These are the words of huge disappointment spoken by Cleopas and his fellow disciple in the aftermath of Jesus’ crucifixion which they had just witnessed in Jerusalem. We can imagine the question swirling round in their minds as they tried to explain their feelings to the mysterious traveller who’d joined them on the Jerusalem road: have we as disciples of Jesus been wasting our time on a lost cause?
Looking through the Martyrs mission reports recently distributed in advance of our annual church meeting, I’m staggered by the huge investment of time and energy they represent. But it has certainly been time well spent! 40 people helped with various money matters; 40 young families provided with baby basics; 10 people experiencing homelessness housed for 12 weeks with long term support for another 4 all under one roof; 20 international students made to feel part of the community – and that’s just the new mission projects!
But beyond the help, love and care that our practical mission activities have brought to the lives of others, they are even more importantly a sign and an expression of a very specific hope: a hope and a belief that every human being is divinely created for life with God, and that nothing we face in this
life, not even death, can get in the way of continuing to enjoy that life.
It’s ironic that, for Cleopas and his friend, the cross was initially the sign that for them spelt lost hope and wasted time. But as the mysterious fellow traveller on the Jerusalem road opened the Scriptures to them, they began instead to see the cross as the means to opening up that life with God to all through the power of forgiveness; and in that brief final moment in which they recognised the traveller to be the risen Jesus, the cross suddenly became what is and has been for Christians ever since: the sign of freedom, of redemption and of life with God for ever.
And this is why at Easter we spend so much time in praise and worship and why all those groups (referred to in our mission reports) who contribute to our worship are so important; we are not wasting time in worship but expressing ultimately what our life is all about, enjoying God forever!