During the coverage of Prince Philip's Funeral, I was struck by an expression Lloyd Robertson used to describe the moment-sea-change.
What an apt expression, I thought—a tribute to a Naval Officer and an acknowledgement that an era has passed. We have all been witnesses over the decades but it is in these kinds of moments that we can put it all in perspective. HRH Prince Philip the Duke of Edinburgh has been with us throughout all of our lives. And now, HM our dear Queen will walk alone.
There have been other where-were-you-when moments in our lives: Peace at the end of a World War, the Cuban Missile Crisis, the Assassination of a President, the Walk on the Moon, the Attack of the World Trade Centre.
We have been witnesses to these moments. When we recognize moments of sea-change, it gives us a new perspective, a wider way of seeing. For the people of the UK, and Commonwealth, this is particularly a moment of sea-change.
We may also be living through one such moment in these pandemic days but these moments have not run their course. We're yet not able to be fully aware of what we are witnessing.
I wonder if that's where the disciples were immediately after the First Easter. They were witnesses to much but were they conscious about it? Did they understand? Could they see? Had their understanding been opened?
"Why are you frightened," Jesus asks, "and why do doubts arise in your hearts? Look at my hands and my feet; see that it is I myself. Touch me and see; for a ghost does not have flesh and bones as you see that I have." And he sat and ate with them.
Then he said, "These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you—that everything written about me in the law of Moses, the prophets, and the psalms must be fulfilled."
I wonder what it would be like to have been there that night back in Jerusalem. Was it a sea-change moment? Was it a sea-change moment amidst their wondering?
They had seen it all. They had lived it all with Jesus. They had travelled with Jesus. They had heard his teachings. They had seen his miracles. They had seen the empty tomb and heard the reports from the women that he was alive. Two of them had already seen him earlier that day. No doubt the room would have been abuzz with talk and wondering.
Then, there stood Jesus in their midst.
And Luke explains to us that Jesus opened their minds to the scripture.
Take a moment and picture the room. Put yourself in that room. What would you want to know?
I can imagine the scene with them all sitting around Jesus as he went through the scriptures and explained how it all fit. I can imagine the questions and Jesus simple and clear replies that would open eyes wider and enable them to hear meaning.
Do you see it as a sea-change moment for them? I do.
I think everything began to fall into place for them at that moment. They realized they were indeed witnesses. They had seen it all and they had lived through it all. Now they had a clearer picture. They listened and they heard. Now they had context and perspective.
They had a foundation now to do the work of understanding and of seeking the meaning of all they had witnessed over those years.
So for you, when you place yourself in that room, how could it be a sea-change moment along your steps of faith? What would it be that you want to learn, that you need to discover?
I think that night Jesus led the Apostles through the greatest sea-change ever. Through their accounts in the Gospel and in their Letters to the Churches, we are witnesses of these things.
And, I think we have an invitation into a similar room where we can be quiet and listen.
To enter that room, all that it takes is to find some moments to set aside. Take a piece of scripture for which you want your understanding opened. It could be a verse or two. Put yourself in the room. It is quiet and peaceful. Read the scripture you chose and then reflect, ponder, and listen.
Listen for what Jesus is saying. Listen as a witness to these things that Jesus explains.
"Thus it is written, that the Messiah is to suffer and to rise from the dead on the third day, and that repentance and forgiveness of sins is to be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things," Jesus tells us.
To be listening in the room for Jesus is to be praying.
Be with us, Lord Jesus, always but be with us especially when we set time aside alone in a quiet room to be with you. Let us find a scripture that we wish you would make clear for us. And let us listen in prayerfulness as you open our minds to understand. Guide us to know the sea-change of repentance and forgiveness and empower us to proclaim it in our lives as witnesses to these things. Amen.
The Reverend W Glenn Empey