Thought for Sunday 19th April
Its only a week after Easter Sunday yet it feels much longer. Days extend time slows as we live out our lives in lockdown. Its not a good feeling especially as the government rightly tells us that the next three very long weeks will be the same. Three weeks becomes an eternity. I don’t like it, but it is what it is yet in only the way God can do things it has drawn me closer to the disciples. Imagine your Lord being murdered, the body missing, and out of fear you are in hiding in lock down literally behind locked and closed doors. That’s what it was like for the first disciples and this Easter that reality has become real to me.
So, what can today’s passage of scripture say to us. I invite you to open your Bible and read John 20 verses 19-31. I wonder how it spoke to you as you read it. I must confess this passage has a special place for Sandra and myself. Our son is named after Thomas the disciple because we both love the honesty of Thomas. I need proof for myself he says he wants to know for himself he’s not happy to rely on what he’s told by other people. I get that I lean more towards science and mathematics I want to see how something works for myself and of course the Christian faith cannot be adopted it has to be owned. My faith is my faith and Thomas is not a Christian because I believe or because Sandra believes. Instead Thomas has to see for himself and believe and I am so glad that my son found God for himself. Of course, as a young child Thomas saw faith expressed through the actions of Sandra and myself. All of us have a role to play as parents, grand parents or even great grand parents but in the end our Thomas had to make his own decision just as Thomas the disciple does in this passage when he meets the risen Lord.
Thomas misses the first encounter – for some reason he is not with the others when they meet Jesus. He has not heard Jesus say “peace be with you” or “I am sending you” he has not received the Holy Spirit with the others. Thomas has become separated on his own. His meeting with Jesus will be different the others met Jesus together after the resurrection and experience the sense of disbelief, the sense of wonder and the sense of realisation together. Thomas will be the only one experiencing those things when he meets Jesus as everyone else in the room has already met the risen Lord. Thomas is still living in fear whilst the others have found the start of a new hope through meeting the risen Jesus.
It’s clear that Jesus is concerned about all of the disciples he did not have to meet with all of them. He could have met with the majority gone back to heaven and let the other disciples explain things to Thomas. Imagine how Thomas would have felt if Jesus had done that. He would probably have felt like a second-class citizen. Jesus doesn’t do that he offers another opportunity for Thomas to meet him a chance for Thomas to have the proof he needed.
In this time of lock down we too as the Christian family are split apart, we are not meeting together. Some of us are in family groups Sandra Thomas and I are together yet feel the separation from our daughters and grandchildren. Others are at home on their own some with family who can be communicated with by the phone or Skype, Facebook, Zoom or some other media and some who literally have no one and who feel that sense of isolation more acutely. I guess those of us with others are like the disciples in a group those living alone are like Thomas the disciple. For me the important message we can grab is that we are not alone. Jesus is visiting us whether we are in a group or on our own. If you’re on your own remember Jesus ensured he met with Thomas and Jesus is with you during our time of lock down.
Yet the hope goes further to those who do not yet know Jesus – who have not met Jesus through us I hold onto these words said to Thomas,
“Because you have seen me, you have believed, blessed are those who have not yet seen and yet have believed.”
I invite you to join me in prayer for everyone living in the same lock down world as us who have not yet found God, that they might believe and that they might find hope in a God they have yet to really meet. May we also ask God to show us how we can demonstrate the love of God to those we come into contact with .