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Reflection For First Sunday After Easter

By 16th April 2023Reflections

Bible Readings:  2 Corinthians 4:13-18    John 20:19-23

Easter has come and gone, we’ve finished all the chocolate eggs, we’ve celebrated the Resurrection of Jesus with exuberant verses such as, Christ the Lord has risen today, hallelujah. So what now!… Well this is perhaps the very question the disciples were asking themselves whilst locked away in in fear in the upper room – what now?

The Church of Jesus Christ began with a group of frightened individuals in a second floor room in Jerusalem. But though trained and taught, they didn’t know what to say or do. Although they had walked with Jesus for three years, still they didn’t know what to do.

These were the very disciples who were going to carry on where Jesus left off, but at that precise moment, you would have to ask how on earth they were going to do that. All they appeared to be were timid speechless messengers, whose most courageous act to date was to get up and lock the door – with them on the inside, afraid to venture out.

All those declarations of devotion, all those boasts of bravado – but now they appeared broken and shattered. We don’t really know what most of those disciples did between Gethsemane and this time now together in the upper room. However, perhaps we shouldn’t be too hard on them because wherever they went and whatever they did, they took with them a memory. A heart-stopping memory of a man who called himself no less than the Gon of God…God here among them in flesh…

Yet, despite their own fear, their own actions they couldn’t forget Jesus and they came back. Yes they locked themselves away in the meantime, but they came back. Then all of a sudden, out of nowhere, Jesus appears among them, speaking those perhaps liberating words, peace be with you…

And as a result the church of Jesus Christ had its foundations in that room that evening. But now, some two thousand years on, what’s changed…

How many churches today exist in that paralysed kind of state that we found those disciples in that day. How many churches have just enough religion, just enough faith to come together, yes, but not enough faith and passion to go out and share the Good News. Good faithful people, lots of ideas and good intentions, lots of meaningful words and promises and yet while this is going on. The door remains locked and the story stays a secret…

We don’t turn our backs on Christ, now – but we don’t turn towards him either.

We know we should be doing something – but we’re not sure what.

We know we should be coming together – but we’re not sure why.

Upper room futility, confused disciples behind locked doors, what will it take to unlock them – what will it take to ignite the fire.

But in the midst of all of these there is this one basic element that cannot be overlooked, one element so vital that its absence ensures our failure. Peter, John, James and the others, they came back, perhaps banking on some crazy idea that the well of forgiveness that Jesus spoke of so often still had a few drops in it – they came back. They remembered the teachings of Jesus and their life with him, and daring to dream the master had left some word, some plan, some direction – they came back. Then they hear His voicepeace be with you.

Weeks later a transformed group stood beside Peter as to announced to the crowds, let all Israel be assured of this, God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Saviour.

What unlocked the doors of the apostles hearts? What enabled them to leave the safety of that upper room? Simple – they encountered the risen Lord. And as the Apostle Paul went on to say, I believed, therefore I have spoken…

Easter may have come and gone, but have we remembered that message. Have we remembered His holiness in tandem with his humanity, of how the sick were healed with calloused hands. Have we remembered the dead called from the grave with a coarse Galilean accent or the eyes of God that wept human tears. Do we remember…

In the world we live in it is all too easy to forget. So much happens from day to day, week to week, month to month. So many changes within our lives, so many alterations in the world around us and all of a sudden, perhaps without even realising it, somewhere back there – we leave Him

It’s not that we’ve forgotten Jesus as such, not deep down, nor is it that we turn away from him in any way. We just leave him and don’t take him with us. Life moves on at an ever increasing pace, at work and at home, and before we even realise what has happened, Christ is forgotten…But here’s the thing,  if He is forgotten, how can we proclaim his message in the way he called us to – as the Father has sent me, I am sending you…And before we know it, we have come full circle and are once again that group of timid, fearful disciples in the upper room.

Yet still we need not despair, still we need not fear, for whilst we may forget Him and forget to take Him with us in our lives. He is still there, He is still with us – and always will be. All we need to do is hold on to our faith and listen, listen for that still small voice that we thought of last week on Easter Sunday – peace be with you…

So when we find ourselves in that upper room space again, let’s do ourselves a favour and just wait. Wait for his voice, wait for Him to come and stand beside us – and when He comes, don’t rush to leave. As mere mortals we are never the same after simultaneously knowing our own utter despair and Christ’s unending grace. And it is in that moment that we can go, just as he is sending us, to tell His story far and wide. To the glory and to the honour of his name.

The Lord is Risen and is with us every day of our lives.

Amen and thanks be to God.