8 April 2020
A New Life
Back in January, I was scheduled to write this blog in the lead up to Easter; who could have imagined that we’d be in the situation we are in today with the Covid-19 pandemic? Pretty much locked down in our homes, except for limited time for exercise and for essential food shopping. We’ve discovered the joys of working at home (and no traffic in long commutes), online meetings and new words have entered our vocabulary. “To Zoom” or “meet you in a Zoom” have new and different meanings.
It is easy to think of the very immediate and focus close to home, just considering our own close families, their basic needs and their overall security; but of course what is an inconvenience to us is much more a matter of life and death to say, a daily wage labourer in India or Nepal. For them, no work means no money to buy food and no food probably means going hungry; as families who “live on the margins”, who don’t have the resources to stockpile anything (for a rainy day) or indeed have social services to fall back on.
Easter is one time in the year, when we should be looking beyond ourselves and our own situations and remembering what Jesus did for each one of us, by dying on the cross to take the penalty for our sins, but then being raised to "new life" on the third day.
Jesus said to her, "I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in me will never die.
Traditionally, we remember this "new life" using symbols of new birth, chicken’s eggs or chocolate eggs – the latter being preferred by children (and some adults!). Or by bulbs or spring flowers bursting into bloom. A new start, a new beginning… as the spring sunshine begins to bring the garden to life.
So, what does this “New Life” though Jesus' death and resurrection look like?
Throughout the gospels and in the New Testament we get many insights. One of the especially significant passages for me is when Jesus goes into the temple and reads from scripture, a part of Isaiah 61, and the event is recorded in Luke 4:17-20:
[…] Unrolling it (the scroll), he found the place where it is written:
"The Spirit of the Lord is on me,
because he has anointed me
to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners
and recovery of sight for the blind,
to set the oppressed free,
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour."
Then he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant […] He began by saying to them, “Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.”
As ever in scripture, there is much worthy of study here, but I’m going to just focus on the four highlighted sections which are very much the outline of what an organisation like WorldShare seeks to do, as a response to this "new life" through Jesus' death and resurrection.
- … to proclaim the good news … To share the Gospel, the good news of what Jesus has done for each of us
- … to proclaim freedom for the prisoners … To set free the vulnerable, the downtrodden and needy, whether in that situation though poverty or illness
- … to give sight to the blind … To make sick people well
- … to set the oppressed free … To set those bound by modern slavery free
This "new life“ is not about looking inwards, focusing on ourselves and our own needs, but much more broadly focusing on those brothers and sisters, in the widest sense, who need our help. This is especially true at this challenging time of the Covid-19 pandemic across the globe. Her Majesty the Queen in her broadcast on Sunday highlighted that ”together we are tackling the disease, if we remain united and resolute, then we will overcome it".
Will you stand with us at this time, as we seek to live out this “new life” on a daily basis; to work with and stand alongside our ministry partners around the globe? We may feel we are confined or chained by Covid-19, but God’s word, the Gospel, is not chained (2 Timothy 2:9) and continues to bring "new life".
By Alan Butler, the CEO of WorldShare.