The 3rd Sunday of Easter (26 April) by Revd Michael Freeman
Readings: Acts 214a & 36-41; 1 Peter 117-23; Luke 2413-35.
Among the many aspects of the covid 19 pandemic discussed at length in the papers and on radio and television has been its impact on the way we appreciate the world around us and how far it has changed our values and priorities.
While many have come to value electronic media as a way of keeping in touch, others have found the time to write letters and cards to family or friends, who in turn have enjoyed receiving something tangible from a loved one that can be read and re-read in a way that a phone call cannot be continued once the receiver has been put down.
We will all have things we normally take for granted that we have only come to fully appreciate now that they are no longer available, and there has certainly been a new appreciation of the people whom we now hail as “key workers” who do so many vital but commonly low paid jobs
Will these changed values and attitudes survive the return to normality in the coming months? I certainly remember during the fuel crisis some twenty years ago noticing the increasing number of people walking to local corner shops rather than driving to supermarkets, and stopping to chat with neighbours on the way. Within a matter of days after the filling stations re-opened the corner shops were abandoned to continue their slow decline and the neighbourly chats had been exchanged for a wave from the car, if that.
The Bible readings set for this Sunday deal with changing values and attitudes.
In the reading from the Gospel according to St Luke we meet two disciples who had gone from hope to disillusionment and despair but who were now filled with a new joy and excitement as they rushed back to tell the others their news. In the reading from Acts we find the crowd being challenged by Peter to come to a new understanding of Jesus of Nazareth and let that changed understanding shape their future lives.
In his letter to new converts to Christianity, Peter demands that our first loyalty must be to that “God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ” whom we serve in “reverent fear”. As we read more of this letter over the coming weeks, we shall hear examples of what Peter had in mind:
He teaches that our priorities should be determined by our call to follow Jesus. We are “to be a holy priesthood offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Christ Jesus… Each one of us should use whatever gifts he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms.”
He teaches that the example of Jesus is the one we should follow, even if it runs counter to our instinctive behaviour: “Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps… When they hurled insults at him he did not retaliate, when he suffered he made no threats. Instead, he entrusted himself to the one who judges justly.”
He teaches that our relationship with Jesus should shape all our other relationships. So when he discusses family life he demands a revolution in the conventional attitudes of his own and most later societies, where women have been treated as goods and chattels. “Husbands,” he writes, “treat your wives with respect … as heirs with you of the gracious gift of life.”
All these lessons are ones we have to try and carry through life. At the same time I would urge you as we struggle with the hardships and inconveniences of life at this time to try and look for the positive things there are, and take your appreciation of those into the years ahead.
For many the lockdown has brought a new awareness of things normally drowned out in the rush and hubbub of daily life. If we go out for exercise, we can do so in fresher and less polluted air. I now make our early-morning cuppa to the sound of birdsong rather than the roar of traffic going past the end of our road.
Communion service and sunday school
The Church of England welcomes all confirmed Anglicans and Christians of other denominations who would normally receive the sacrament of Holy Communion, to take communion in any of the Walton Team Ministry Churches.
If you would like a blessing, then you are very welcome to come forward and kneel at the altar rail with head bowed and hands below the rail. The priest will know then to bless you.
St Mary the Virgin (Walton Church) and St Aidan's Communion Service commence at 9.30 am on Sunday mornings. St Nathanael's Communion Service commences at 11 am. A number of services throughout the year, and in particular during August, are Team Services and these commence at 10.30 am.
Sunday School takes place during the Communion Service. Children are taken to Sunday School by experienced Sunday School Teachers, and return to Church in time for communion.