Something I read recently caught me by surprise. It was something mentioned in passing, ‘tucked away’ in a much bigger message about a completely different subject. But, in that moment of reading, it was like catching sight of a hidden gem. Here it is:

“You were well aware that the reason I ended up preaching to you was that I was physically broken, and so, prevented from continuing my journey, I was forced to stop with you. That is how I came to preach to you.”

Paul’s writing to the folks in Galatia, in modern-day Turkey, and reminding them how their community first began. (Galatians 4:13; The Message)

It struck me that the amazing stuff which was to happen afterwards, in a way all started with the messy reality of Paul’s physical limitations.

This is a particularly encouraging thought for me today as I reflect on how life tends to confront us with our own limitations. But here’s the thing: these limitations don’t disqualify us from God’s love. In fact, I have a hunch they make us even more eligible –

for divine love, 

for how God would bless others through us, 

for new resources of hope, wisdom, especially of courage.

We don’t have to wait for the moment (the Inevitable Never) when we’re completely ‘fit for service’, or as if God’s love was something we first needed to deserve.

After all, love’s moment is now.

Unpromising, difficult circumstances are sometimes the fertile ground for rich blessings. Seeds of good(even great)-things-to-come can be planted in our limitations, germinated in our very brokenness.

We’re not disqualified by our frailty.

What challenges are you facing? 

Can acknowledging the reality of our limitations, weakness, brokenness, actually open up the way to receiving God’s grace, strength, courage and LOVE?

Easter 2021: Hope Reflections

Easter 2021 feels like an Easter as no other, doesn’t it? Yes, this time last year we were also in a pandemic, but today I think we are in a very different place than Easter 2020. I don’t mean physically, though that, for some of us, has been precisely the main point of anguish: physically stuck in the same place. I mean we’re in ‘a different place’ in the sense of everything we’ve been through – mentally, emotionally and spiritually – over the last year.

So, here are a few hope reflections for Easter 2021:

1. Hope vs. fear

The first is a point from Matt Krick’s ‘Theology of Ecology’ on how Jesus uses the natural world to tell us not to worry. In the Gospel of Matthew Jesus says:

“Look at the birds, free and unfettered, not tied down to a job description, careless in the care of God. And you count far more to him than birds.”

“If God gives such attention to the appearance of wildflowers—most of which are never even seen—don’t you think he’ll attend to you, take pride in you, do his best for you?”

(Matthew 6:26 & 30 The Message)

Consider the birds, consider the flowers. Can they teach us something? Can we let God use them to lead us out of any worried or anxious state we may be in – into hope?

2. Hope: I am seen, I am loved

If you have a moment, watch Station 13 from the online series ‘The Stations of the Cross and Table’. It’s about how Mary is the one who is first to witness Jesus’ resurrection. Here it is:

Easter is about the Cross. And what it means. Consider the love God has for us. Let it sink in deeper than perhaps we’ve ever let it sink in before…

3. Hope: our future

Easter is also about Resurrection Sunday, and the mind-blowing ultimate hope we have because of Jesus: death does NOT have the last word. Trying to describe how resurrection will work in each of our lives, Paul writes (also using the natural world):

“We do have a parallel experience in gardening. You plant a ‘dead’ seed; soon there is a flourishing plant. There is no visual likeness between seed and plant. You could never guess what a tomato would look like by looking at a tomato seed. What we plant in the soil and what grows out of it don’t look anything alike…”

“You will notice that the variety of bodies is stunning. Just as there are different kinds of seeds, there are different kinds of bodies—humans, animals, birds, fish—each unprecedented in its form. You get a hint at the diversity of resurrection glory by looking at the diversity of bodies not only on earth but in the skies—sun, moon, stars—all these varieties of beauty and brightness. And we’re only looking at pre-resurrection ‘seeds’—who can imagine what the resurrection ‘plants’ will be like!”

(1 Corinthians 15:35-41 The Message)

Consider the ‘seed versus plant’ idea and what this may be hinting at about the differences between our pre- and post-resurrection selves?

Consider the diversity of beauty we see on this planet, in the skies, in the universe and the clues this may be giving us about the future “diversity of resurrection glory”.