Firstly, loving greetings to you all. Sorry we aren’t together, but at least you’ve been spared not only my company but also the hordes of pesky tourists clogging your pavements. To those of you who miss the Festival/Fringe, you have my sympathy; to those of you who usually make a killing by renting out your properties at eye-watering rates, my heart positively bleeds.

So, as you can tell, the pandemic has done wonders for the state of mind. When Pete emailed to say you might appreciate some words from me for today, I rang him to clarify.

“Oh no, we don’t need your thoughts, just a few words leading us up to the emblems.” So, leaving aside thoughts on boosting one another’s self-esteem for a later date, some words leading up to the emblems.

Furlough has been a welcome break for many, a strange extended holiday to be paid for by this generation and the one to come. It has, though, come with more than just a financial cost. Those of us furloughed increasingly wonder whether there will be a job to return to at any stage. Further, we look at colleagues who have been brought back in to work and wonder if they are somehow higher up the pecking order now, even if purely by dint of place and circumstance, despite assurances from senior leadership. The whole question of identity, certainly in relation to work, but also stigmatisation by postcode vis a vis the virus, has become an issue.

So consider the Lord Jesus. How could it be that the identity of the Son of the Most High could be inextricably linked with the role of divinely ordained human sacrifice? Could the mighty king, the Son of Psalm 2 really be the suffering servant of Isaiah 52 and 53? The Lord Jesus’ own mind played tricks on him around this theme – “If you’re the Son of God...”

No furlough for the Son of God. Times of rest and recuperation only serving to allow for prayer and communing with the Father, seeking after strength to continue, and guidance as to the way to go. Exhausted to the point of sleeping through the storm that threatened to sink the boat full of terrified but seasoned sailors, only to rise and quell the storm. “Peace, be still.”

Until at last, on the cross, the cruel jibes rang in his ears to echo his own thoughts: “If you’re the Son of God...”

Jesus’ unspoken response to the disciples in the boat was effectively,“Yes, of course I care that you’re perishing, I will give my life to save you, but storms will still come. Don’t let go of your trust in me and the Father.”

The anchor rope may feel like it’s slipping through our hands at times, but blessed is the one who holds fast to the end.
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