sat in an airport lounge as the flight is delayed yet again (perhaps not this year!), or stuck in a traffic jam (more likely); holiday travel tends to generate excitements we can do without. The journey has become a means to an end, the destination is what excites us. “Are we nearly there?”
The Gospels give us the journey of Jesus’ life from his birth in Bethlehem, to his death and resurrection in Jerusalem some 33 years or so later. Year-on-year we tell and retell the story. It is an exciting tale; full of incidents from his birth, through death and on to resurrection, ascension and the coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost. These are the exciting moments, yet we tell the tale in just 5 months. Now the excitement is over until Christmas approaches once more. As if to underline the point, the church calendar calls this ‘Ordinary Time’.
Jesus’ first disciples, and those who joined them in the years immediately following that first Pentecost, confidently expected his spectacular return in their lifetime. In the beginning, they were certainly not aware of living in ordinary time. They were convinced that the journey would soon be over, that they really were ‘nearly there’. As time went on, they began to realise that living out our natural span on earth in faithful service to Jesus was the new normal. Their call was to travel hopefully whilst leaving the arrival to God.
The excitement of Christmas, Easter, Pentecost are behind us for another year. Like those early followers, today we too are looking for a new normal; a return to ordinary times. Whatever the world may have in store for us over the coming months; let us remember that God calls us to live for him in the ordinary times of work and play, family and friends, prayer and worship.
Rev Philip Payne
The Notice Sheet for 27 Jun 2021 can be found here