Today's reflection comes from Rev Graeme Halls

We have moved from the seasons of Lent and Christ’s Passion, to Easter and Resurrection. This is a season of joy and fills our hearts with hope and love. For God’s great gift to all by his spirit is love, the love we see in Jesus, and know in our hearts today. 

 With the death of the Duke of Edinburgh, we as a nation mourn a great servant of the Crown, and of one who put did not put himself first but was willing to defer to another through duty and calling. It seems this was a long journey of discovery for him, learning humility and discovering a role within this. 

 Paul spoke about there being a sense of dying to ourselves that we might be fully obedient to Christ. Our instinct to be selfish and greedy is subsumed into a new desire to love as we are loved. A new mother understands this – to put the needs of others before ourselves is at the heart of our faith. 

The global covid vaccine distribution (or lack of it) is a test of our humanity and generosity. The vaccine is a passport from death to life, at least this is our hope. It must also be a hope for us all. Whilst putting ourselves first is something we recognise in our humanity, the commandment to love your neighbour as ourself, is what we are called to do. 

A hymn, often used at funerals or state occasions is ‘O God our help in ages past’. 

This hymn speaks of sacrifice, life given in service, and a God who, whilst much may be forgotten, remembers all. Paul writes about the responsibility and privilege of following Christ, and his need to preach whatever may happen to him. 

Read 1 Corinthians 15:1-11. 

Paul speaks about having received the gospel which he now passes on. He then rehearses what looks like a credal statement about the Resurrection, which he ends with a claim that even he, last of all, has seen the risen Christ. He was of course never one of the 12, or even knew Jesus, but he knew he was with him. Charles Wesley in his hymns often writes of him being last least worthy of all humanity to be saved, yet he is, for Christ died for all. In the gospel of John Chapter 11 , after the raising of Lazarus, John claims Jesus to be the resurrection and the life, with belief in this granting us eternal life. 

As the Duke knew, criticism and pain comes with positive words and action (and mistakes), but to do what is right, and good, within the love of God in Christ, is the deepest of all callings. Paul, often thought of as being arrogant, puts himself last, but nevertheless with work to do. 

A Prayer. 

Today we give thanks for the life of the Duke of Edinburgh, for a life of service and action, especially in the areas of conservation and young people. We pray for the Queen and her family at this time. 

We are thankful this week for new freedoms as the Covid pandemic retreats here, we pray that all will use these new freedoms responsibly. 

We remember young people who have suffered during the crisis, as well as those with mental health issues. And we pray for all who are bereaved. 

We reflect on our own calling, what is it we can do today to further live out this calling? 

O God our help in ages past,
Our hope for years to come,
Be thou our guard while life shall last,
And our eternal home. Amen.