The New Room is sharing a Friday reflection each week. We hope that these short reflections will act as a point of spiritual focus, enabling a moment of quiet thought and prayer.
The Revd Tom Osborne is Superintendent of the Tendring Circuit at the far eastern end of Essex. Having lived a fairly nomadic life both in the UK and overseas, he calls the Mendips and Levels of Somerset home – where his dad was, for 19 years, Rector of four rural parishes including Pilton, home of the Glastonbury Festival. He has a particular interest in how faith interacts with and can be seen in both contemporary popular music and tabletop gaming.
Reading: John 20.15-17
“Do not hold onto me.” I cannot imagine how hard those words must have been for Mary to hear. Here is Jesus, returned from the dead, and I cannot help but think that what she would want to do is grab hold of him, hug him close, and never let him go, in order not to risk losing him again. If I were in her situation I’m sure that’s what I’d do.
The closest my own experience might come to this was the time I was in the midst of a deep depressive crisis, signed off by the doctors, and curled up on the bed listening to an album I’d first heard a few weeks earlier on the radio. As one particular track played I found myself drawn from the bed, dancing with pure joy like David before the Lord. In that moment I was somehow healed and I did not want the dance to end. Yet, of course, the track came to its completion and I returned to my bed, once again in the dark.
Except that now I knew that the dark was not all there was. I could not keep that piece of music playing forever, but I could remember what it said to me about life, and light, and joy. Mary could not keep hold of Jesus – his resurrection was for the salvation of the world, not just her. Yet she could always remember the way she had felt when he spoke her name.
Faith in the light of the resurrection, it seems to me, is not about a constant sense of joy and elation. It’s not about holding onto Jesus so tight that he can’t escape. Rather, it’s about carrying with us those moments when somehow or other we heard our name spoken in love, reminding us that even in the dark the light walks with us. And it’s about sharing the stories of those moments with others, so that in their own moments of grief and darkness they too might hear their name spoken and recognise the One who is speaking it.
Thank you, God, that you never desert us to sit in the dark alone but are present with us in all things. Enable us, by the moving of your Spirit, to be aware of your company, and give us signs that we might remember your presence even when we are not aware of it. We pray for all those facing the dark today, that in some way they may hear you speak their name, and we look forward to the coming of your great Kingdom of light in which none shall wait in the dark any longer. Amen.