Highworth United Reformed Church

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Behind closed doors

By The Revd Robert Jordan MA

John 20:19-29

I love the idea of "behind closed doors" because it usually refers to something secretive, doubtful;  and yet here it is another step in the challenge of living our faith;  really pushing them out from behind those closed doors!

This Sunday's reading begins 'last Sunday', but concludes 'this Sunday'.   The first part of the reading happens the day of resurrection, the second part of the reading happens a week later.   To me the biggest question on the resurrection is not "how it happened" but rather "what it does to people".....and one of the most amazing consequences of the resurrection is how it transforms the lives of those people who are involved and this we continue to see in this reading we have just heard, and what it continues to do to people over the centuries.   If the resurrection had no effect on the life of the people, if there were no re-creation of humanity, it would only be a private event between Jesus and God.   So this is how it becomes the central point of our faith, because it touches us where we are and how we are.

The scene today happens behind closed doors because the disciples were afraid.   They had not really been involved in the events, until... What we read today is that "until".   To their fear Jesus offers his Peace, and with this peace there is also the sending out... the last thing they wanted at that time.   And something happens because they share with Thomas who was not there, and he is filled with doubts.   And Jesus comes through these closed doors once again, and deals with the doubts and questions...and something happens.   And has continued to happen.

It is when we see Thomas and the disciples that we understand what the pilgrimage of faith is all about, because between the fears of one and the doubts of others, and Jesus' caring even there, we have reached where we are today.   We too are those who believe without seeing, and should be able to relate to the scene.   We too have a process by which our faith develops, matures;  going from the darkness to the light.

And this whole process is a clear message that God can work through the realities of people such as Thomas, Mary Magdalene, Peter, and their humanity and our humanity. It is the process which goes from behind closed doors to walks of witness, to crosses of flowers outside the church, to open doors, to be known for our faith.   It is the way from fear to peace, from inside to being sent.

This is to me the true reality of resurrection, how it makes us the people we can be, even with our fears, doubts and vulnerabilities.   This is the way from death to life, from fear to trust, from despair to hope, from falsehood to truth.   This is what God chooses to do and as it touches our life, we can then respond as Thomas:   "My Lord, my God".   Amen.