It’s all over. No not coronavirus – Masterchef.

Last Friday we learned that Thomas Frake who specialised in English classics, despite a soggy bottom on his last cheesecake was the winner.

I really enjoy Masterchef and thanks to lockdown I watched most of the episodes – a rare treat.
The food cooked is interesting. John Torode and Greg Wallace make for a lively double act of judges.
But most of all I enjoy it because its about passion and transformation.

Passion in that those who succeed really love making food, and making people happy through their food.
Transformation because we share the journey some of the contestants go on as they learn new things as they are opened to new possibilities and ways of cooking.

If they’re successful the contestants get the chance to meet famous chefs who teach them new skills and give them ideas.

It’s always interesting to watch this and see how different chefs interact with people. There are those who are demanding, critical and pushy. There are others who show them the way, guide them and encourage them.

Both are valid ways of learning though I suspect most of us would thrive more in one than the other.

But what has this got to do with Easter and the reading’s we’ve just heard? Well, both readings speak a bit about transformation.

In the first Peter stands and proclaims Jesus as Lord and Messiah. He speaks to those who are listening of ‘the promise is for you’, of repentance, baptism, forgiveness of sins and receiving the git of the Holy Spirit.

I don’t know what image you have of Peter but mine perhaps shaped by Ladybird books and Sunday School is of a muscular figure. An alpha male. Head strong. Determined and demanding.

Going back to Masterchef he’d be one of those chefs that works to high standards, and expects those who work in his kitchen amateur or not to do the same.

In contrast in the Gospel we meet the risen Jesus, whose identity is hidden from his fellow travellers on the road to Emmaus. He comes alongside and listens to them tell their tale. He speaks with them. The tone is different. He challenges and accompanies them on a journey of discovery.

Both readings then are in some way about transformation.

Peter’s conviction, his passion, his telling his listeners to ‘save’ themselves, and of the gift of the Holy Spirit to transform their lives leads to thousands turning to Christ.

Jesus’ presence transformed the understanding of those with whom he shared his time, so that by the end they knew and their ‘hearts burned within them.’

For me it’s this encounter with Jesus on the road to Emmaus that speaks into the situation we find ourselves at the moment.

Describing as it does a Jesus who meets us where we are, who shares the journey with them and is revealed in the breaking of bread.

Though we aren’t gathered around the table in St. Mary’s this morning, we still seek to know this Jesus who walks with, and unites us through this time of separation.

He led those with whom he shared that journey and leads us today to discover new possibilities for life.

So, whilst there is a time for the Peter’s of this world to speak with conviction and passion. There’s a time too for a quieter voice to be heard that can lead us into a new place of discovery.

And the last few weeks though odd have been a time of discovery.

At work – as people have found new ways to work, based at home and drawn into the world of video conferencing.

And at home – as families deprived of hugs have been thankful for Facetime and Skype to see and talk to one another.

We may also have had to be a bit less independent and perhaps struggled a bit to depend more on the kindness of family, friends and neighbours.

Each one of us has had to come to terms with a different kind of life. And with more time on our hands, and the distractions that can define our lives on hold we have been confronted more acutely with who we are and what is most important to us.

Yet though part of us might long for a return to normal there is opportunity here too.

Those who followed Jesus were discovering a new kind of life.
They followed him, and then he died.
They were afraid. Locked in rooms. Dispersed.
Walking paths they knew well trying to make sense of it all.

And he came amongst them, strange and mysterious.
In locked rooms, on lakesides, and on a road to Emmaus.
Gradually they discovered he was risen. That he was with them still.

For us today we have been discovering a new kind of life.
As someone said to me last week their hope was that we learn from this time.
Learn to treasure again the simple things of life.
From the baking of bread and time in the garden, to more time for each other, continuing to be the good neighbours that so many have been.
Treasure too time for ourselves, to think, to read, to pray and savour the simple things that we so often miss.

This has been and will continue to be a time of discovery, about ourselves and about society as a whole. In the last few weeks, we have discovered that with desire and the will things can change. We can work together for the common good.

And whilst there are those who want to feed on our fears, those who are prophets of doom, who seek retribution, who want to blame, who just want things back as they were.

There is another possibility that might just help us discover each other, and the world in which we live again.

Jesus walked alongside those who were bewildered and confused.
He challenged them but his challenge led them to transformation.

If I were asked for one word to define how I understand the purpose of the Gospel of Jesus Christ it would likely be transformation.

A transformation that time and again takes from where we are, wherever that may be, and whatever life looks like for us now and offers new insight and possibility. Offers us new hope giving us a glimpse of the resurrection life into which we are called.

So good luck to Thomas Frake, I enjoyed his transformation to become Masterchef Champion 2020.

And today I pray that we may we be transformed too, not just as chefs but as people following in the way of Jesus on this precious fragile earth we all inhabit.