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“And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

These words of the risen Jesus,spoken to his disciples right at the end of Matthew’s gospel, have particular power in our current circumstances.

Presence matters. It matters to us when we are no longer able to be present bodily with those we love. It matters when we cannot hug a relative who lives in another city. It matters when we cannot extend a handshake to a fellow parishioner. It matters when we cannot simply be with each other sharing a meal, sharing space, sharing life.

Through his incarnation – taking on a human body – Jesus understands our hunger for this type of presence. Read through the gospels and you’ll notice how often his body becomes a means of grace. When he reaches out his hand to heal and when he reclines at table alongside sinners, divine abundance encounters human need. At the climax of the gospels it is his body, given for us on the cross, which brings salvation and forgiveness.

Resurrection affirms our deepest intuitions about these matters. On Easter Jesus does not shrug off his body as if it were a distraction from his mission. Instead his body is raised to new and glorious life, the firstfruits of a new creation. Yet, something has changed. The risen Jesus is able to be present with us anywhere and everywhere, unrestricted by the limitations of life in this present age. Through the Holy Spirit he is with his people whether they are gathered in great congregations or scattered in private homes. We are never isolated from him or he from us.

As our nation journeys through the challenges caused by COVID-19 we have an ideal opportunity to witness to the risen Lord Jesus. In such a short time I have heard wonderful stories of people across our Diocese engaging our very different world with the love and truth of Jesus:
• ministry teams producing online worship and discipleship resources
• parishes setting up ‘telephone trees’ so no-one is forgotten and uncontacted
• children and young people writing letters (remember those?) to parishioners who
don’t have access to the internet
• school teachers working tirelessly to shift to a new mode of teaching and learning
• Anglicare staff being redeployed away from normal duties to where the needs are
greatest.

Please visit our Diocesan website (www.anglicancg.org.au) and click on the ‘Keep Connected’ button to be kept up to date with all that is being done in Christ’s
Name.

None of us knows how long this present crisis will last. We can know that the risen Lord Jesus, the one who has conquered death and the grave, will be present with us to the very end.