Daily Devotion 16 April 2021

Create a peaceful space to pause, and allow yourself to feel God’s presence alongside you, as near to you as your own breath. In following the reflection below, as a church we will draw closer to God and to one another as we grow in faith and deepen our sense of belonging to God.

John 14: 1-3 ‘Jesus the Way to the Father’

1 ‘Do not let your hearts be troubled. Believe in God, believe also in me. 2 In my Father’s house there are many dwelling-places. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? 3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, so that where I am, there you may be also.

I’ve read, said, or heard these words dozens upon dozens of times: in worship, at funerals, at home. I wouldn’t like to think how many, to be honest! You might think that excessive familiarity with the words would mean I understand them remarkably well…but in all honesty it doesn’t reduce the mystery one bit! Jesus is sharing with his friends something deeply profound, something far beyond the realms of this world. They remain puzzled, confused and searching. Whenever we begin to think, reflect, or pray about eternal things and God’s provision for us beyond all our imaginings, it’s understandably going to be impossible for us to grasp fully too.

I take comfort from the fact that we’re not mean to, of course. God made us mortal, fragile, limited, with hearts and minds to love and know God – but not to know it all. I also take comfort from the fact that Jesus’ words to his friends are designed to sooth troubled hearts and calm fears. Not knowing everything about God’s creativity, the depths of his love, or the life that is to come, is in a context where we embrace the mystery while we ourselves are held in God’s embrace. Now that I can just about cope with!

I don’t know if you can read the words in the image above, but it says on the notice: ‘I HAVE PREPARED A PLACE FOR YOU. (BUT NOT ON THIS CHAIR!!!). We’ve had these on chairs at church for a long time now, helping us to keep distant from one another, sit a few metres away from one another, and to ensure fabric coverings are not contaminated with whatever bugs we have and so reduce cleaning. It’s a joy thinking that we may be getting closer and closer to be together again, and closer and closer to one another – only when safe and legal, of course.

The Church Leader who put these notices out on the chairs – doubtless with a smile or chuckle with each one – in a sense helps us understand a deeper reality: that God’s presence is to be found in all places and at all times. There is indeed a future place for us one day within God’s heaven of love and peace. We can also know God with us right here and now: in worship, in church, on Zoom, in our gardens, on the Downs, on walks, at work, with our loved ones. Anytime we pause, breathe, and remember God with us, we’ll know in our hearts that the God of all time, space, and eternity, is also the one who is as near to us as our own heartbeat.

Prayer:

Wonderful God, we thank you for holding all the mysteries of life and love for us.
Grant us understanding in measure, that we may never stop reaching for you,
and always be conscious of your comforting hold.
For your promise to us, in Jesus, that you will always be there for for us, in time everlasting, we give you thanks and praise. Amen.

Reflection, Image and Prayer © 2021 Paul Tabraham.
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