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Sabbatical, Day 71, Easter Sunday: Jesus Returns To Life

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Christ is risen! He is risen indeed! In this final Damaris Trust video for Holy Week, Krish Kandiah and Peter May talk about how Jesus’ resurrection from the dead gives us hope when considering what happens when we die.

…………

A great service for Easter Day at St Andrew’s this morning. ‘In a packed programme tonight’, as the Two Ronnies used to say, we had the Easter liturgy, renewal of baptismal vows, Holy Communion (of course) and people invited from the community to remember deceased loved ones.

In the middle of all that, there were two highlights for me. Firstly, the worship band shrank at one point to the younger members only. So Emily on vocals , Dan on guitar, Bradley on keys  and the drummer whose name I don’t know – they’re all round about thirteen years old – led us in Tim Hughes‘ ‘Happy Day‘. Here’s a version by the original artist:

Emily is a great singer, Dan a quiet and efficient bandleader, Bradley filled in subtly and the drummer guy is top drawer.

The other highlight was Lee’s sermon. Taking Mark 16:1-8, he made a virtue of the strange and sudden ending to Mark’s Gospel. He said we have to write our own ending to the Easter story in our lives. I thought that was great. 

For all that, it’s been quite a mixed day emotionally. On the one hand, I have entered Easter with a renewed confidence in the truth and importance of the Resurrection. Not that I ever lost my belief in the bodily Resurrection of Christ for one moment, but sometimes when life or circumstances aren’t the most encouraging, it can feel far away. Reading Tim Keller (sorry to mention him again!) and Tom Wright (see this excellent article from The Times yesterday) has done much to fortify my faith.

But other things have been weighing me down. My friend Will says today, in talking about his service this morning, 

Before the prayers of intercession, I reminded our congregation that for many the joys of Easter are still crowded out by their own personal Good Fridays. I know I have friends who will this week spend more time agonising in the Garden of Gethsemane (Jen and Mike, we are praying for you and Luke). For some, Easter is more like the women in Mark who hid when afraid.

And as he mentions his friends Jen, Mike and Luke, so I have been thinking about the three couples I mentioned last Sunday who have separated. Some events today have reminded me of them. Debbie and I feel such pain for them. And if that is how we feel, how do they?

More trivially, our eighteen-year-old cat is suddenly looking old, frail and weak. We are beginning to think the end might be near. The children realise, and on top of the fact that they have been asking questions about death as we’ve come through Holy Week, Good Friday and today. Mark in particular keeps asking whether he will die on a cross like Jesus.

I’m also starting to get more regular questions about how much longer the sabbatical has to go. The answer is that – with having tacked a week’s leave onto the end – I shall be back on duty four weeks today. The official Methodist literature on sabbaticals talks about planning your ‘re-entry’, which rather makes ministers feel like Apollo astronauts. The idea is that there should be a managed, phased re-introduction to active ministry.

Which makes me think of two words: ‘fat’ and ‘chance’. At least I hope it won’t be like my last sabbatical, when the superintendent asked me to come back early due to a crisis with the circuit treasurer. However, a sabbatical grants you new vision in all sorts of ways. It is then a huge challenge to share that vision with churches that are used to things being a long way different from such visions. I’ve always been a restless traveller on the outer fringes of Methodism: right now I feel somewhere out beyond Pluto.

Of course, it may just be a version of what anyone feels when a good holiday is coming to an end and they have to return to work. (Not that I’m suggesting the sabbatical is a holiday!) Time will tell.

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About Dave Faulkner

I'm a British Methodist minister, married with two children. I blog from a moderate evangelical-missional-charismatic perspective, with an interest in the 'missional' approach. My interests include Web 2.0, digital photography, contemporary music and watching football (Tottenham Hotspur) and cricket.

Posted on April 12, 2009, in Books, ministry, Personal, Religion and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 7 Comments.

  1. Re-entry from sabbatical is so important. I’ve seen so many folk come back to full diaries and manic chaos, and end up exhausted after a few weeks. We recommend in this District that you block a few days holiday a few weeks after coming back. I know, it sounds a bit daft, but we’ve found it works. I kept my fortnight’s summer hols until a few weeks after my sabbatical last year – am I glad I did!

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    • Unfortunately that isn’t in the official advice in this District, because I think I’d need something like that to lean on if I did it. I suppose I also feel under emotional pressure at this time, because the question of my invitation will be discussed this summer.

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      • OK – as District Sabbaticals Secretary for my District, I can send you a copy of the document entitled “Coming Back” which is part of our pack of documents for ministers and churches. We produced it last year, as a result of conversations over the previous couple of years. You might find it useful – although I take your point about reinvitation. It’s a sticky time, in many ways. One of the reasons I have reservations about our system.

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        • Thanks, Tony, that would be great. One of my colleagues in this circuit is on our District Sabbaticals Committee- can I let her have sight of it,lease?

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  2. Hi Dave, thanks for the positive comments about the youth band on Sunday, they really were great. the drummer’s name is Patrick and I have read him your comments, which he appreciated!
    see you soon
    Jill (Patrick’s mum!)

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    • Thanks, Jill, Linda Facebooked me and told me it was Patrick but I hadn’t had a chance to update the post. I’d be delighted to have a bunch of young people like them in one of my churches, I really would.

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