The Fourteen Stations of the Resurrection

1. St Thomas

A week later his disciples were again in the house, and Thomas was with them. Although the doors were shut, Jesus came and stood among them and said, ‘Peace be with you.’ Then he said to Thomas, ‘Put your finger here and see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it in my side. Do not doubt, but believe.’ Thomas answered him, ‘My Lord and my God.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe.’  John 20.24-30

After the horror of the cross, Thomas quite simply refused to go along with others in the group who said that they had seen the Lord. He is a thoroughly modern character. He is like those people who refuse to believe in a good God, because they cannot accept the terrible suffering that has disfigured our world. To such people it is unacceptable to airbrush suffering out of existence, to smooth away the mockery of torture with bland words. There is an honesty in this and an integrity.

Thomas was always honest in speech. On an earlier occasion, Jesus said that he was returning to the seething cauldron of Jerusalem. Thomas sensed danger. He said resignedly to the other disciples: ‘Let us also go, that we may die with him’ (John 11.16). Another time, Jesus was preparing his disciples for his death. He told them that they knew the way to the place where he going. Thomas replied – is there a hint of exasperation here? – ‘Lord we do not know where you are going.  How can we know the way?’ Jesus replied gently: ‘I am the way, and the truth, and the life’ (John 14.4-6).

In our icon, Thomas stoops to examine closely the wounds in the side of Christ. He is like a scientist determined to weigh up the evidence. You almost expect him to have a magnifying-glass in his hand. His right hand even seems to be prodding the gash in Christ’s torso. Jesus exposes nearly his whole upper body to Thomas’s gaze.

Thomas is like us in so many ways. We want proof. We want explanations. We may truly believe, and yet still experience doubts. We may truly believe, and yet experience doubts. Such things do not disqualify us as Christians. We need sometimes to stay with the questions, so that we arrive at a deeper understanding. The faith of Thomas crumbled after the crucifixion, yet he continued to meet with the Church even during his time of doubt, he came to know and believe in the risen Lord.

An ancient tradition holds that Thomas became an evangelist, preaching Christ crucified and risen. Certainly the ancient orthodox church of South India looks back to Thomas as its founder. His scepticism and his asking of questions did not prevent Thomas from reaching a deep and strong faith. Ultimately, though, it is not scientific proof that brings us to Christ, it is our ability to enter into a relationship with him. We need the honesty of Thomas. But we also need the ability to recognise that God in Christ became vulnerable for our sake, exposed himself to our gaze and invites us gently to become his friends and followers.

We adore you and praise you, O Risen Lord

Because by your cross and Resurrection you bring life to the world.

Christ our brother,

You entered into suffering

When you entered into our world.

Give us courage to touch your wounds,

And to find there the answer to our doubts.

Give us insight to see in your wounds

The wounds of the world

And send us out

To bind the broken-hearted in your name.

2. Emmaus

Now on that same day two of them were going to a village called Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem, and talking with each other about all these things that had happened.  While they were talking and discussing, Jesus himself came near and went with them, but their eyes were kept from recognising him.

  … As they came near to the village to which they were going, he walked ahead as if he were going on.  But they urged him strongly, saying, ‘Stay with us, because it is almost evening and the day is now nearly over.’  So he went in to stay with them.  When he was at the table with them, he took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to them.  Then their eyes were opened, and they recognised him; and he vanished from their sight. Luke 24.13, 28-31 

Our artist has captured the shock of recognition.  And it is true, is it not, that whenever we glimpse Christ in our world, there is often a sense of shock?  We use the name of Jesus ceaselessly in prayer, we read the gospels, we talk about him.  The very name of Jesus has become a swear word through profanity.  All this has dulled our expectations.  We lose the sense that Jesus is very much among us and with us.  So when we see him among us, there is a momentary surprise.

We glimpse Christ in different ways.  Sometimes we glimpse him in the lives of believers.  Where Christian people find courage in bereavement, for example, or where they strive for forgiveness where hatred might be expected, or where they endure suffering strengthened by the memory of the crucified one, here we may sense the presence of Jesus.  Sometimes, though, we wonder if Jesus is moving unseen through multitudes of people, such as those times when some disaster arouses a widespread compassionate response on the other side of the world.

