Good morning! It’s good to be here!

Over these past few weeks we have all had to adjust to using different methods of being together. But being together is what we are achieving week by week.

Although we may sound and look different, we can still join as a community.

Although the building is closed, Church is still very much open for business.
It did occur to me that us being in an imposed lockdown certainly has an impact on our 5 senses.

Touch – We are not able to touch our loved ones. Hugging is a no-no, whilst those hands need to be washed more often.

Sight – We cannot just go and see our friends, or family. We have been given boundaries and rules. Perhaps we have become too confined to our own four walls.

Hearing – How often does the phone ring? When we read words on a text or email, but cannot hear the voice of the one who sent it.

Taste – we have no appetite to eat alone. A shared meal becomes something some us have had to avoid.

Smell – I have particularly missed the smell of being in the church. The heady mix of incense and fresh flowers usually hang in the air at this season.

Whichever way we look at it, our bodies have had to be re-conditioned to cope with this situation, and once back to normal – whatever that is we will certainly cherish once again all the things we have had to avoid.

The Easter story is one that challenges the senses as well. Forgive me for reminding you of last week’s gospel.

The disciples still cannot believe their eyes when they go to the tomb and find it empty.

After Mary saw that the stone had been rolled away, she struggled to understand what had happened. Perhaps she ought to have recognised that man standing in front of her, but blinded by her tears, she couldn’t see who it was. Once she heard the Lord’s voice, her senses were filled with the one she had loved and let go.

Simon Peter and the others too, went to look, to smell to feel closest to the Lord, in the place he had been laid.

All their senses were over flowing with what they had seen and heard.
Today’s gospel reading provides us more to consider.

With four words, familiar to us all, Jesus reassures those gathered that they are going to be alright, they are not alone, he says “Peace be with you”. They see the marks of the nails in his hands and side. They were in the presence of Jesus.

And then there’s Thomas, the one who missed the party, the one who couldn’t accept what he had heard.

He just could not believe that the Lord had somehow been returned to them physically, even if only for a brief moment. Thomas needed all of his senses to be filled by the reality that Jesus was alive.

But what can this encounter with Jesus teach us. Things are strange in the world right now, and in these days of Easter do we feel like Thomas, afraid, imprisoned, doubting that Jesus has again arisen from the tomb; that death has been defeated.

We will once again worship in the church again. . Just as the tomb couldn’t contain Jesus, then the church building isn’t where we just find God. He walks with us in the midst of our pain and doubt, and our joys and daily achievements. Perhaps like Mary and Thomas we dare to catch a glimmer of new life around us.

These are the signs of the resurrection of Jesus for our time now, that the love of God hasn’t left us, but through the resurrection of Jesus our senses are refilled with love and joy and peace.

Faith, our faith in Jesus, is more than a five-letter word. It requires the use of our senses. It requires us to hear God and to feel the Holy Spirit within us. The faith that Jesus tried to inspire in his disciples is the same faith God wishes for us now.

While we may never personally see the marks made by the nails, or smell the spices used, we know through faith that Jesus rose from the dead to save us. Jesus lives among us, fully knowing us and loving us in the most human terms.

As a people of the resurrection, faith is what guides us to live the kind of lives that Jesus envisioned when he preached. He spoke about love and forgiveness and motivated his disciples to preach that message of hope to everyone.

There is a recognition that we all will fall short of the goal sometimes; everyone has a Thomas moment. Doubt sets in occasionally for all of us, and there’s nothing better than 24 hours alone to help that!

In these days of Easter, even though the World has become pre-occupied, may we as a community, although scattered be encouraged to wrap ourselves in the love of the Risen Christ.

I didn’t write this but I like it, perhaps words for this week’s journey,

Doubt sees obstacles,
Faith sees the way

Doubt sees the darkest night
Faith sees the day

Doubt dreads to take a step
Faith soars on high

Doubt questions, “Who believes”
Faith answers, “I”.

Alleluia, Christ is risen
He is risen indeed, alleluia.