I recently read the 20th and 21st chapters of the Gospel of John, the chapters that hold the resurrection accounts. The gospel writer concludes the 20th chapter as though he is finished with the story. Everything is neatly wrapped up with a statement of belief. But then he continues, giving us another resurrection account, with another concluding sentence. Did the writer forget what he had already said? Or was he trying to tell us that this is a never-ending story?
Just when we think we have this Jesus under control, just when we think we understand everything we need to know about our faith - something new happens, and we have another insight, another lesson to learn. God says to us, "I am about to do a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?" (Isaiah 43:19).
Or we can think of our lives as beginnings and endings, and new beginnings. This is the story of our Christian faith. Jesus called the twelve to follow, and they did - all the way to Jerusalem and his death. They thought it had all ended on that cross. But it was only a new beginning, a beginning that would find them taking on new roles, challenged to new tasks.
Yes, I am thinking about new beginnings because this is the Easter season. We are certainly reminded of the possibilities of new life on Easter Sunday. But the story continues, and we celebrate the season for fifty days. As the sign at Federated Church recently said, "Easter is not a one-shot deal." In fact it has seemed to me that there was little evidence for resurrection on that first Sunday. It came over time, as the disciples experienced the Risen Christ present in their lives. It came in consideration and in contemplation, and it came through nurture. For the early Christians, it came in the witness of those who had seen, and believed. We don't have that possibility, we must believe without seeing Christ risen, but we can see the faith of those around us.
I am thinking about endings, and new beginnings because this is the Easter season. I am also thinking about endings, and new beginnings, because I will soon be concluding my time of ministry at Federated Church, and in the Morris community. I have been serving here for ten years, and it is time for the congregation to experience new ideas, new perspectives, always aware that this is a never-ending story. I trust that God has plans for the congregation of Federated Church as they continue to serve Jesus Christ.
Likewise, it is time for me to seek some new beginnings as I experience retirement. I do not know what opportunities for ministry may arise, but I trust that God has plans for me and ways I can continue to serve Jesus Christ and his body on earth, the church.