Julia’s Very Important News of the Week: I saw an abundance of ducklings the other day! (I assume that is the collective term)
(These are not the actual ducklings we saw– when we saw the ducklings the mother duck hopped on the shore to hide from us, and clearly wanted the ducklings to follow but they were too small fluffy and adorable to climb up! Anyway we thought we might be causing unnecessary stress, so had to leave, hence the lack of photo.)
I am not a parent myself, so do correct me if I am wrong, but I have somehow got the impression that preparing children for the world can be a bit hard. The world has quite a lot to know.
There are different ways to prepare for something. When we were growing up, I loved watching my brother play computer games. My favourite ones were the story-led games, but I’d stick around for the other ones also (my brother was remarkably patient and kindly allowed this!) One more retro game he played quite a bit was a shooter game called Snipes- you had to get rid of the infestation of Snipes, but meanwhile they’d chase you round a maze and try get rid of you. As a child I found this very scary – I have a fear of being chased. (I believe this might also be hilariously related to my brother, but that’s a story for another day…)
One day, Alan attempted to teach me how to play Snipes. He patiently showed me all the controls, and told me the tricks of how to do well. When I was ready, he put it on the easiest level for me, with the lowest number of bases and the slowest Snipes, and set it going. I valiantly lasted somewhere around 2-3 seconds. I then ran away from the computer because I didn’t want the Snipes to chase me, and begged my brother to help. He did. I was very impressed with his bravery, and with myself of course for lasting as long as I did…
This morning I wanted to look at Acts 1.1-11, where Jesus spends some time preparing the disciples for what was to come. I looked at this passage with the St Peters youth group Risen on Sunday night over Zoom. They are an incredibly wise lot, so I thought we could all benefit from their wisdom this morning.
It says that the disciples saw Jesus during the 40 days after he’d been raised to life. The number 40 comes up a lot in many different places in the Bible – 40 days of rain for Noah, 40 years of wandering the desert for Moses, and 40 days of being tempted for Jesus before he started his ministry.
For the Jews, the number 40, when used in terms of time, represented a significant period of trial or probation. It’s interesting that Jesus went through his time of 40 day trial being tempted in the desert to prepare for his ministry, and then mirrors this period in spending 40 days getting the disciples ready for what was to happen next. The difference is that in Jesus’ 40 days, he took himself off to be alone, whereas the disciples are given 40 days where they saw Jesus and were given reassurance and reasons to have faith.
So Jesus prepares his disciples to carry on without him. In the animal kingdom, you see parents raising their young with the aim that when they reach adulthood, they will be able to cope in the world without their help. The delightful balls of fluff I saw on the canal will one day be Very Successful Adult Ducks.
However, Jesus makes it very clear his departure is different by talking about the Holy Spirit. The disciples don’t need to learn to do things on their own – in fact it’s important that they don’t! God gives them – and us – the gift of the Holy Spirit, enabling us to go on. God will always stay with us. Alan didn’t leave me with the Snipes, and God will not leave us with anything else.
Just to return again to the time period of 40 days: another thing I learnt from the youths is that apparently the word “quarantine” originates from the number 40. It’s because ships arriving in Venice during the plague had to wait for 40 days before entering.
We are currently in a significant period of trial. But God is with us. He always has been and always will. Even when preparing the disciples to be without the physical presence of Jesus, the message was that they were not alone.
Let’s pray that we can remember to lean on God to help us and give us strength.
Let’s think of those we know who need help, and ask God to help them.
Let’s thank God that he will always stay with us.
And a song to finish… have a good day everyone!