In our church, there is a cross at the front of the sanctuary. The cross is bare for most of the year, but during Lent, it is draped in a purple cloth. Now, it is draped in white, in honour of the risen Christ. The changing colours of the drape remind us of the great arc of the story of Jesus.
When we go through the church year, hearing the Bible stories that we know so well, it is easy to take for granted the profound events that took place in Jesus' time. Lent, Good Friday, and Easter are prime examples. We know how the story ends, so to speak, but for the people around Jesus, particularly Mary and the disciples, this must have been a profoundly confusing time, as their emotions shifted dramatically between grief, joy, and fear.
John 20:19-20 – On the evening of that first day of the week, when the disciples were together, with the doors locked for fear of the Jewish leaders, Jesus came and stood among them and said, "Peace be with you!" After he said this, he showed them his hands and side. The disciples were overjoyed when they saw the Lord. (NIV 2011)
I was looking at the fine, white cloth draped over our cross the other day, and I thought about that time between Jesus' resurrection and His ascension. I also took the opportunity to re-read the gospel accounts of that time, and of all that happened during those days.
John 21:25 – But there are also many other things that Jesus did; if every one of them were written down, I suppose that the world itself could not contain the books that would be written. (NRSV)
In looking at that white cloth, I thought just how precious that time must have seemed to them! They thought that they had lost Him forever, and they were living in fear. But now, here He was, walking amongst them again, interacting with them, teaching them, and loving them.
That's when it struck me — Jesus. Emmanuel. "God with us."
Jesus was physically present for the disciples during those special days, and through the gift of the Holy Spirit, that same Jesus, our precious Lord and Saviour, is still with us today!
That white drape — such a simple thing! — reminded me that the risen Christ is with us — now, and always.
Prayer: Dear God, thank You for the gift of the resurrection and the risen Christ. Thank You for the gift of Your Holy Spirit, Who uplifts and sustains us every day of our lives. In Jesus' name, we pray. Amen.
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Listen while you read: "I Need Thee Every Hour" (Lyrics)