The moment of recognition at Emmaus came during the breaking of the bread.  It is this action that identifies Jesus to the two disciples.  We are meant to understand that this was a characteristic gesture of Jesus.  What he had done with them, he is doing once again.  It points us to the Eucharistic bread, generation after generation of Christian people through the centuries have felt that Christ is there.  In our icon, the younger disciple on the right looks at the bread, while the older disciple looks at the Risen Lord.  This double gaze at Christ and the bread symbolises how the bread is to be seen as Christ among us; the bread of the Eucharist brings us the real presence of Christ.

We might long to stay with the Lord, but somehow this is always a moment in our lives.  Like those disciples on the road to Emmaus, no sooner do we glimpse the Lord than he vanishes from us.  This is suggested in the icon by the way his right leg is raised: in the very moment of giving himself, he is ready to move on.   Christ is with us as grace, but he is not with us like some possession to be greedily grasped.  Rather, he is the bread of life because he is bread for life, encouraging us to go out and continue his presence in the world by the quality of our own living.

We adore you and praise you, O Risen Lord

Because by your death and Resurrection you give life to the world.

If we knew how often you draw close to us,

Then our hearts would burn within us,

For you are with us still,

And you journey alongside us.

Lord, in our journey through life,

encourage us by the breaking of bread.

Let this mystery draw us into a communion

Of life and love with you, the Risen Lord.

3. The Earthquake

Jesus on the cross cried with a loud voice and breathed his last.  At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom.  The earth shook, and the rocks were split.  The tombs also were opened, and many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised.  After his resurrection they came out of the tombs and entered the holy city and appeared to many.  Now when the centurion and those with him, who were keeping watch over Jesus, saw the earthquake and what took place, they were terrified and said, ‘Truly this man was the Son of God’.  Matthew 27.50-54

If you visit the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem you will find a large rock underneath the Calvary Chapel.  The rock is split, and you can see a streak of red running through it.  A tradition associated with the rock says that when the blood of Jesus trickled on to the ground, it fell on the place where Adam and Eve were buried, and they too were brought to eternal life in Christ.

The story illuminates our deep longing that as many people as possible may find life in Christ.  Christ, after all, brings us the generous love of God.  We know that the power of Christ’s resurrection reaches forward to embrace all people who acknowledge God in Christ.  Why, then, should it not reach back through time to embrace all those who never had a chance to hear of Christ?  This is the subject of our icon here, and it is one of the ways Christian tradition has interpreted 1 Peter 3.18-20, and the phrase in the Apostles Creed in which we affirm that Jesus ‘descended into hell’.

In our icon, Adam and Eve symbolise the whole human race, in this case, all those who were born in the generations before Christ.  The cross has torn open the earth that held them in the stillness of death.  The placing of the cross reminds us of what is sometimes called the harrowing of hell:  the cross, like a plough, tears into hell itself to set its captives free.

In our icon, Christ reaches out to lift Adam to his feet.  Beside him, Eve opens her hands to the Lord in acknowledgment, although it also seems as if she is clapping her hands in delight.

The robe of Christ is black shot through with gold.  There is black on his robe because death remains an earthly reality.  It can still bring heartache.  But the gold shows that the love of God in Christ has removed the sting of death.  The grief and separation of death will have their way only for a time.  Ultimately, the love of God will prevail.  As Jesus says, ‘Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted’ (Matt. 5.4).

There is something awesome about death.  It seems so final.  It comes to the high and mighty, just as it comes to the poor and the weak.  No one is exempt.  But there is a power even greater than death: the power of God, who is love.  Love gives life, and God, in Christ , draws us to share his Son’s resurrection.

Our icon shows ghostly figures below.  They are blinking at the cross in the daylight as Christ’s cross bursts the walls of their prison.  The cross an instrument of death has become now an instrument of life.

These shadowy figures remind us that there are others still locked in a world of sadness and oppression, waiting for Christ to break through and set them free.  This draws our attention back to our own times.  It reminds us that there are many who feel trapped in their lives, with no way out.  Jesus takes them by the hand – takes us by the hand – and invites us to join him in the way to life.

We adore and praise you, O Risen Lord

Because by your death and resurrection you give life to the world.

Lord do not let the tomb enclose me.

The tomb of self-doubt and anguish.

The tomb of cynicism or indifference.

The tomb of selfishness.

The tomb of hurt and despair.

Always, dear Christ,

Reach down and draw me out.

Set me on my feet again

and send me on my way,

comforted by the knowledge

that you are the hidden presence beside me,

knowing that I am not alone,

but part of a great company of people

to whom you give life.

