Welcome to my blog, the View from the Vicarage where I have been loosely following the Acts of the Apostles and of course digressing on other matters.
The idea of looking through this wonderful account of the early church was to see what widom it might have for the church as it went into lockdwon – as we see those restrictions lessen we are taken to Chapter 23.
My last blog on Acts The View from the Vicarage: All Gods Children saw St Paul under arrest and on trial and this is the theme of the next few chapters. St Paul is on trial for teaching about Christ, he has offended the Jews and is being questioned, threatened and abused, he is locked up becuase the commander fears for Paul’s life – given this experience of St Paul he must surely have wondered if it was all worth it.
In a wonderful moement in Chapter 23:11 we read ‘The following night the Lord stood near Paul and said, “Take courage! As you have testified about me in Jerusalem, so you must also testify in Rome‘
In the dark of night, in danger and despair Jesus comes to Paul and stands near him – the re-assurance of God’s presence is what he needs, to have Jesus at his side in the toughest moment. We can be assured that God is with us too, not necessarily to make it all better, but to travel with us in our time of need and in our time of pain. That may be many things for many people, the coronavirus and its effects on your life, the reality of the racism that has been brought out into the open recently – it could be a very personal struggle of your own. In these moments the Lord stands near us.
As we saw with St Paul though he did not just stand their for re-assurance but bids Paul to take courage, reminding him that his mission is worthwhile, his calling great and he must use that courage to continue.
Courage is something we all need right now, perhaps in re-engaging with life after lockdown, perhaps with our own mental health and the way all of this has affected it. The author Mark Twain reminded us courage is not the absence of fear, it is resistence to it and mastery of it – what better way to master fear than with out Lord and Master by our side.
For the church we are reminded that God stands with us always, and at the height of our difficulty – as we try to move on to the next step of what it means to be church we too are told by Jesus – Take Courage!
In his hymn of 1882 George Matheson understtod what it meant to go through hard times – for anyone going through tough times this hymn is for you:
O Love that wilt not let me go,
I rest my weary soul in thee;
I give thee back the life I owe,
that in thine ocean depths its flow
may richer, fuller be.
O Light that follow’st all my way,
I yield my flick’ring torch to thee;
my heart restores its borrowed ray,
that in thy sunshine’s blaze its day
may brighter, fairer be.
O Joy that seekest me through pain,
I cannot close my heart to thee;
I trace the rainbow thro’ the rain,
and feel the promise is not vain
that morn shall tearless be.
O Cross that liftest up my head,
I dare not ask to fly from thee;
I lay in dust life’s glory dead,
and from the ground there blossoms red,
life that shall endless be.
Your friend and Vicar