Over the Easter period I spoke at length about the effects of the Pandemic and its effects on us particularly the isolation that has been placed on us as we quarantine ourselves to try and stop the spread.
So I thought I would perhaps focus on something else.
But when I read the Gospel reading today – a reading that we have every first Sunday after Easter, I felt that this was such an opportunity to speak into exactly what we are experiencing at present.
When it was evening on that day, the first day of the week, and the doors of the house where the disciples had met were locked for fear of the Jews.
How similar to what we are experiencing at present.
The Disciples of Jesus locked away behind closed doors in fear.
Gathered in fear and confusion, they lock the doors, and wait.
And that’s just what we are doing.
Gathering in fear and confusion and waiting.
Waiting to be told it’s safe to go back out and be with people.
Be with our families.
Be with loved ones.
Be with our brothers and sisters in Christ and worship.
But what this Gospel reading also reminds us is that as we wait, Jesus is waiting with us.
Despite the locked doors – despite the fears – Jesus breaks through them and announces his Peace with them.
Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.”
Where are you finding your peace at the moment?
Where are you taking your comfort from?
The disciples were taking their comfort from hiding behind locked doors.
But for how long could they do that?
Eventually they will have to brave the outside world.
Then where will they find their strength – their comfort – their peace?
At the moment a lot of people are feeling the pressure of the uncertainty of not knowing when this is going to end.
And the uncertainty of when it ends what it will look like as we are told that there will be a new normal.
Will our churches be allowed to have unlimited numbers in them?
Or will they have to follow the previous rules and limit the amount of people.
Will we be discouraged from shaking hands?
Will we automatically go into lockdown this time next year.
Again, we don’t know.
But what we do know is that God is and always will be in control.
But it’s a question of – what does that mean?
What does it mean that God is in control?
When we have trust in God in times of uncertainty and believe in him – then God is in control.
St Peter tells us what that means in our 2nd reading.
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! By his great mercy he has given us a new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who are being protected by the power of God through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.
A lot of words to take in but note the particulars of what Peter is saying:
God has given us an inheritances that is imperishable and kept safe in heaven.
We are protected by the power of God through faith.
Peter is writing into a time of uncertainty also.
Christians were being persecuted and had to flee for safety so their future was unknown.
So in his opening he addresses his letter to – God’s elect, exiles scattered throughout the provinces.
Peter knows that the times are difficult for them, just as they are difficult for us as we live under directions that don’t just affect our family lives but also our churches that remain shut.
And so Peter encourages to trust God and to do so by asking them to:
Show proper respect to everyone, love the family of believers, fear God, honour the emperor or Prime Minister or Premier in our situation.
Like everyone else, I am struggling to come to terms with what is going on.
I miss seeing my family and friends in person.
I miss going to the gym at 3.30 in the morning.
I miss giving and receiving Holy Communion.
I keep asking myself, what is God doing about this.
But then I read what Peter says about this in our 2nd reading:
In this you rejoice, even if now for a little while you have had to suffer various trials, so that the genuineness of your faith … may be found to result in praise and glory and honour when Jesus Christ is revealed.
That’s how God remains in control – when we continue to give him praise and glory and honour in these times of uncertainty
Sometimes I feel a bit like “doubting Thomas”.
Sometimes I feel like God is not in control unless I can see him and touch him.
But as Peter says – even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and rejoice with an indescribable and glorious joy, for you are receiving the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.
And no one can take that from us – the salvation of our souls is guaranteed and that’s all that matters.
In fact this is what Jesus challenges us to do in these circumstances – to trust and believe even though we see no reason to do so.
When doubting Thomas is granted permission to touch and see so that he can believe that Jesus is really there with him Jesus responds:
“Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe.”
Friends, this is what we have been asked to do in these circumstances.
To trust and believe in what we cannot currently see – that God is and always will be in control.
Is fear holding us back from witnessing to our faith before the world today?
Is fear keeping us locked inside with feelings that Jesus is not with us?
Then let Jesus break down those locked doors of fear and join you to give you hope.
Hope that God is with you.
Hope that God is in control.
Hope that God will get us through this.
While our restrictions can keep us behind doors only we can allow fear to reside with us.
Fear is what replaces faith when we take our eyes of God.
And it is easy to take our eyes off God when it seems like he is not in control.
God is in control and will always be in control.
Whenever we’re afraid and lock ourselves away in fear, God comes to us in the midst of our fear and says, “Peace be with you.”
We will get through this and once we are able to again venture out again, we are sent to bring Good News of God’s presence with all.
Because once this is over there will still be fears by the general public.
Fears of standing on our own 2 feet once the Government assistances ends.
Once the banks and other institutions start removing their amnesties and want to be paid.
As God sent Jesus, so God sends us to bring Good News.
And that Good News can begin today despite our lockdowns.
If you’re out for a walk – greet people with a smile of hope.
Share these or other sermons with them.
Maybe even greet other people with “God bless you” or offer to keep them in your prayers.
Many I saw last weekend greeted me with a Happy Easter – what an opportunity.
While there is still that uncertainty let us focus on the certainty that was declared on Easter Sunday
Christ is risen – he has risen indeed. So let us go in the peace of the Lord.