The Fourth Sunday of Easter

As you know, I see things I read from time to time that seem ‘just right’ for this ‘thought for the week’. It has been an interesting thing for me this Easter season having decided to read and preach 1 Peter (the second reading this season) to start seeing each week links between the ‘resurrection reality’ of that empty tomb, the situation of the readers of 1 Peter (dispersed, strug-gling, having hard times – not the glory road one might expect following the man who beat death!), and our situation today. The biggest difference, I think, is that here in the UK and even in the US and Australia (with its separation of church and state) we are all living in a society that has had Christianity exercising power, shaping culture, setting ethics for a long time – a far thing from the situation of 1 Peter – but we’re now in the wane or decline of that situation. Christians and the church need wise heads to work out where to make stands in a world which is increasingly dismissive of them. Actually I think it always has been us working out where and how we serve the world in which we live. That is the resurrection reality each gen-eration faces.

So when I read 15th century Thomas à Kempis (in Treasury of Daily Prayer) who was talking to priests with the following quote – but it really is for all the people of God – I saw again this continuity that each generation of the disciples of Jesus fol-lows Jesus in the terrain they find themselves but we all need the same thing by which to live – Jesus, only, ever Jesus. The reformation bubbles were beginning to boil in a Kempis’ time but for him, the world was quietly lived under Pope and Prince. He would have had no idea what the forth-coming European and local elections here in the UK represent or mean about the shape of the world. (It’s a moot point if people do today!) However the truth remains that Christians still only really need Jesus as the starting point for life in all its fullness. And Jesus still doesn’t come in power but in hidden forms – serving – which is what his people seek to do too. Christ is risen!

I feel there are especially necessary for me in this life two things without which its miseries would be unbearable. Confined here in this prison of the body I confess I need these two, food and light. Therefore, You have given me in my weakness Your sacred Flesh to refresh my soul and body, and You have set Your word as the guiding light for my feet. Without them I could not live aright, for the Word of God is the light of my soul and Your Sacrament is the Bread of Life.

These also may be called the two tables, one here, one there, in the treasure house of holy Church. One is the table of the holy altar, having the holy Bread that is the precious Body of Christ. The other is the table of divine law, containing holy doctrine that teaches all the true faith and firmly leads them within the veil, the Holy of holies.

Thanks to You, Lord Jesus, Light of eternal light, for the table of Your holy teaching which You have prepared for us by Your servants, the prophets and apostles and other learned men.
Thanks to You, Creator and Redeemer of men, who, to declare Your love to all the world, have prepared a great supper in which You have placed before us as food not the lamb, the type of Yourself, but Your own most precious Body and Blood, making all the faithful glad in Your sacred banquet, intoxicating them with the chalice of salvation in which are all the delights of paradise; and the holy angels feast with us but with more happiness and sweetness. (Thomas à Kempis, The Imitation of Christ, IV,11).  — GS