Psalm 118:14-end, Acts 5:27-32, Revelation 1:4-8, John 20:19-end
““I am the Alpha and the Omega”, says the Lord God, who is and who was and who is
to come, the Almighty”.
Words in our reading from Revelation, and how comforting those words should be to us all today, as they have been throughout time. We have a God who is with us always, not that we, like Thomas, always believe or understand that. Yet today as the world is at this time, it is very much a fact that we all need to firmly hold onto.
“Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” Words spoken by our risen Lord in the Gospel reading for today, that we have just heard.
We are by nature a homogeneous animal, it is in our DNA to gather together and to seek comfort from one another, probably as the disciples were doing in that locked room where they had gathered.
We also heard, in the Gospel Reading from Easter Sunday, how Mary Magdalene, on realising that, who she thought was the gardener, was actually Jesus, at once went to hold on to him. Jesus said to her, “Do not hold on to me, because I have not yet ascended to the Father.”
Then, of course there is poor old Thomas, who I must say I always feel a little bit sorry for. He knew that Jesus, the one who he had faithfully followed for years, had been crucified by the Romans, had died and been placed in a tomb, and yet now he was to believe that he had suddenly turned up in a locked room with his companions. Well, would you have believed it? Yet it was true, and again there had to be that physical proof, “Put your finger here and see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it in my side. Do not doubt but believe”. Here was the very physical evidence that Thomas had asked for.
There is also that wonderful moment, on that first visit, when Jesus breathes on those gathered disciples, passing on to them the Holy Spirit. As in the reading from the Acts of the Apostles, as Peter tells the council, whom they had been brought before, that same Holy Spirit was, “the Holy Spirit whom God has given to those who obey him.” Here the apostles, who were not so long ago hiding locked in a room, are able with that power of the Holy Spirit within them, to stand up to the high priest and his council, and tell them the wrong they had done, “Jesus,…whom you killed by hanging him on a tree.” Now raised by God, to sit at His right hand.
Our Gospel Story is one that has travelled through time and across the world touching millions of lives. Bringing hope where there has only been despair, bringing healing and love, when all was thought to be darkness and pain. In many ways, in countless parts of our world today, there are many feeling helpless, alone and often unloved. Yet we know as Christians, as others of different faiths also know, there will always be the one who loves us, walks with us and holds on to us very tightly. For as Peter wrote in his first letter to the early church; “Although you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and rejoice with an indescribable and glorious joy, for you are receiving the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.”
So even in these darkest of times, when we do not know, or sometimes do not want to know, what tomorrow’s news may bring, if we have our faith, and hold on very tightly to that, then we will truly never be alone, or those we pray for, ever be without God’s, the risen Lord’s, and the Holy Spirit’s love and protection.
As the Psalmist writes in today’s Psalm,
“You are my God and I will thank you;
you are my God and I will exalt you.
O give thanks to the Lord, for he is good;
his mercy endures for ever.”