Second Sunday of Easter
19 April 2020

This Sunday’s Gospel (see the reading sheet) is a familiar one. I like it, not just because it features one of our patrons, Thomas, but because it adds a very human aspect to the post-resurrection narrative. I’m a person who likes evidence – proof. I like to deal in facts. Thomas wasn’t taking his fellow disciples at their word. He wanted to know for himself. Risen from the dead?! I don’t think so!

One of the [many] issues with the Coronavirus is that there are many unknowns. Medics and scientists don’t fully understand the nature of the virus or how to prevent it.  As we begin another 3 weeks of lockdown neither do we know if this will be the last period of restriction or if more will follow. There are no definites and that, I think, makes it much more challenging to deal with.

In the Gospel reading we find the disciples locked in a room together, fearful to go out, not knowing what will happen to them if they do. I don’t need to draw any parallels here, they’re far too obvious. Despite, though, the fact the disciples were locked away in fear and uncertainty Jesus came and stood among them and said ‘Peace be with you’. This was more than an ‘Alright? How are you doing?’ Jesus’ words are affirmations that all is well – the work that God set out do has been done – creation has been reconciled with God.

As we maintain our lockdown lifestyle, whatever that may mean for each of us, may we know the presence of the risen Jesus with us in our homes, our workplaces, our communities. Whilst we feel isolated and in fear – for those we care about, for those working in the NHS, for those in the care sector, in schools, in supermarkets, at Neary’s … – Jesus comes to speak to us. ‘Peace be with you’ is not just about a nice God being there it’s about God being with us and all for whom we care. It’s about God sharing in the anxieties we feel, in the suffering of those who are sick with Coronavirus, and sharing that burden with us. It’s not ‘God and us’, its’ ‘God with us’.

Finally, I reflect that it was a week between Thomas doubting and Thomas finding out for himself that Christ really was risen. Everything takes its time. Even with God.

Fr David Stephenson
St James, Haslingden
St Thomas, Musbury