4. Disciples at the Tomb

Mary Magdalene ran and went to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one whom Jesus loved, and said to them, ‘They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid him.’  Then Peter and the other disciple set out and went toward the tomb.  The two were running together but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first.  He bent down to look in and saw the linen wrappings lying there,  but he did not go in.  Then Simon Peter came, following him, and went into the tomb.  He saw the linen wrappings lying there, and the cloth that had been on Jesus’ head, not lying with the linen wrappings but rolled up in a place by itself.  Then the other disciple who had reached the tomb first, also went in, and saw, and believed; for as yet they did not understand scripture, that he must rise from the dead.  Then the disciples returned to their homes.   John 20.1-10

They ran.  Half-hoping, half-puzzled, they ran.  Now they are there, Peter bends over the tomb, out of breath and astonished.  The Lord is not there.  The lid of the tomb is on a pile of rocks behind, as if thrown off by some mighty force bursting the tomb from within.  The rocks themselves seem split by the force of the resurrection.  The stifling tomb cannot hold back the Christ.  The weight of history cannot entomb him.  Divine life and divine love have defeated death and cheated it of its power.  And this is a victory not only for Christ, but for all of us who through faith and baptism are now part of the mystical body of Christ.  This is why the tomb here is shaped like a coffin, for the defeat of death won by Christ has been won for us all.

As yet Peter, on the left cannot take it all in.  He is still in shock, amazed and joyful. trying to understand it, his arm lifted in a gesture of astonishment.  From the Gospels we know that Peter was not only warm-hearted but also impulsive.  The figure of Peter has been caught in motion, showing this ever-active man as he begins to grasp what has happened.  John, on the other hand, is shown in a  more contemplative pose.  It is as if he has intuitively understood this awesome, unique event.  His hand and arm resting peacefully on his chest, he looks down in wonder at this mighty deed of God.

Whether we are active or contemplative, there is a place for us both in the resurrection life of Christ.  Perhaps it is best if we realise that in some ways most of us are both active and contemplative, for life has rhythms.  There are times when we have to be doing, achieving, working, striving to build with Christ the kingdom of God.  There are times when we need to be silent, to heed the work of the Spirit within us, to attend to the mystery of God, drawing us deeper into the source of life and love.

Our Gospel passage seems to end in a rather limp way.  After this astonishing discovery of the empty tomb, we read that the disciples ‘returned to their homes’.  What an anti-climax!  Or is it?  Surely the truth here is that just as God incarnated his love by committing himself to us in Christ, so we, as followers of Christ, have to incarnate God’s love in our everyday living and commitments.

We adore you and praise you, O Risen Lord

Because by your death and resurrection you give life to the word.

Holy God,

Please touch our lives with your grace,

especially when life seems dull

And full of routine.

When we need to discover you afresh,

Send us others who will be witnesses to us

Of your love,

Messengers of Christ’s resurrection,

Open our hearts to their message

That the stone is rolled away.

5. Appearance at Galilee

Just after daybreak, Jesus stood on the beach;  but the disciples did not know that it was Jesus.  Jesus said to them, ‘Children, you have no fish, have you?’  They answered him, ‘No.’  He said to them, ‘Cast the net to the right side of the boat, and you will find some.’  So they cast it, and now they were not able to haul it in because there were so many fish.  That disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, ‘It is the Lord!’  When Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he put on some clothes, for he was naked, and jumped into the sea.  But the other disciples came in the boat, dragging the net full of fish, for they were not far from the land, only about a hundred yards off.  Jesus said to them, ‘Come and have breakfast.’  Now none of the disciples dared to ask him, ‘Who are you?’ because they knew it was the Lord.  Jesus came and took the bread and gave it to them, and did the same with the fish.  This was now the third time that Jesus appeared to the disciples after he was raised from the dead. John 21.4-9, 12-14

Peter and John returned to their old jobs of fishing on the sea of Galilee.  Sometimes, after a period of great distress, the routines and rhythms of work can be comforting.  In such circumstances there can be a healing power in the familiar, fir it distracts the mind from grief.

