Saturday Week 4 of Easter

Some of the big turning points in our lives happen without us even noticing. We quietly turn a corner and only looking back do we even see the bend in the road. Turning points: the moment where friendship slides over into love; the moment when what has been hard work is unexpectedly a passion; or the moment you wake up to discover you believe something that the previous night you would have said was impossible; or the moment you first catch yourself behaving like your parents only to realise you’ve been doing it for most your life. Momentous things can happen with us hardly being aware.
There’s a major corner turned in the first reading tonight. Paul and Barnabas are drummed out of the synagogue in Antioch so they turn to the pagans instead and preach to them. Doesn’t sound like much… but so much hangs on that small thing. We—you and I and all our faith—hang on that chance happening. Because for Paul it becomes a habit, and then a strategy, and then a theological point—taking the message to those outside the Jewish faith of Jesus—to the pagans, to the unbelievers, and right through history to you and to me. If there hadn’t been that fight in Antioch the Jesus movement might have remained a Jewish sect instead of becoming a world religion—our religion. Luke, telling the story with 20/20 hindsight, obviously relishes it, wants to underline it, wants to make sure we see.
What would you do if you could go back to one of your own corner-turning moments—what would you say to yourself, with the benefit of hindsight, as you stand there at the turning point with a whole new life ahead of you? What could you say? Would it be a warning? Would it be encouragement? Would it be a promise that, against the odds, what you are doing is going to turn out right?
One thing I’d wager is this—that as you stood there face-to-face with your former self, ready to speak the words you’ve been preparing—my bet is that God would be there too. With God’s own words. God nudging you in the right direction. God lifting up your spirits as you face something difficult. God giving you heart, showing you a future full of hope, full of promise.
I’ve got another bet to make too. If the past is like that, then so is the present. We never notice the corner until we look back and see it long turned behind us. Tonight could be a corner in your life. Not because it is a retreat—though that might help—but simply because you are alive and your eyes are open and your soul is ready. So what would some future-you, come back to marvel at this moment, have to say? And more importantly what is your ever-present, ever-loving God, waiting to say… to you, tonight?
My prayer for each one of you, is that in these days you find the grace to find out.

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