Therefore prepare your minds for action; discipline yourselves; set all your hope on the grace that Jesus Christ will bring you when he is revealed. Like obedient children, do not be conformed to the desires that you formerly had in ignorance. Instead, as he who called you is holy, be holy yourselves in all your conduct; for it is written, ‘You shall be holy, for I am holy.’
If you invoke as Father the one who judges all people impartially according to their deeds, live in reverent fear during the time of your exile. You know that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your ancestors, not with perishable things like silver or gold, but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without defect or blemish. He was destined before the foundation of the world, but was revealed at the end of the ages for your sake. Through him you have come to trust in God, who raised him from the dead and gave him glory, so that your faith and hope are set on God.
Now that you have purified your souls by your obedience to the truth so that you have genuine mutual love, love one another deeply from the heart. You have been born anew, not of perishable but of imperishable seed, through the living and enduring word of God. For
‘All flesh is like grass and all its glory like the flower of grass. The grass withers, and the flower falls, but the word of the Lord endures for ever.’
That word is the good news that was announced to you.
At the bottom of the manse garden, we have a patch of dirt which I try and seed each year and I dream of lush green grass. It is May I am still wearing my winter coat. Sunshine and showers mean that this year’s crop of seed is starting to take hold. Will I have the patience to let the grass grow before trying to put the mower over it or will it get scuffed away by whoever’s on the swing? (‘The grass withers, and the flower falls’).
I could describe the patch of dirt at the bottom of the garden as being a bit like the church buildings that have been closed during Lockdown but are now starting to resume some sort of normality. The Church has been alive during Lockdown in how it has conducted its life on-line or off- line, with the world in turmoil. Many initiatives have resulted in new and creative ways of ‘being Church’. (It has also highlighted the divide between the ‘have’s and the ‘have nots’). Some have been prepared to embrace change but some have stayed exactly as they were – ‘a patch of dirt’ with nothing happening.
Our text from Peter is telling us to roll up our sleeves, to go again and begin rebuilding: ‘Gave him glory, so that your faith and hope are in God’.
Whatever did or didn’t happen in our local church communities during the pandemic, we are assured: ‘The Word of the Lord stands forever’. We should be about transformation and as Christ cared for individuals in his encounters with the bereaved, sick, hungry and demon-possessed, so must we, because when we care for others, we imitate Christ’s love for others.
Let’s rise to the challenge of the present, with the certain hope that in Christ the best is yet to be: ‘And this word is the good news that was preached to you’.
Are we thinking in terms of the best being yet to come?
God of the tiny, perishable seeds, God of the muddy patch, God of the lush green grass, Your Word remains forever. Let’s praise you today With rolled up sleeves And hearts and wills ready to serve. We know the best is yet to come! Amen
The Rev’d Andrew Royal is Minister, Maidstone & Staplehurst URC’s