turn to joy'
11th April 2021
...make an impression...
Through our lives we come into contact
with others who make an impression
on our lives;
sometimes it is very brief and superficial;
often it is long and deeply profound
and when such relationships end
it can be devastating, and we grieve.
But grief comes in many guises;
we can dismiss it, push the pain deep down
and refuse to acknowledge it;
we can become angry and frustrated;
or we can accept it and own it;
for grief is the price we pay for love.
On Friday we heard the sad news
of the death of Prince Philip,
Duke of Edenborough.
I have always admired him,
here was a royal who was prepared
to flout protocol,
who didn't like fuss or
suffer fools gladly
but had been prepared to put aside
the opportunity of an promising career
to support his wife, the Queen.
He was a committed Christian,
a man of integrity and loyalty
whose life embodied the ideals of
Christian love and service.
He had a deep concern for this beautiful
world we live in and for the young;
many of whom had their lives changed
for the better by taking part
in his Duke of Edenborough Award scheme.
He lived life to the full and
there are many in Great Britain and
around the world who will mourn his death -
he was a unique personality
who will be greatly missed.
For his family, friends and all those
who loved him there will be a
great gap in their lives.
In our gospel reading this morning
we find Thomas in that state of grief.
He was mourning the death
of his friend, Jesus.
I wonder how long a week seemed to Thomas.
Because last Sunday evening
Jesus appeared to all the disciples
except Thomas and it wasn't until a week later,
or this evening,
that Thomas himself saw Jesus
and believed that he had risen from the dead.
I would imagine that week seemed like a
lifetime especially as, at the time,
he didn't know that Jesus would appear to him.
I think Thomas gets undeserving bad press.
People seem to only remember him as
the one who doubted but
only a few weeks before,
on the way to Jerusalem,
he was the one who rallied the
other disciples by saying,
"Let us also go,
so that we may die with Him."
that was not the action of
a doubter, but a brave man.
I wonder where Thomas went in the evening.
Perhaps he just couldn't stand being
stuck inside with all the others
and needed to go out for some air
and some time on his own to think.
Whatever happened when he joined
the others again, he found them in a state of
great excitement and joy bursting with
the news that they had seen Jesus -
they knew now that he had risen from the dead.
Poor Thomas. You have to feel sorry for him.
He and the others had been through so much
over the last week which ended
in Jesus being crucified.
They were all devastated and ashamed
of the way they had deserted Jesus at the end.
So, Thomas spent a week agonising.
He could see the impact that evening
had had on the others -
they were changed people.
But he just couldn't believe and he
was honest about how he felt.
He didn't pretend to a faith
he didn't have..
Thomas had to know for himself.
Then, a week later, or this evening,
they were all together again in the same place.
Maybe they were hoping Jesus
might return to them again.
Somehow Jesus was suddenly among them
giving his usual greeting,
"Shalom, Peace be with you"
I can imagine Jesus looking
at Thomas with such love,
forgiveness and acceptance that
Thomas's defences crumbled releasing
all the love and faith that
he'd been holding back.
Jesus even invited Thomas to touch
his hands and his side but
Thomas no longer needed
that sort of proof,
he had seen all he needed to see
and he believed.
All he could say was
'My Lord and my God.'
Grief turned to joy.
Through Thomas, Jesus wants to reassure
everyone that any barrier
to faith can be overcome.
Thomas encourages us to make that
same journey and dare to believe
that Jesus Christ is risen.
Let us hear and respond to the message
that he and the other apostles have to offer
for it is a message with the Resurrection
at the very heart of that message
The Resurrection is the message.
As with the disciples,
conviction in the resurrection of
Jesus can change us and our lives
as surely as it changed the apostles
all those years ago.
The question is,
will we allow that change and growth
to happen in ourselves and
encourage it in other people?
Let's hope so because a life lived
in the light of the resurrection
is a new and exciting life to be lived in all
its fullness and with the risen Christ
"Shalom, My peace be with you".
It may be interesting to watch,
or just listen to a song
sung by Lee Scott
via the link shown below.