Post Easter can sometimes be a time when we heave a sigh of relief that we have 'made it’! The celebrations of Holy Week and Easter are an emotional roller coaster and, like so many other occasions of excitement, the days and weeks afterwards can seem a little flat.
All too soon we have to move on in the church calendar towards the Ascension and then wait for Pentecost 50 days after Easter Day.
These weeks are important though because we can reflect on the resurrection appearances and how the disciples responded as they experienced the living Jesus. First there was astonishment, amazement, doubt, fear, joy; all these reactions were entirely natural after the disappointment at the death of Jesus.
Modern-day disciples, ie you and me, have also to ask ourselves how we respond to the living Jesus. Bishop John has written a book titled God lost and Found which addresses the issue of how Christians can revitalise their personal experience of the living Jesus.
Bishop John writes: 'When you dig a bit below the surface you are likely to discover that many of us who attend church regularly feel we have lost touch with a living experience of God.
The book is an honest assessment of something that troubles us all at times on our faith journey. I doubt very much if anyone is immune to this. Archbishop Rowan, when reviewing the book, commends it for the simple, down-to-earth approach to a complex and multi-layered problem.
It's very encouraging to know that we are not alone in such times of emptiness and even more helpful is the advice on how to live constructively during these periods.
On the fourth Sunday of Easter, I preached on the Acts 2 (v42-47) church which identifies the four fundamental principles of a church community. They are prayer, fellowship, the Eucharist and unity of spirit.
We are called to be communities of grace and the early church was established with those basic principles underpinning the life of the first Christian communities. In order to experience the living Jesus those same four principles are at the heart of our church and keep us connected to Him.
It's a good time to read again those post resurrection appearance accounts from the gospels. Whether its Jesus dispelling Thomas' doubt, or Jesus with the two on the road to Emmaus who recognised him in the breaking of bread, or Jesus appearing on the shore of the lake - they all have something to help us identify with our own experience of the living Jesus.
As we approach Ascension Day, when Jesus returns to his Father, we can feel the disciples' sense of a second loss. They had to wait in trust for the gift of the Holy Spirit which would energise and direct them in making known the living Jesus to future disciples.
We follow in a long line of apostles and our continuing quest must be to make known the dynamic influence that the living Jesus has in the world of today. Enjoy this period of post Easter calm and re-constitute your faith with some 'light' reading, (cf God lost and Found by John Pritchard)