Some of you may know that last week Ken and I were away for a few nights in Selby, Yorkshire as I had been asked to take the funeral of a family friend. The gentleman had been a friend of my dad’s who he had met when they were doing their National Service so I had grown up calling him Uncle Peter. He and his wife had two daughters about the same age as my brother and I so, usually twice a year, we would meet up with either us travelling to stay with them for a weekend or they would come and stay with us. Even after I left home, I have continued to keep in touch with them and we last met up a couple of years ago when they had a cottage in Northumberland. When we learnt that he had died we both said that we hoped to be able to go to the funeral and I was surprised and honoured to be asked to take his funeral service.
Even though I have known them for a long time and I have obviously taken many funeral services since coming into ministry we were both anxious about our trip to Selby. Part of that anxiety was the pressure from not letting someone we knew down. I hope that whenever I conduct a funeral I give my best but I feel more pressure when I know the deceased or their family. The other part of the anxiety was the journey. Since getting an electric car 18 months ago this was the longest journey that we had done and we had never had to use public charging points. Whilst we probably had enough charge in to get all the way to Selby, we did stop at Wetherby services to charge the car up. Although it took longer than filling a fuel tank it was relatively easy so we won’t be as concerned about travelling further afield in the future. We enjoyed our two nights away and the funeral went as well as a funeral can.
It's hard to think that Easter Sunday is on the horizon and that we are a quarter of the way through Lent with only 30 days of avoiding temptation left (Sundays are not included in the 40 days of Lent). Between now and Easter the disciples have many anxious moments (25th February Jesus foretells his death: 3rd March Jesus overturns the tables: 10th March people turn away from the light, 17March Jesus speaks of losing your life to gain it (grain dies to bear fruit) and on 24th March Jesus rides into Jerusalem where at the end of the week he will be crucified).
Anxiety is nothing new but perhaps we are more aware of it since the Covid 19 pandemic as we became anxious of being amongst people that we didn’t know in case we contracted it. Many of us became anxious when we felt that people got closer than the recommended 2metre distance. We are told that a certain level of anxiety is actually good for us because it prepares us for a ‘fight or flight’ response. However, to be constantly anxious makes us nervous and on edge all the time which reduces our ability to function and take any necessary action.
Many of us don’t like change because it often takes us out of our comfort zone and causes anxiety even if it doesn’t last long. Throughout the Bible we learn that God only wants what is good for us. He has often called leaders to try to get people to turn back to him after they have succumbed to temptation and turned away. Lent and Easter remind us that He sent his Son to reassure that God loves us and to trust in Him. When we allow him to take full control of our lives then we have no need to be anxious. So, are we prepared in the words of the old hymn ‘to trust and obey in Jesus’? If we are, then when we do get anxious, we need to remember that Jesus tells us ‘Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. I do not give as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not let them be afraid.’ (John 14 v 27)