This morning, as my husband drew back the curtains, there was a peacock on the drive! Not what one expects to see! It was a surprise. We think it had escaped from an estate not to far away. It got me thinking about things we expect and things that we don’t. I quite often feel that God likes to surprise me. Over the years I have ended up doing quite a number of tasks and roles which I never set out to do, or expected to be involved in. These have included a range of roles within churches I have attended, professional roles in teaching, and not least my current role with Methodist Women. It is so often only when we look back that we see how inter-related experiences have been.
We have just experienced Easter and been reminded of the events which took Jesus to the cross. Surely for those who knew and followed Jesus this must have been a surprising outcome. Jesus ministry was one of care and concern for others. Yes, he was not conventional. Yes, he was popular, and people listened to, and followed him. Yes, that tended to annoy those in authority, but surely Jesus was harmless? Surely he didn’t deserve to die in such a graphically awful way? Jesus always knew that his human life’s end would be one of human agony. It was not a surprise to him. He knew that it was necessary to show humankind the love of God for all of creation. Now, for believers, Jesus’ human death is no longer a surprise. We can look back at what we know of the history, and have some understanding of the reasons for the events. Plus we can be thankful, that despite all the awful suffering, there was an amazing outcome – the resurrection. Each Easter as we look back, we remind ourselves of the positive aspects of the first Easter, which are just as relevant to us today.
Part of the joy of Easter is normally in being able to gather with friends and family to celebrate. This year, again, we still have restrictions, but life is beginning to open up, and there is much to look forward to. My younger daughter and family joined us on Saturday for a rather chilly barbeque lunch in the garden. It was so lovely to see the children hunting for eggs around the garden, making a den from a large cardboard box that I had saved for them, and exploring our local nature reserve as we walked together after lunch. We are to meet the other half of our family this week too, and will drive to a roughly half way point to share a picnic and walk together. It has been some months since we have been able to meet, and like so many other people this has been the top of the wish list. I pray that others will be able to join with loved ones in similar ways soon and to look forward to more opportunities to gather and share. We are creatures who are largely social beings. We tend to thrive when we can share ideas and resources, as well as goods and time. Perhaps re-appreciating our need to be together will lead to new ideas for caring for one another and the living world.