April 2022

'Blessed are those who have not seen and yet believe' John 20.29 (RSV)


The disciples have been stunned by the events of the past days. After the trauma of Good Friday, the empty tomb brings questions rather than joyous celebration. Mary proclaims that she has ‘seen the Lord’ on Easter morning but most of Jesus’s followers have to wait, hiding away behind closed doors until he appears to them. Even then, the absent Thomas is unconvinced – greeted with the words “Peace be with you”, he needs literally to touch the risen Lord. Thomas needs to use his physical senses to arrive at certainty, to transform grief into joy, and to experience the power of the presence of the risen Lord.


It is impossible for us to see and touch the risen Lord as they did, 2000 years ago – but Christ appeared to them in a physical presence that transcended time and space. An Easter Day sermon began by asking the question ‘just how much do you have to believe in order to say you are a Christian?’  We ask all sorts of questions. Did Thomas in fact touch Jesus, or was his belief a result of Christ’s mere ‘presence’? Why did Christ say to Mary in the garden ‘Do not touch me’? Questions of all kinds surround the whole mystery of the resurrection …


Modern physics is entering the realms of belief rather than knowledge – an area in which certainty was once the ultimate goal has become one where uncertainty is a principle on which quantum theory is based. It could be argued that scientific theory entails quite as much that is essentially founded on belief as does religion.


Sometimes we are really conscious of the presence of God, as real as if he were indeed standing with us. It may be a sudden deep conviction, an identifiable moment or place when we are conscious of the overpowering and permeating knowledge that God is around us and inside us and speaking to us with a clear voice that blocks out every other sensation. Or it can be a quiet certainty, built up over years, that he is there, like an iron lung, perhaps breathing for us when we find it hard to manage for ourselves.


Through our times of contemplative prayer we seek to grow in this consciousness of God’s presence, cementing our belief in the risen Christ.