Letter from St Mark's House

St Mark's House

June - July 2020

 

Dear friends 

Christians can sometimes seem out of touch with the real world. Ascension Day may reinforce that impression and, celebrated mid-week (21st May), it can be overlooked - but marks the culmination of Christ’s work on earth and its continuation in the world by his followers. As Christ was taken up into heaven (1) the disciples may have seemed to have their ‘heads in the clouds’ but in fact their lives were truly ‘down to earth’. 

The Earth is the Lord’s; he is King, but we’ve tried to wear the crown with disastrous results. The coronavirus is a fitting reminder of this, aptly named because, microscopically, its surface appears covered with structures like a ‘corona’ – Latin for ‘crown’. In fact, all of our problems flow from our attempts to wear the crown that belongs to God alone. We all act like little gods, with our own crowns. The coronavirus reminds us of the disease, disaster and death which result when the crown is usurped. The virus of human sin and consequent suffering are pandemic but have been ignored or avoided until coronavirus rampaged across the globe. Now we cannot ignore it, nor the big questions about life and death which it prompts:“Pain is God’s megaphone to rouse a deaf world." (2)
 
The coronavirus raises questions which have plagued people throughout history. In Jesus’ time the headlines might have been about a gruesome massacre of worshippers or a fatal building accident (both recorded in Luke’s Gospel 13 v1-5). The news hasn’t changed that much. People asked Jesus about these incidents, with implicit questions about human responsibility or divine retribution, moral evils and natural disasters or diseases. Jesus responded, calling them and us to consider our priorities and values. He calls for repentance - not for superficial changes, but radical realignment of life. 

This global pandemic takes away our freedom, our finances, and even our future. The suffering and sorrow we see around us all go back to our basic rebellion against God. Because of his great love, God did not leave us to suffer the consequences of our   foolish rebellion; He acted to save us. He sent his own Son into our world as the man, Jesus of Nazareth, who wore a crown of thorns as he went to the cross to suffer in our place. He died so we might be forgiven and follow him to receive the crown of life. The disciples were told that Jesus will return as God’s appointed judge of the world to whom we must be prepared to give account. Therefore, in the words of the current slogan: “Stay alert!” Don’t stand looking up to heaven but, with feet firmly on the ground, take the good news of Christ throughout the world, witnessing to the living hope made possible through the resurrection of Jesus - now crowned as King of kings.

Staying alert!


Nick and Harriet

(1) The account of Christ’s Ascension is in the Bible: Gospel of Luke 24.45-53, Acts 1.8-11; (2) C. S. Lewis