Here, as in Jerusalem, the shock of the resurrection confronted them.  Jesus appears on the shore as they are fishing in that calm early light of dawn.  He has another calling in mind for them, just as three years before he had invited John (and his brother James) to become ‘fishers of men’ (Mark 1.17).  No doubt Peter and John felt themselves to be ordinary people.  But Jesus calls the ordinary and works through them.  Jesus even calls the flawed – Peter after all, was rash and impulsive, and under interrogation had denied Jesus.  Perhaps we ought to think of Jesus as working with our flaws, like a sculptor working a flaw in the rock in such a way that it becomes incorporated into the whole.

In our icon we see the hands of Jesus stretched out almost as if imploring.  He has a task for them.  Indeed, he will first heal Peter’s shame at denial and then ask him to take care of what will soon be a growing church.  We see the net stretched over the side of the boat, full of fat fish, stretching under their weight.  From early days the Church has seen this a reference to itself, a pointer to its growth and expansion across the face of the earth.  Peter and the other apostles will have to play their part in hauling in this spiritual harvest.

John, on the left, lifts his hand in recognition and wonderment.  The face of Peter, on the right, shows a wonderful dawning awareness of who this mysterious person on the shore is.  With his usual impulsiveness – arising out of a loving heart – Peter will jump into the water.  Why did none of them dare ask who he was?  Perhaps to have done so would have broken the magic of the moment.  Sometimes we do simply feel the presence of God, a presence beyond words.  And when this happens you do not interrogate God.  You just savour the moment.

We adore you and praise you, O Risen Lord

Because by your death and resurrection you give life to the world.

Sometimes Lord,

We would like to immerse ourselves in work,

and in the demands of the moment.

And yet you await us even there,

Asking our response.

You, the human face of God,

Invite us to work with you

And to complete the mission which you began.

You continue to work

through all who believe in you.

Give us the courage to answer your call.

6. The Ascension

The Risen Christ led the disciples out as far as Bethany, and, lifting up his hands, he blessed them. While he was blessing them, he withdrew from them and was carried up into heaven. And they worshiped him, and returned to Jerusalem with great joy;  and they were continually in the temple praising God. Matthew 24.50-53

In everyday English, heaven can mean two things. It can mean the place of eternal happiness in the direct presence of God.  Or it can mean the sky, as when we say, ‘The heavens opened, it poured down.’ Both come together in the Ascension of Christ. His earthly mission completed, he returns to the eternity from which he came. But he does not desert humankind. Rather, his presence is to be found everywhere and at all times, just like the sky surrounding the earth.

When he walked and talked in the land of his birth, only a few people could be privileged to feel his presence. Now that he is in eternity, however, he is close to all who call upon his name, to all who seek him and are inspired by him. The Ascension is therefore not a symbol of the departure of Christ, it is, rather, a sign of the presence of Christ. There is no place that is without Christ, just as there is no time that is without him.

The heavens that encircle our tiny planet, become a symbol of the universal presence of Christ.  Accordingly, in our icon, Jesus the Christ is borne upwards to the heavens, a sign that he will now be everywhere. This icon conveys an ethereal lightness. Christ is not a burden. The angelic beings carry him upwards with ease, for as perfect love he is a blessing. The shimmering gold of his robe speaks of the glory that is his as the son, at the right hand of the Father.

It is so heart-warming to read that the last glimpse the disciples have of Jesus, he is blessing them. This icon conveys that blessing not with a lifted right arm, but with both arms of Jesus extending down towards the world and all its peoples as he is borne away. These outstretched arms are a symbol of his love for the world that continues unbroken from eternity. Christ stretches both arms over the earth beneath him in a fulsome gesture of blessing.

At the same time, those arms reach towards us. For Christ in eternity continues to reach towards us, especially through his mystical body, the Church. He reaches out to us in the sacraments, in the Gospels, and in the lives of men and women who are examples of Christian living.

We adore you and praise you, O Risen Lord

Because by your death and Resurrection you give life to the world.

Let your blessing be upon us, Lord

Reach out to us today in blessing,

That we may be fruitful.

We speak of lifting up our hearts,

because the joy of faith

increases our vision and enlarges our hopes.

Draw our hearts and minds upwards

So that even in the busyness of our everyday life

We may aim higher, and seek your inspiration.

7. Pentecost

Jesus said:  ‘When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth;  for he will not speak on his own, but will speak whatever he hears, and he will declare to  you the things that are to come. He will glorify me, because he will take what is mine and declare it to you.’  John 16.13-14

This icon depicts Pentecost, but not as a one-off event. Rather, it helps us to understand Pentecost as a process continuing through time as the Spirit of God moves throughout the world.

