Grace Kennedy reflects on John 20:19-29

Published by Rev'd Tif Ewins on Wed, 22 Apr 2020 15:29

I’ve had a week of getting back into some CS Lewis. Here’s a line of his as we think about seeing and believing in our Gospel today.

“I believe in Christianity as I believe that the sun has risen: not only because I see it, but because by it I see everything else.” 

Its quite poignant at the moment to think about the difference between seeing and not seeing someone; especially someone you love.

We are so fortunate to live in a part of the world where technology gives us contact with other people, even in lockdown. But Thomas in this reading sees Jesus in the flesh; he touches his hands. He reaches out and feels skin and scars and the grip of his friend’s hands. I know a lot of us miss that contact, at the moment. Human contact. To see and converse freely. To be with, to hug, to grip a shoulder, to talk, to share. That is what the disciples get back when Jesus comes back. And we can perhaps appreciate that a bit better at the moment. They have been grieving, missing him, and living in fear. But he comes among them, and he says ‘peace be with you’. 

He comes, in this passage, with words of blessing, of peace - three times he says “peace be with you” ; he come with the Spirit of God to give courage and faith - he comes holding up hope. Holding up the brighter vision, the greater truth. His life, transcendent and resurrected, held up for the disciples and for all of us to see and believe and take hold of. 

And Thomas responds, “My Lord and My God”. It’s that awe inspiring moment of recognition and in recognition, worship. 

We see it whenever people recognise Jesus for who he is: Saul who becomes Paul recognises Jesus on the road to Damascus: “Lord”. Peter a few chapters back in John: “You are the Christ, the holy one”; Mary on Easter morning: “Rabboni”. Teacher. The two disciples on the road to Emmaus - when they realise who Jesus is they say “were not our hearts burning within us?” They have this deep moment of recognising the feeling of being in his presence.

We are in what may feel like a comfortless time. At least monotonous; for some of us, hugely stretching; for all of us, disorienting. And there is anxiety and struggle. But lockdown will lift, eventually, and we will be able to reunite, as a church, as friends, as communities, and it will be all the sweeter to be able to gather and worship and pray and share. 

But God is not waiting for lockdown to lift, here or anywhere. God Is meeting you daily, now, in life as it is. Jesus is already here; his life held up for you. He is written through the world. He comes to us in anxiety or strife and he says “peace be with you.” “Do not be afraid”. And he has so much more to say - about your purpose - about his love for you - and it is here in the air as you go about your day. 

Let’s take some moments - they can be the briefest of moments, truly - to turn our faces to him. Lockdown will lift, eventually - but our world especially beyond the UK and countries like ours - is facing great hardship of every kind for many months ahead. We will need to gather our courage and look to Jesus; so we can take hold of his life and hope, and go generously and prayerfully into that future. All the strength and hope we could possibly need are here already, in Jesus’ face, looking into yours. Saying “peace be with you; believe! I am sending you.” And our hearts respond, “my lord, and my God.”

I’m going to finish with the words of a hymn I love. 

“Be still, my soul: your God will undertake

to guide the future as he has the past.

Your hope, your confidence let nothing shake;

all now mysterious shall be bright at last.

Be still, my soul: the waves and winds still know

his voice who ruled them while he dwelt below.”

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