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New Beginnings

The End.

Two small words that can evoke an big emotional reaction in us. I wonder how you respond? What pictures or experiences does it bring to mind, or which senses are activated?

However they makes us feel, life is full of beginnings and endings. They are one of life’s certainties. There are occasions when we have time to see an end coming, to plan for the eventuality and build a scaffold of support and care around us. There are other occasions when we don't get that luxury. We might be left to contend with an end abruptly, without time to access resources that might help us.

I wonder then, how we might prepare for these abrupt endings? Maybe you could ask yourself now: what is it I need when an ending comes my way? Are there people or activities who are able to be part of the scaffolding that might keep me upright? Why not spend a few moments reflecting on this and making a little plan.

Triumphant celebration

This week, as Christians, we reflect on the moments leading up to Easter. A celebration of life in all its fullness; death, the ultimate end, defeated. A celebration recognising humankind being reconciled once again to our Creator, our Maker.

But this wasn’t the first time God had acted upon a plan to reconcile humankind. The bible is full of stories of God’s creation being reconciled and then going away. We read in Matthew 23:37, “...I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing.” God longs for us to be reconciled.

I wonder which parts of this Holy Week, leading up to Sunday's triumphant celebration of life, resonate with you most? Consider these moments:

- The woman who anoints Jesus with expensive perfume. Rebuked by the disciples, she hears Jesus say that “wherever this gospel is preached throughout the world, what she has done will also be told, in memory of her.” (Matt 26:13)

- Passover, when Jesus says, “I have eagerly desired to eat this Passover meal with you.”

- Jesus, finding himself alone, isolated in the garden of Gethsemane, with the disciples unable to stay awake. He declares, “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet, not as I will, but as you will.” (Matt 26:39)

- Finally, at the cross: “Jesus cried out with a loud voice, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.” When he had said this, he breathed his last.” (Luke 23:46)

In John’s account of the resurrection morning, we read of Mary Magdalene, standing outside the empty tomb, crying and questioning where they might have taken her Lord. At this moment, she sees the angels in white who ask her: “Why are you crying, who is it you’re looking for?”

“Sir, if you have carried him away, please tell me where you have put him.”

Jesus says, “Mary”.

In that moment, she recognises him. It’s in the intimate act of hearing her name that the connection is found. History is changed; Jesus is risen and new, everlasting life can begin!

All things made new

The gospel means that every small story is part of a sweeping story, every ordinary life part of an extraordinary movement. God is busy making all things new, and the life, death and resurrection of Jesus has opened that work to everyone who wants in on it. The church is not a group of people who believe all the same things; the church is a group of people caught up in the same story, with Jesus at the centre.

— Rachel Held Evans (Inspired 2018:157) —

We will all have our stories of new beginnings. The fear, excitement and anticipation all wrapped up together. As we build our personal scaffolds around us to help us navigate unexpected endings, why not allow this Holy Week be a time of reflection. In every ending and beginning, expected or not, we can know that God is making true his plan for renewal and reconciliation.

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