Monthly letter from our minister
Each month our minister Simon, or his assistant Peter, writes the introductory letter to our Church News magazine. The latest letter is reproduced here.
Previous letters can be viewed by following the links below.
I love a good storyteller, one who can capture
our imagination, hold our attention and with their telling help us to visualise
the scene. There is no doubt that one of the best storytellers in the Bible is
the writer of Luke’s Gospel, who of course in Jesus had a wonderful supply of
stories. Luke’s writing is beautifully descriptive, engaging and flows from the
page into our imagination. One of his finest and most arresting stories is that
of the disciples meeting Jesus on the road to Emmaus told in Luke 24.
An intriguing feature of the story is that one disciple is named as
Cleopas and one is left unnamed. Who was the other one? The natural curiosity
of Bible commentators has led to much speculation as to who the companion to
Cleopas was on that significant walk. However much we may ponder this, we
simply do not know the answer as Luke chooses not to tell us. Yet why has Luke
missed out this one fact in what is a very well told story full of detail?
If Luke knew that one was Cleopas then surely he must have also known
who the other one was too. I think given his passion for historical detail and
research he knew who the other disciple was, yet chose not to name him. Why?
The naming of only one of the two disciples is I think an invitation to
see ourselves within this story - to place ourself as this unnamed disciple on
the road to Emmaus who meets this enigmatic stranger. As we do not know the
identity of this second disciple, we can imagine that it is us encountering the
Risen Jesus in his explanation of Scripture and breaking of bread. Try reading
through the story again, but place yourself as that unknown disciple and
imagine the joy of meeting Jesus again. Picture the scene from their
This unknown disciple brings to the as yet unrecognised Jesus their
sense of loss and the confusion they feel; they tell him about all their hopes
and how these had died with Jesus at the cross. Yet this disciple’s sorrow is
turned to joy as they realise it is the Risen Lord and their hopes are reborn.
We are invited to also encounter this Jesus along the road that we walk - to
bring to this Jesus our sadness and grief, our struggles, unanswered questions
and unrealised dreams. We are invited to meet the Risen Jesus and find in him a
new joy and the strength and encouragement to persist in our hope that this
world can be a better place.
For me this invitation to step into the story and meet Jesus is
highlighted by the realisation that he has not yet reappeared in the narrative.
The Emmaus road story in Luke is intriguing in that Jesus not yet appeared in
person as the Risen Lord; the women have heard the angels’ message about his
rising, Peter has witnessed the empty tomb but no one in the narrative in Luke
24 has yet actually met him. The first encounter is here to an unnamed disciple
walking in sorrow and confusion, but willing to open their mind to this
stranger and open their home to his presence.
Luke through his careful retelling of the resurrection of Jesus is inviting us to enter into the story and also know a transforming encounter with the Risen Lord. In his narrative he makes clear that Jesus now is met in the pages of Scripture and in the sharing of fellowship. The invitation is for us to also seek an encounter with the Risen Lord - that as we break open the Scriptures our hearts might burn within us as we hear Jesus still speaking to us by the Holy Spirit; that as we break bread together we may encounter the Jesus who shared our death yet is now and always alive.
April 2019 Simon
March 2019 Simon
February 2019 Peter
November 2018 Simon
October 2018 Simon
May 2018 Simon