April 11, 2010
(John 20, 19-end)(Address for Family Communion. Easter 2)
I’ve got a penny in my hand. Do you believe me. Come and I’ll show you. Now do you believe me?
I’ve got £1 in my hand. Do you believe me? Come and I’ll show you. Now do you believe me?
I’ve got an elephant in my hand. Do you believe me? Come and I’ll show you. Now do you believe me? ( (model elephant!)
Some things are harder to believe than others. Sometimes we believe things because we trust the person who is telling us. As children, we gradually get to believe what our parents tell us – because we learn that they have our best interests at heart, and when they tell us ( for instance) that hot water will scald us, we believe them without touching and finding out for ourselves.
But when we are older and when things are very difficult to believe, we need the evidence of our own eyes before we can be sure. The apostle Thomas has come in for a lot of criticism down the centuries because he did not immediately believe that Jesus had been raised from the dead when the other disciples had told him. But why should he believe such an impossible thing? He knew what happened to people that the Romans crucified, that the soldiers would have made really sure that their prisoners were dead. He knew Jesus had been buried in a tomb and that days had gone by since the burial. The other disciples and Mary Magdalene and the women had all had personal experiences of the risen Christ. He hadn’t. Why should he believe in it until he himself had seen Jesus?
Once Jesus had appeared to him, he believed as strongly as any of the other disciples, and became an evangelist, taking the Gospel (so the tradition tells us) as far away as India, and founding one of the earliest Christian churches there. Lots of people came to believe because of the way Thomas and the other disciples lived and told of their their experience of the resurrection of Jesus.
We believe because we trust the experiences of the disciples and the accounts of those who wrote the Gospels.
But there is a very big danger that we may become smug because we ‘believe when we have not seen” and think that is all we have to do.
But the Gospel account says that Jesus did not just appear to the disciples – he also gave them a job to do. “As the Father has sent me, so I send you” he told them. “As I told you your sins are forgiven, so you must tell others their sins are forgiven; as I bring peace to you, you must bring peace to others; as you receive the Holy Spirit through me, you must make sure others receive the Holy Spirit through me too.”
Jesus gives us exactly the same tasks to do. So how do we do it?
Those of you who enjoy musicals may remember a song from the show My Fair Lady. Eliza Doolittle sings it in frustration to her suitor, Freddy Eynsford-Hill, who keeps coming around and telling her he loves her. She sings to him
Don’t talk of stars burning above;
If you’re in love, Show me!
Tell me no dreams filled with desire.
If you’re on fire, Show me!
Here we are together in the middle of the night!
Don’t talk of spring! Just hold me tight!
Anyone who’s ever been in love’ll tell you that
This is no time for a chat!
Haven’t your lips longed for my touch?
Don’t say how much, Show me! Show me!
Don’t talk of love lasting through time.
Make me no undying vow. Show me now!
I can imagine Jesus singing very similar words to his church; “Don’t just talk about resurrection. Show me!” And it is certainly what we need to do to convince people outside the Church that the resurrection makes a difference to their lives.
So, can we live the resurrection life now, in Watford, in such a way that we convince people that our faith makes a real difference to our lives and to the lives of everyone we meet?
Are we people who live in love and hope and joy? Do we forgive each other as we have been forgiven? Do we bring real peace to situations we are involved in? Do we allow what is past and finished to die, and go forward with expectation into new life? Do we sacrifice what we want for the good of others, even those we don’t like and who don’t like us? Are our chief concerns for the poor and disadvantaged? Are we always ready to make a new start, in the belief that God can bring new life out of what seems dead and lifeless?
Or do we just talk about it?
At St Andrew’s we have a once in a lifetime opportunity at the end of this month to show the community that we are ready to go forward as a church into new life. We have a new priest in charge being licensed – and on the same day it is hoped our new director of music will begin work with us. As we pray for Ian and Simon and their work among us, can we also prepare ourselves for this new chapter in our church life and pray that through the Holy Spirit, God will inspire and strengthen us to show that we really do believe and live the resurrection.
Come Lord Jesus. Show me how! Show me now!