Minister’s Letter February 2016

Dear friends,

In our present age, most of us have the opportunity to become a celebrity through social media.  Our messages are forever posted on Facebook and our images preserved on Instagram for all the world to see.  There is a real blur now between the celebrity world and every day life.

The early days of January saw the loss of two men of great talent and genius- (true celebrities) with the deaths of David Bowie and Alan Rickman in the same week.  Rickman was versatile in his acting ability from Jamie in the bitter-sweet romance ‘Truly Madly Deeply’ to the, cold, mysterious and misunderstood Professor Severus Snape from the Harry Potter films.  Bowie was a creative genius;  an actor, singer, songwriter and the master of reinvention.  There is no doubt that his music was appreciated by a lot of people and there is more than a touch of irony that Bowie’s final album ‘Blackstar’ was released just days before his untimely death.  The opening track on the album is titled ‘Lazarus’ which eerily begins with the words ‘Look up here I’m in heaven…’

If you recall the story from the 11th chapter of John’s gospel, Lazarus was the brother of Mary and Martha from Bethany.  He was the man who died but didn’t stay dead.  After four days in the tomb, Jesus raises his friend from the dead; a precursor to the resurrection. Moments before that, in an anguished conversation with Martha, Jesus speaks the words , ‘I am the resurrection and the life.  The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in me will never die.’

Many people today still speak of Heaven.  For example other pop stars including, Belinda Carlisle and Elton John, speak about Heaven in their songs, while over the years hundreds of poems have been written on the subject.  Why are we so interested in the afterlife?  There are several reasons:To begin with we must remember that human beings are imprinted with the divine, i.e. we are made in God’s image.  In essence we were designed by God to reach out to him through worship and this is driven, in part, by our yearning something which lies beyond ourselves.  We can experience those things that transcend ourselves not only through worship but we can glimpse them in the sheer beauty of creation.  When we see a beautiful sunset, witness the Aurora Borealis, look up at the stars or catch sight of something the soul is stirred.

Next, many of us become dissatisfied with the world of materialism, wealth and the accumulation of possessions.  If we have enough money, we can buy almost anything.  The word ‘almost’ is important – because, despite the number of homes we own or the number of cars in the driveway, satisfaction in life can continue to elude us.  Money cannot buy a happy marriage, or make us wise, or give true meaning to life.  In fact it is quite possible that the more wealth that we have, then the more selfish we become.

Lastly, Christianity provides an answer to the question ‘What happens to us when we die?’  Jesus paves the way for us.  Jesus the Christ our master, friend and brother shares his divine inheritance of resurrection life with us.  He paves the way and we will follow, with renewed resurrection bodies like his, fit for eternal life in the heavenly realm.  It is there that Jesus will reign in full and forever.

May Christ be the spring of your eternal hope.

Andrew Gardner