Beauty surrounds us, but we usually need to be walking in a garden to know it - Rumi
On Easter Monday our son, his wife and our granddaughter came to see us bringing with them several pots of bedding plants for the garden. Given the mess the garden was in at the time we placed them on the window ledge in the back lobby where they would catch the sun whilst we decided where we wanted to plant them. This morning I saw a blackbird fluttering outside the window. He had seen the plants and recognised that there would be nourishment there for him. What he hadn’t reckoned with was the glass window between him and his desire!
This week’s Gospel reading, John 20:19-31 tells of Thomas refusing to accept Jesus’ resurrection "Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands and put my finger into the nail marks and put my hand into his side, I will not believe." (v25) Now I have sympathy with Thomas. I have no doubt that he wanted to believe; no doubt he had been with the other disciples when Mary came back from the empty tomb on Easter Day and heard her news. He had heard, too, Peter and the beloved disciple’s report and knew what the disciples on the road to Emmaus had told them. Yet there was something inside him that said, “No, it is just not possible for a man to die – to be killed as Jesus was – and to rise again from the dead. It is just a physical impossibility. No-one has ever survived crucifixion.” Anyway, how could anyone enter a locked room without breaking down the doors? Maybe he wasn’t too sure what had happened to Lazarus; but that’s another story. The simple fact was that there was too much that didn’t make sense at present for him to get his head round. Yet the clear message of the gospel story is that believing that Jesus is risen and alive is not dependent on physical contact with Jesus (Thomas makes his profession of faith without touching Jesus), but coming to believe does depend on personal encounter.
Now, are we like Thomas? If Jesus were to come to us today, through what locked doors might He have to pass? The blackbird could see the brightly coloured bedding plants but couldn’t get to them because of the glass window. But, the window has a latch on the inside by which to open it. So what stops us from throwing open the glass window of our hearts to let our Blessed and Saviour into our lives? After all, He is there waiting patiently for us to invite Him in. But something prevents us from crying as Thomas did “My Lord and my God” John 20:28(KJV)? In fact we are more likely to say: ‘Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief’ Mark 9:24(KJV). Yet what stops us from embracing Him wholeheartedly? Coming to believe more deeply that Jesus is risen and alive is the work of the Spirit within and among us.
Peter is a father and a grandfather who has been retired from full time employment for a number of years