2nd Sunday of Easter
Acts 2, vv. 14a, 22-32, I Peter 1, vv.3-9, John 20, vv.19-31
Rather unexpectedly, Easter turned out to be rather busy for me this year. I had thought that apart from preparing some thoughts for the website I would not be over stretched. In fact while thinking about how I should make use of modern communications and what I should try and project through them, I spent quite a lot of time on my preparations. In many ways it felt like a normal Easter. I’m well aware that it wouldn’t have seemed anything like that for most of you. And now that we are in the Easter season it hardly seems as if we have moved out of Lent. The routines that we have established becoming embedded and that joyous outpouring of life that we celebrate on Easter morning seems somewhat subdued. That Lent feeling will need to endure for some weeks yet.
The truth is that although our year is marked by periods of reflection and introspection, such as Advent and Lent as well as outpourings of joy, such as Easter, Pentecost and Christmas, the seasons are intermingled. As someone I met in the street last week commented, “Everything seems so beautiful and fresh at the moment, we have time to think and yet behind it all we know that for many there is a difficult struggle going on between life and death.” There is nothing new in that. Norman Adams’s “Golden Crucifixion” reminds us that crucifixion and Resurrection are inextricably linked. If you click on the image you can see it in a larger format. You will notice that the soldiers are blind, the mourners do not yet see, only Mary Magdalene with open arms sees Jesus’s butterfly wings.
I have taken the last few days as holiday and spent much of the time in the garden. It has been especially rewarding this year to have a little more time to get on top of those tiresome tasks and things are really beginning to look quite organised. I am waiting for some basil seeds to germinate in the greenhouse. There is a pot of summer savoury that I hope will burst into life soon and this morning I noticed that the dill has just broken forth from the earth, dampened by last night’s rain. Of course this time of year is always a time the growth and yet somehow we seem closer to it this year.
Was it just my mother who told me when I had a slight ache or pain that they were growing pains? I think not. Sometimes our growing pains are physical, sometimes mental (the rewiring of a teenager’s brain) and sometimes spiritual. I have felt that very much this year, especially as I pray in church. The pain of prayer when it seems as if God is absent is part of that growth, part of that moment in the tomb before life breaks out or before my dill seeds began to explore the environs of Winchelsea.
This week’s gospel tells us of doubting Thomas. His need for some kind of physical witness was part of his struggle; I expect my mother would have told him he had growing pains too. Pain and growth are signs of God’s work, signs of Easter – our gospel ends –
Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book But these are written so that you may come to believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that through believing you may have life in his name.”