The promise of better days



  looks at the

  hope that is

  ours in Jesus 




‘There is but one May in the year
 And sometimes May is wet and cold,
 There is but one May in the year
 But before the year grows old.

Yet, though it be the chilliest May
With least of sun, and most of showers,
Its wind and dew, its night and day,
Brings up the flowers.’


May is always a varied month, and two dates in the calendar really reflect this season: dates that are associated with events that give us the promise of summer and better days ahead. May sits just before the official start of summer in the UK, and it can be bright and warm, but some days we can be caught out by the cold and rain.

The promise of better days, though, lies ahead for us, not only in the weather but in the battle against the Covid virus. The promise of hope is central to those two dates I mentioned.

May 8th is the date when Julian of Norwich is remembered. Little is known about her personal details: even her real name and background are not known. She was an anchorite, a Benedictine nun who lived as a virtual recluse at an abbey in Norwich. At the age of 30 she became very ill and was on her death bed. The Last Rites were administered. Whilst in an unconscious state, she had a series of visions related to the Passion of Christ. She recovered and wrote about her visions in a book called ‘The Revelations of Divine Love’. It is thought to be the first book ever written in English by a female writer. The book contains details about her visions and also some very famous words of wisdom. One of the best known is possibly ‘All shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of things shall be well.’

Those are words that we can reflect upon: words that give us the reassurance of hope. When we look around at the world, it is easy to despair. We think about the pandemic, wars, violence, inequalities in wealth … but we are reassured by these words: ‘Everything will be well’. If something is on your mind or heart today, then think about Julian of Norwich’s words, give the issue to God, and all will be well.

Another quote from her offers us even more security: ‘God loved us before he made us, and his love has never diminished and never shall.’ God demonstrated that love for us: it may not have been revealed to you in a vision like that of Julian of Norwich, but it is there in the Easter story. He sent us Jesus to die for our sins and to be resurrected to eternal life.

And the Easter story is not over. The Easter Season continues through most of this month, including May 13th when we celebrate Ascension Day. In Acts ch. 1, v. 1-11, Jesus leaves the disciples here on earth and ascends to the Father. Before this happens, he gives them words of encouragement and reassurance: ‘You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you.’ (Acts 1: 8) .

This message is for us, too. We are Jesus’s disciples. The Holy Spirit is walking with us every day. Have you ever felt that? I often think when I do something and instinct prompts it that it is one sign of the Holy Spirit directing my life.

If you are feeling a little low and weary, then lift your heart up and think about the Ascension story and the words of Julian of Norwich. ‘All will be well’, and we have the Holy Spirit with us.

Julian of Norwich also offered some other words of encouragement: ‘Thou shalt not be overcome.’ This past year has tested most of us, but we know that God has walked with us through the journey. We are hopefully now coming out of the pandemic … and all will truly be well.

Thin lines
GRAHAM SMALLMAN invites us to think about sacred space in church