In this culture, we often use a gold ring as a mark of the precious commitment and the hope of never-ending love made within marriage vows. Gold is expensive, doesn’t tarnish and it has that deep, warm glow that make it such a good symbol of something spiritually as well as literally precious. I have to admit, now that my knuckles have become a bit arthritic, I don’t actually wear my wedding ring these days, but that doesn’t mean I feel any less committed to my husband or love him any less. I don’t wear the wedding dress either; that was packed away in tissue in the wardrobe a long time ago.
I wonder, now that we have celebrated Easter Sunday, have we packed it away for the year or are we still deeply involved? Easter is a season of seven weeks in the annual Church calendar, but it is also a new beginning and a new way of being that is for ever. The Cross and the Resurrection are a transformation story, so what difference has Easter made to us, to who we are and how we live? When others look at us at work, walking the dog, out shopping or wherever, how can they tell we are Easter people?
Peter develops this theme throughout first letter that we begin to read from this Sunday and will dig into over the coming weeks. In Easter we have a living hope and the promise of a new future (v3). That hope and promise is an extraordinary, free, loving gift from God. But it is not something to be folded away in tissue, to be held in reserve, however precious. It wouldn’t really be a living hope if we try to lock it away inside ourselves. It is something to be put into action now as well as something future to rely on with confidence.
And we don’t have to worry about keeping this gift safe, because, as Peter writes, this inheritance from God is imperishable and kept in heaven for us. God is giving his protection to us now and also in readiness for us for eternity, through faith. But this is not a sort of handy get-out-of-jail-free card that means we are free to do whatever we want in life now; that was one of the misconceptions that the apostle Paul had to address when writing to the infant church in Corinth. Nor is this a cosy, safety bubble; we know that life is very often painful, distressing and unfair, and Christians suffer as much as anyone else. This theme of suffering trials and fiery ordeal is evident in the extract of the letter for this Sunday, and in the extracts read in the coming Sundays of the Easter season. Peter uses the imagery of gold testing – the trials we suffer sharpen our faith, and faith carries us through the testing – and the result is faith that is stronger, more beautiful and more precious than any gold. That faith is costly but it shines with the deep, warm glow of joy in Christ.
As we travel through this Easter season, may you experience how precious you and your faith are to God – more precious than gold – and may you be filled with joy in living hope.
Image by Dan Brown, 2006.
Free to use under Creative Commons licence https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/deed.en