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April 18th 2020
From the Vicarage – Easter (2) 2020
I don’t suppose any of us were surprised when we were advised on Thursday evening that ‘the ‘lockdown’ was going to continue for ‘at least another three weeks.’ And for those of you in the self-isolating group, I think you have been reconciled from the very beginning, to being in this ‘for the long haul.’ Despite the continued grim daily news, probably the one thing that has brought us all much cheer in recent days has been the wonderfully inspiring story of the World War II veteran ‘Captain’ Tom Moore and his fundraising walk for NHS charities. Initially he aimed to raise £1000 by walking 100 laps of his garden in Bedfordshire, in anticipation of this 100th birthday later this month. He has now raised the staggering sum of over £23 million. (Probably plus a few more £million by the time you read this.!) The power of his story has been such, that monies have been raised in sponsorship from three quarters of the countries of the globe.! A truly phenomenal outcome for a very humble gentleman. ‘Captain’ Tom’s words as he completed the 100th lap revealed the wisdom of his long years of life’s experiences when he spoke…. ‘to all those people finding it difficult at the moment. The sun will shine on you again, and the clouds will go away’. Tom’s wonderful story has inspired hundreds of thousands of people to call for his knighthood for being a beacon of hope in a time of darkness.
The ability to see beyond the here and now, to hope for what is still to come, is a true gift. It is the great gift of hope, one that undergirds our Christian faith, that what we see now is not the end, but a glimpse of what is still to be revealed. In this Sunday’s Gospel reading from John Chapter 20 verses 19-31, we hear of Jesus’ fearful disciples during a ‘lockdown’ Their leader had suffered the most brutal death by crucifixion, and they would have been very scared that they would be tracked down by the authorities and suffer the same fate as he. Then suddenly, there in their midst, is Jesus himself, speaking words of peace and reassurance into their fearfulness. Mary Magdalene had already brought news to them that morning of seeing Jesus alive at the garden tomb on that first Easter day, but not all were convinced until Jesus was present among them, revealing the wounds inflicted upon his hands and side. Despite Jesus promises, it was only when they experienced his presence, that they rejoiced. This was replicated by Thomas not believing his fellow disciples when absent at Jesus first appearance to them, until he himself had also personally witnessed Jesus resurrection too.
We are fortunate during this period of our own ‘lockdown’ to have the opportunity to witness the peace and joy of ‘resurrection’ in our own midst every day. The natural world is bringing the discovery of new life to our attention daily, as buds form and open on what had seemingly appeared to be ‘dead’ branches and twigs on the trees, bushes and hedgerows of our gardens, parks and woods. In this moment, because we are still, we are privileged to witness God’s creation revealing the power of resurrection, bringing forth its own joy to us in its natural way, and bringing the gift of peace to us, during the fearfulness of our own times. I pray that our ‘lockdown’ time will give us a greater appreciation of creation and a care for our environment, of the daily miracles of resurrection in our midst and a spirit of thankfulness for all that we enjoy both in this world, and the promised hope through Jesus of the next. Words of an ancient prayer of wisdom ‘The General Thanksgiving’, spring to mind this Easter.
‘We bless thee for our creation, preservation, and all the blessings of this life; but above all for thine inestimable love in the redemption of the world by our Lord Jesus Christ, for the means of grace, and for the hope of glory…’