The spirit is depicted as an orb, like the sun, its rays reaching down towards Mary and the apostles. As the Spirit flickers towards them we notice that it’s symbolic rays are coloured green, a reminder that fruitfulness is one of the gifts of the Spirit.

It is the Spirit also that drives the Church outward, making us evangelists. If we believe in God, we cannot stand still. We must give an account of the hope that is in us. The fruits of this are seen in the figure of the king emerging out of darkness. We know that in history missionaries often converted kings or other leaders first, because this would encourage their followers to come after them. So the king is represents the achievement of the Church in bringing the gospel to the pagan world.

The king has heard the good news of Christ risen from the dead:  hence he carries in his hand white garments. These garments remind us of Christ, set free from the tomb, just like the king who emerges out of darkness. But the white garments are also a symbol of baptismal robes, baptism setting the seal on our Christian commitment and joining us to the mystical body of Christ, the Church.

Around the tomb the apostles and Mary give their affirmation. The hands of the apostles are lifted in blessing, while the arms of Mary rise in praise and intercession.  She pleads for many, constantly, for all the saints in eternity she has been uniquely privileged. Looking at the icon we see that around her head are Greek words which tell us that she is ‘Mother of God’. Through her, the Christ, the Messiah has come into the world, human and divine.

There is a unity here among the apostles and Mary. Each figure is distinct, yet each sits comfortably with the others, for the unity of the Church does not mean uniformity, but rather harmony. Some of the disciples are robed in red, because in the history of the Church in virtually every age, there have been men and women who have paid for their faith with their lives.

We adore you and praise you, O Risen Lord

Because by your death and resurrection you give life to the world.

We are one people,

Drawn from many nations.

Holy Spirit, go-between God,

Weave your people ever more closely together

So that our faith in action

And the joy of our worship

May draw others to know you.

8. Conversion of Paul

Meanwhile, Saul, still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord, went again to the high priest and asked him for letters to the synagogues at Damascus, so that if he found any who belonged to the Way, men or women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem.  Now as he was going along and approaching Damascus, suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him.  He fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to him, ‘Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?’ 

He asked, ‘Who are you, Lord?’

The reply came, ‘I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting.  But get up and enter and city, and you will be told what  you are to do.’ Acts 9.1-6

In every religion, it seems, there are those who profit by finding fault with their neighbour’s religious errors.  Saul of Tarsus began by being one of those.  The gaily caparisoned horse in the background speaks of an ambitious man of power, someone on the way up keen to impress others.  He was literally stopped in his tracks by a vision of Jesus, who uses the language of closely identifying himself with his followers.  So close, in fact, that to hurt them is to hurt him:  ‘Saul why do you persecute me?’

Yet the Christ we see here is not a figure of wrath.  True, the horse, frightened by the flashing light, turns its head away.  But there is no anger here.  Rather, there is a double pleading.  As Saul lifts up his hand to implore the Lord, the Lord gestures to Saul, calling him to stop the persecution.  As if to underline the gentleness of Christ, there is no attending army of angels, just the vision of the Lord.

The Christ figure floats effortlessly above the world.  There is a serenity here.  Perhaps we might like him to be more involved in the fray.  But in his people, Christ is already present in all the suffering and striving of our world.  Perhaps it is better that he is above the fury and the clamour, so that his voice and his presence can remind us of the power of good, and the good of love.

As a sign of his new beginning, Saul becomes Paul.  He has literally lost his way.  Disoriented, he falls to the ground.  For a time he will be blind and will have to feel and fumble his way forward like he begins to do here with his right hand groping for the rock.  .  It can be like that with new beginnings.  As the old falls away, so does the familiar, and it will take time to learn to see anew – to see, in fact, with eyes touched by grace.  In the same way much of the spiritual life is learning to see again.

We adore you and praise you O Risen Lord

Because by your life and Resurrection you give life to the world.

Lord Jesus Christ,

There are still many who suffer for their faith in you.

Give them courage and hope.

Where we face sneers or jeers,

Give us courage and hope also.

May those who suffer

Be given the support and protection

Of their brothers and sisters in the faith elsewhere.

Bind together the Church across the world

In such a way

That its witness under persecution

May turn the hearts of the persecutors

and show them

That whoever persecutes your followers

Persecutes you.

