After many years in youth ministry, my parents became parenting and relationship experts, sharing their insights across the globe through books and seminars. You can find some of those books in our “Requiem Library” in the corner of church. This inevitably meant that their material was full of embarrassing and apocryphal stories from my childhood, the truth of which I completely deny in all respects! Having said that, it’s hard to completely blame our own kids’ errant behavior on the other side of the family, and so perhaps the divine sense of humour echoes down through our genes, as a constant and humbling reminder! The point is this. All of my parent’s parenting advice was designed, not to teach people how to do life well, but how to be in relationships well. Indeed, all of life flows out of the quality of those foundational relationships.

The same is true in our lives of faith. Last week I spoke about the day of Jesus’ Resurrection, when the empty tomb challenged his followers to see life in a new light, and from a radically different perspective. The reality of our lives is that we live in a secular age, where seeing is believing, but we’re called — as people from another age — to see everything from a divine perspective, through the eyes of the Spirit who reveals the truth to us.

But, again, this is not primarily a matter of seeing the divine plan so that we can get on with it like good Christian soldiers. The Spirit has been sent to us, so that we might be drawn into relationship with God — that we would find ourselves “in Christ,” held by the Father, and sustained by the Spirit. What an amazing image of intimacy with our loving Creator Scripture invites us into. From beginning to end, from our genesis in the Garden (Eden) to our destiny in the Garden City (New Jerusalem), we are made for shalom — to be in perfect relationship with God and each other, and all of creation. That is what Jesus calls us into through his resurrection and the sending of the Spirit; that we would begin the journey towards our future destiny through intimacy with Him now.

On Wednesday, the funeral of the Reverend Bill Heald celebrated the life of a man who boldly pursued relationship with God, both personally and for the church. Bill was Vicar of St Paul’s for 9 years between 1984-93, and was a passionate sponsor of prayer and worship in the church. His legacy is a vivid reminder that God has been pursuing intimacy with his people since he first breathed life into Adam and Eve in the Garden. In those days, our forbears walked with God in the cool of the evening, and Jesus invites us to walk with him too.

One of the songs during Bill’s funeral was the great hymn “Abide with Me.” As we continue to explore what it means to live in light of Jesus’ Resurrection, we remember that this is, first and foremost, a call to “be in Christ”; to abide with him; to live out of the bold assurance of our Creator’s affirmation that we are His chosen children. Today, we may only see in part as Paul says, but resurrection life is a call to explore more of that part, and to walk further into the relational destiny that is set before us.

Rev Jonny Grant