The Second Sunday of Easter

I am speaking to you but you have no idea where I am. Where I am right now. (To be fair, I only have a hunch about where you are when you’re reading this.) You know the hemi-sphere and the country of my whereabouts – southern hemisphere and Australia. I might be alive or I might be dead and yet at this moment I am speaking to you for as long as you read these words.
The spoken word is ‘alive’ – you can hear and receive emotion and meaning and intention – it is personal but it is also fleeting. It is said, it is heard and it is gone. It can be remembered, re-said even but the spoken word is for the moment. The written word flattens the word to a page. The more we know the writer the more we may ‘hear’ them in the reading but the idiosyncrasies of the speaker will give way to grammar. However this word has a permanence for as long as the writing is visible. Whenever these words are read, the writer ‘speaks’. The recorded word can be played back but usually because the person isn’t present. The words spoken and heard bring people together is many ways.
In the Gospel of John we hear God described as ‘the Word made flesh’ (John 1:14) and that seems to be the best of both worlds because we prefer to see but we need to hear. That was Thomas’ issue or grievance. He didn’t see. His hearing wasn’t faulty! He heard the oth-er disciples. ‘Thomas, we have seen the Lord!’ But he refused – a deliberate act – to believe and he set up his own criteria for faith – sight on his terms. What Thomas was doing howev-er was closing his ears to more than 6 words but to all the words the disciples would have kept saying; to all the words he had heard the past three years from Jesus; and to all the words he had heard in synagogues and the temple and in the Old Testament scrolls and from the rabbis about how God is gracious, how God is a shepherd, how God is faithful, and how God would send his anointed (the Messiah / the Christ). When Jesus appears to Thom-as he offers to let Thomas try out his ‘proof’ (which Thomas doesn’t seem to do) but Jesus makes it very clear that Thomas didn’t need to see to believe because if you have the right words, they are enough.
Christians say that the right word is Jesus. He speaks personally through the words of one person to another – fleeting words – and he speaks through written words – which give us a permanent truth and a reference so that we don’t add our own words.
People might wonder where God is … and think that he is not here but far away. That’s what our eyes tell us. (God isn’t here, look around and see for yourself!) However what we learn because of an empty tomb is that wherever the Word of God is spoken, read, sung, prayed, meditated upon there is Jesus – alive and permanent. And when Jesus tells us to do some-thing – to remember him with bread and wine, he is present; to make disciples through baptising and teaching, he is present; to forgive in his name those who sin, he is present. Why? Because he says so!
We are not delusional, playing fantasy games and make believe but people who have heard words about Jesus – who he is, how he lived, how he died, how he is alive again forever, and why – and those words have grabbed hold of us and created truth; truth to live – and die – by.
Christ is risen! He is risen indeed! GS