Tuesday, 28 July 2015

Holiday Shadow

Port de Pollenca in Mallorca is a very pleasant place to have a holiday.   It is geared for families, provides a variety of outdoor activities, and there are plenty of places to shop and eat and drink. 

There is also something of a celebrity appeal.  You can stay in a hotel once frequented by Agatha Christie; you can eat in Bradley Wiggins’ favourite restaurant in the presence of two of his bikes and a selection of his jerseys; and at certain times it is possible to look out to sea and catch sight of the holiday flotilla of King Juan Carlos. 

Usually, the only time you are ever aware of the Guardia Civil, the local police, is when there is a traffic problem of some kind.   So when you are having a coffee in a sea-front cafĂ© and four members of the GC stroll by carrying automatic rifles it comes as something of a shock.   Then we remembered that it was a week to the day since 38 tourists were murdered on a beach in Tunisia.  Perhaps this was an attempt to provide some assurance to the tourists in Port De Pollenca but to some extent it was a shadow falling over the brightness and colour of that late morning.  The memory of those scenes was vivid.  Violence and death breaking into the lives of people like us seeking relaxation and renewal in the sun. 

The apostle Paul had experiences like this.  In one of his letters he speaks of the disasters and cruelty he has had to cope with in his work as a Christian missionary.  Not only has there been shipwrecks, prison and hunger.   He has also been flogged, stoned, and preyed upon by bandits and other men of violence, people who seem to emerge from the darkness of human experience bringing pain and suffering.

Despite all of this Paul kept going.  He believed that while the darkness seemed to be in the ascendant a light had arisen which offered hope to humankind.  The Son of God had come to the world and not only preached the love of God but showed this love in the midst of pain and tragedy and loss.   And with his death and resurrection Jesus had given notice that the days of the darkness were numbered.  The Kingdom of God was advancing and a time had been appointed when everything that has ever made us cry would be overwhelmed by the love and the justice of God. 

The apostle John had a vision of this described in the Book of Revelation.   He saw a New Creation where death, mourning, and pain had no place, the climax of God’s great plan of renewal.  But like Paul, John realised the great need for followers of Jesus to live now as people of the Kingdom.  As we work for justice and peace in our own time we point forward to the time of their triumph under Christ.