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  • ruthcarpenter

I'm still working it out...

Hello! I trust it’s never too late to say, “Hallelujah! He is risen!” Perhaps, like me, you are still nibbling your way through your Easter chocolate.

When I last wrote to you it was a chilly, rather dark January. Nature has a glorious rhythm to it, don’t you think? Just when we think we can’t take another cold grey day, spring breaks through and brings a hopeful season of growth and new life. I hope you have seen some sunshine where you are? It makes all the difference I find, it’s little wonder that we celebrate the resurrection of Christ at this time of year, with nature singing out an anthem of rebirth and blooming in celebration. For the Easter service last week at my church, I was asked to share some thoughts as a short talk. I don’t mind admitting to you that I felt a bit underqualified. However secure we feel in our relationship with God (Psalms & Stretches is a great way to invest time with God as part of your routine!), it can be hard to engage with the really big concepts of Christianity. And Easter is perhaps as big as it gets:

Jesus Christ died for you (in the most horrible way) and then came back to life, and by doing so reconciled your relationship with the God of the universe...

Its mind blowing. And yet it is also probably something some of us have heard many, many times – potentially even every time we’ve gone to church. It is both so fundamental and completely miraculous. While wondering what I might say in my talk I questioned if I’d really connected properly with this massive, life-changing truth this year. Do I grasp it enough in my mind? But have I felt it in my soul? Does it affect how I live and think? But what about what’s going on in the rest of the world? Did I empty the dishwasher already? What could I possibly offer that might be useful? I’m sure you don’t need me to tell you, but our brains can be confusing places sometimes! But that in itself got me thinking… At this point in the story the disciples weren’t really sure what was going on either. So, if we’re struggling with big concepts about our faith, we’re in good company.

And that’s what I particularly wanted to share with you today during these weeks after Easter...

Jesus spent the next 40 days after his resurrection popping in on his disciples and followers. They needed to process the information in different ways and it took time.

Some needed to see him with their own eyes, have in-depth conversations and hear him explain, or witness him eat or touch his body with their own hands. I’m not surprised he stayed for well over a month for it to finally start to filter in and for them to be equipped with the Holy Spirit to move forward without Jesus there physically. The disciples needed that time. When we read it retrospectively maybe we tap our feet at how long it took for the penny to drop. How many of us have this impatience with ourselves too?

I was reminded of this during a recent chat with some of the other P&S instructors (I am so blessed by our network of wonderful instructors!). Often in our classes there is a sense of wanting to learn the choreography quickly so we can know it and “get it right” straight away. It's understandable; it’s quite a cultural norm of modern life to value instant results. Just think of the number of things that are available “on demand” nowadays. Time is often viewed as something that slips through our fingers, rather than a necessary cost that can be invested well towards a goal or in a process. (I imagine it probably has something to do with the finite time we have in our earthly bodies, or our western obsession with being busy). But in Psalms & Stretches the act of embodying the scripture takes time; for the words to sink into our minds, the revelations from God to sink into our hearts and the exercises to become a moving meditation. Forgive the random cooking analogy (my husband, Josh, has recently started private cheffing!) but it’s a bit like marinating something. For some things there is no fast-tracking. You have to let it sit, soak and absorb the flavour for it to be fully transformed.

I believe this applies to so many aspects of our Christian faith. It is said that faith is a gift, but we know that it is also a process. The same with wisdom, understanding and revelation. The two disciples on their way to Emmaus spent the best part of their journey talking with Jesus before he finally revealed himself to them when he broke bread at dinner time. And it was all time well spent. What a cherished day that would have been in their memories. And all the events recorded for us to read all these years later are invaluable. So, I wanted to remind you, wherever you are, whether you are full of the joys of spring or struggling with how we reconcile, well, everything and anything in this world (and the eternal, mind-blowing concepts!) that things take time and we need to have grace with ourselves.

have grace with yourself

Just as Jesus had grace with his dicisples as he explained and then explained again. After all, Easter itself is also about grace; the grace God granted us when Jesus took our sin on himself. If you will, take a deep breath right now. Exhale. Imagine releasing impatience. Releasing the sense that you should be at a different point or have a better grasp on things. And if God intends this to be a season where He sets the pace, allow yourself to accept this as a gift too. Some things we can't rush. But we can trust that we have the best teacher. Praying you feel peace and hope at this time, whether this is a season of fast growth or slow bloom...

If you’re wondering what I ended up sharing with my church on Easter Sunday, it was a short talk on fresh starts (you can read it here, 3min read) I always love to hear if anything resonates with you x


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