9. Simon Peter

Jesus made the disciples get into the boat and go on ahead to the other side … by evening the boat, battered by the waves, was far from the land, for the wind was against them.  And early in the morning he came walking towards them on the sea. But when the disciples saw him walking on the sea they were terrified … But immediately Jesus spoke to them and said, ‘Take heart, it is I;  do not be afraid.’ Simon Peter answered him, ‘Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.’ Jesus said, ‘Come.’ So Peter got out of the boat, started walking on the water, and came toward Jesus. But when he noticed the strong wind, he became frightened, and beginning to sink, he cried out, ‘Lord, save me!’ Jesus immediately reached out his hand and caught him, saying to him, ‘You of little faith, why did you doubt?’ When they got into the boat the wind ceased. And those in the boat worshipped him, saying, ‘Truly you are the Son of God.’  Matthew 14.22-32

In this time of pandemic much that we thought was solid has disappeared beneath our feet. Suddenly, like Peter, we find ourselves sinking into a sea of uncertainty. An invisible enemy threatens our health. Jobs are suspended and may vanish entirely. Simple pleasures like visiting friends are forbidden. Shopping for everyday necessities becomes fraught with anxiety. This is a storm that has swept across our world, and like big storms at sea, even when it passes this will leave enormous waves in its wake.  We fear that this virus may sweep away what we have laboured over the years to build up as families, as communities, even as nations. It is as if the whole world is troubled, and at the same time this crisis affects each of us, personally.

Our icon shows a frightening tempest. The sail of the boat bulges with the onslaught of the wind, and even the fish are being tossed around in the foam-flecked water. It is like a picture of our times. Nature is disturbed. Things fall apart.

Under times of great stress, even the comfort of our faith in God can seem to ebb away. In the gospel above, Peter jumps out confidently and at first strides across the water. But when he takes his eyes away from Jesus and focuses on the wind-lashed water, he begins to sink. Peter’s vulnerability is emphasised by his nakedness. As men and women of faith we may venture forth strong and committed, having been given a sense of God’s closeness. But the pressures of life take their toll, God seems further away, and we feel exposed to the blast of the storm. It is an instant comfort for us to know that the Son of God experienced the buffeting and turmoil of life too. He knew fear just as we know fear. He felt physical and mental pain just as we do.

Look at the icon again. Jesus enters the raging sea to rescue Peter. This is true to everything we know about God. The Holy One does not leave us to sink in the waves of life that are buffeting us. Instead he comes right into the chaos and holds us fast. There is a moment after the entry into Jerusalem when Jesus knows in his heart of hearts that the authorities will be hunting for him. He says out loud: ‘Now my soul is troubled. And what should I say – “Father, save me from this hour?” No, it is for this reason that I have come to this hour’ (John 12.27). We are the reason. So he chooses not to hide, nor to flee – this will cost his life, but it is for our lives, not his, that he has come into the world. And so he wades into the midst of life to be at our side, just as he wades into the midst of the sea to grab Peter and hold him fast.

Peter’s prayer is the prayer of all of us down the ages, when the waves are stormy, or the drop around us seems terrifying:  ‘Lord, save me.’  Here is honesty.  Here is brevity.  Here is urgency.  It is true prayer.  The humiliation that we feel in times of fear strips us of the illusion of self-sufficiency and opens us up to God.

There was another time when Peter jumped into the sea to come to Jesus. Do you remember it? It is after the crucifixion. Peter and a small group of disciples are fishing as dawn breaks over the Sea of Galilee. A familiar figure shouts hello from the shore. John gasps, ‘It is the Lord!’ At these words Peter immediately jumps into the sea and makes his way to the shoreline and where Christ is waiting. Only this time Peter wraps some clothes around him before swimming or wading to the Risen Lord (John 21.7). I like to think of Peter wrapping not just clothing around him, but also wrapping himself in hope, and love, and joy. It was because he experienced the resurrection life of Jesus, that he was able to clothe himself like this. It is the same resurrection life that comes to us now in the perplexities of our times, a life and a love that holds us fast even should our spirits sink. For God always keeps his promises.

Holy God,

when the waves reach high

and fear seizes our heart,

we look to you.

Reach out and hold us fast.

Speak words of reassurance deep in our soul.

Remind us that Jesus in his life, death and resurrection

has shown us that your love reaches out and embraces the world.

In that love carry us through

to a new and better day,

when we will give you thanks

and praise your holy name.

Through Christ our Lord.