Thursday, 31 March 2016

Word of life

The risen Jesus appears to his disciples as they are discussing all that has happened and wondering what it means for them. When he appears he has to reassure them by re-engaging with them in a normal way, showing them his wounds, eating with them, demonstrating that he is truly with them and not just a figment of fearful imagination. He also teaches them to look back again at the scriptures which they have often heard read and pondered upon, and understand them in a different light.

"Everything written about me in the law of Moses in the prophets and the Psalms has to be fulfilled" (Luke 24:44)

The way the story of Jesus is told in the Gospels relies on references to Jewish scripture, both directly and indirectly through images and metaphors used about Jesus. Succeeding generations of people who hear the story of Jesus learn to make sense of it by getting to know the Jewish scripture and understand how it points beyond its own frame of reference to One who comes whose existence will be relevant to the whole of humankind.

In addressing the questions of doubting Thomas, Jesus declares;

"Happy are those who have not seen, and yet believe." (John 20:29)

The fact that others come to believe who weren't there relies upon their ability to enter into the story and experience it and identify with it through the power of the imagination. In different ways reading and thinking about the stories in the Gospel opens heart and mind to work at a deeper level, leading to prayer that connects with our own real life experience, and inspires wonder and thanksgiving for the graciousness of God made known to us.

The meditative reading of scripture is not an end to itself however, at points us in the direction where our hearts can truly be lifted up to God. It has its roots in Judaism where deep reflection on stories of heroes of faith is also a prominent feature of spiritual tradition.

"Lord what love have I for thy law; all day long is my study in it." (Psalm 119:97

Christians also draw inspiration from the exemplary lives of the saints, whose stories are told in ways that point back to the Lord Jesus, above and beyond all else.

"If you are risen with Christ then, seek those things which are above, where Christ is." (Colossions 3:1)

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