I would rather be somewhere else

Restored and commissioned

Holy Trinity Church, Huddersfield, Sunday 3/5/20

The earliest known photograph of Holy Trinity Church, Huddersfield, A sepia picture showing the chuch surrounded by fields.

I would not have been at church today.

Like last year, the plan was to take a week off because the Tour de Yorkshire men’s cycle race final stage was to be run between Halifax and Leeds, and I had planned to be there. One Sunday off in the first six months of the year is not a bad record. However, the coronavirus pandemic has postponed or cancelled a lot of sport. The sky is pale blue and wispy clouds are moving slowly eastwards. Ideal cycling weather.

Missing the cycling is greater this year, the penultimate stage of the men’s race and the final leg of the women’s race were to have finished yesterday here in Huddersfield. I have been looking forward to this since it was announced.

So it is no change here, another YouTube service at Holy Trinity in lockdown.

Not that there’s anything wrong with that. However, there was something wrong with the choice of video. The linked videos of the music had moving colours in the background that did not sit well with my autism. Even in the church produced parts there were times when the words of the responses moved towards the screen. What is wrong with having static words with no movement or distraction? I cannot turn distractions off, my autistic brain does not work like that. I can deal with most of the stuff, when someone is talking to camera I can look at the bookcases in the background out of the window to avoid eye contact, I do this when watching TV news anyway (BBC 1 pm News today was particularly bad in the number of talking heads). I have years of practice at compensating for being autistic. But why should I have to compensate for church? I want to worship God as who I am, not as someone wearing a mask.

The service was based on  John 21:1-19. Jesus meets with the disciple after the resurrection on the shores of Galilee and has a word with Peter. Service led by worship leader Val and vicar Mike preached. The sermon, or the parts of it that struck me, went like this:

It all happened by a fire. Jesus met the disciples by a fire and was barbecuing fish. Peter’s denial of Jesus also happened by a fire in Jerusalem. Between the two fires what happened to Peter?

Peter was in the upper room when Jesus appeared. Peter didn’t know how to relate to Jesus, the man who said he would never deny Jesus had returned to fishing in Galilee then Jesus turns up there and provides a catch of fish. Jesus says something ordinary, come and have breakfast. There’s something different about Jesus.

Later Jesus and Peter are alone, we are not told about where the other disciples have gone. Peter is aware of the grief and memories he has about denying Jesus. But Jesus does not accuse Peter. Jesus asks three times “Peter do you love me?”

If Peter had not allowed Jesus to speak to him he may have tried to compensate for what he had done by overworking, trying to put things right, or fallen into depression, he could have pushed it down. The others were not going to accept him now and Peter was going to fail again.

Jesus does not wanr us to repay him or want us to hide things. Jesus asks us, “do you love me?”

We receive his love. Jesus restored Peter and give him a new commission. To do the work of Jesus, feeding the flock is the shepherd’s job, Jesus’ job.

Jesus also invites us to share in his work, that may be as costly as it is for Peter — he will take up his cross and die.

Take time and ponder this during the week. Jesus is asking you the question “do you love me?” We may not have felt the love of Jesus. I pray (Vicar Mike still speaking) that you may be able to say, “yes.”

You say yes. What will be your ministry? What does Jesus want you to do?

One thought on “I would rather be somewhere else

  1. The love of our Lord is so profound. We say the peace of God passes all understanding… So does His love. God extends His hand and right arm to keep our gaze fixed on the ground is what we all do at times but Love lifts us up. Thank you for a lovely refjection

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