Thought for the Week 05 - Sunday 19th April 2020 by Rev Peter Baxandall

Carlton Colville  Parish Thought for the week - 19th April, 2020

These notes are prepared to help us focus on a thought – and the suggestion is that where possible we set aside time to read the notes and spend time in worship and prayer for our parish and nation at our usual time of worship.

Many have expressed the thought that to spend time in prayer and worship knowing that others are doing the same thing at the same time has a great source of encouragement.

We pray that today will also prove to be time of encouragement to us all as we look together at the ‘thought for the week’.

We begin this ‘thought’ as we look together at the words of the Hymn ‘How deep the Father’s love for us’ and perhaps sing along to the tune which we hope will be attached to a separate email.

This may be a less well known hymn, but we pray that as we sing it together it will speak to us about God’s love for us.

How deep the Father’s love for us,

how vast beyond all measure,

that He should give His only Son

to make a wretch His treasure.

How great the pain of searing loss -

the Father turns His face away,

as wounds which mar the Chosen One,

bring many sons to glory.

 

Behold the man upon the cross,

my sins upon His shoulder;

Ashamed, I hear my mocking voice

call out among the scoffers.

It was my sin that held Him there

until it was accomplished;

His dying breath has brought me life -

I know that it is finished.

 

I will not boast in anything,

No gifts, no power, no wisdom;

but I will boast in Jesus Christ,

His death and resurrection.

Why should I gain from His reward?

I cannot give an answer;

but this I know with all my heart -

His wounds have paid the ransom.

This is a powerful hymn and we pray that the words will stay with us throughout the day.

Having read or sung the hymn we will pray for one another as we pray the following prayer together:

Alleluia, Christ is risen – He is risen indeed, Alleluia

Risen Christ, to whom no door is locked, and no entrance barred: open the doors of our hearts, that we may seek to show the love of God to others and walk the joyful road of praise and worship to the glory of God the Father.

We would like to suggest that for our Bible reading we might like to look at John 20:19-29 as part of that joining together in worship

As we read that passage we see that there are two sections to the reading – the first on Easter Day, (verses 19-23) and the second, (verses 24-29) just one week later.

Here we are – one week after Easter Day – and we ask ourselves the question ‘what is going through our minds as we continue to ask God to speak to us in a fresh new way about the lasting significance of the great message of Easter’?

But there is also the question of what was going through the minds of the disciples of Jesus at this time.

It is difficult for us to put ourselves into the ’shoes’ of the disciples as they actually lived through the events of that whole period that led up to Easter Day.

As they sat together behind locked doors in that room they might recall the events along the road on the day that we call Palm Sunday as Jesus entered Jerusalem on the back of a donkey just one week before that Easter Day.

Thoughts might also fill their minds of the Passover Meal and the way in which Jesus completely reinterpreted it as He took the Messiah’s bread and took the Messiah’s cup.

Deep in their minds would also be the events of the crucifixion with all the horror of that event – and those thoughts and questions would fill their minds of ‘how can all this be happening’?

Then they might remind themselves of how the women had gone to the tomb earlier that first Easter day.  

They made their way there out of a sense of duty and not really expecting to be able to get into the tomb to anoint Jesus body.

However, when they go there they found that the stone had been rolled away and they saw the empty tomb which left them thinking ‘what is happening here’?

Following the discovery of an empty tomb they began to see the risen Lord – first one group, then another and then another.

In our Bible reading we see that late on that first Easter Day ten of Jesus disciples and a whole group of other followers were crowded into a locked room – and then the risen Lord appeared to them!

No wonder Jesus needed to say, ‘peace be with you’ – they were frightened out of their minds at that moment.

It is true that this could be a very general greeting similar to us saying, ‘hello, how are you today?’ 

But it was far more than that – here was the prince of Peace who was pronouncing God’s deepest ‘peace’ upon them.

In the Bible the word ‘peace’ has a much deeper meaning behind it than we often have in mind when we use the word.

This was the ‘peace’ Jesus promised them in John 14:27 when He said, ‘Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives’

This is the peace that is spoken of in Romans 5:1 where we read. ‘Therefore, since we are justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ’

This group had a long way to go before they really knew the full meaning of this greeting of ‘peace’ – but at least Jesus was able to calm their immediate fears.

Gradually Jesus helped them to see that it really was Him and that he has risen from the dead – just as he said would happen.

However, this group of disciples had one notable person missing from the group – Thomas.

Why was Thomas not with the other disciples when they met on the evening of Resurrection Day? 

Was he so discouraged and disappointed that he did not want to be with his friends? 

But when we are discouraged and disappointed, we need our friends all the more! 

Solitude only feeds discouragement and that in turn helps it grow into self-pity, which is even worse.

Even though we are in ‘solitude’ just now because of the exceptional circumstances that surround us – these notes are designed to help us feel as much ‘at one’ in Him as we can.

We call Thomas ‘Doubting Thomas’, but Jesus did not rebuke him for his doubts. 

As this group were together again just one week after Resurrection Day, Thomas was with them on this occasion.

He would hear the rest of the group speaking with joy about seeing the risen Lord - but Thomas found it hard to believe.

On this occasion, as on the previous week, while they were behind locked doors, Jesus came and stood among them and spoke those same words as the week before, ‘Peace be with you’

It is interesting, however, that when Jesus appeared on this occasion, one week later, no one needed to tell Him about Thomas’s difficulty.

Jesus went straight to the point – He spoke directly with Thomas, and as we see in John 20:27, Jesus said to him ‘Stop doubting, and believe’ 

Doubt is often an intellectual problem: we want to believe, but our faith is overwhelmed by problems and questions. 

Thomas is a good warning to all of us not to miss meeting with God’s people on the Lord’s Day.

At the moment we cannot meet together for particular reasons – but we would do well to remember Thomas when ‘lockdown’ finishes and when we are tempted to stay home from church. 

You never know what special blessing you might miss!

And if we sometimes miss going to church because we think that on occasions the services are flat and boring – don’t forget your responsibility about our worship together.

You have the responsibility to pray for God’s anointing on those taking the services as well as praying for yourself asking God for an open and teachable heart to learn from Him in that time of worship.

Because Thomas was not there with the rest on Easter Day, he missed seeing Jesus Christ, hearing His words of peace, and receiving His commission and gift of spiritual life. 

As a result he had to endure a week of fear and unbelief when he could have been experiencing joy and peace! 

However, in all of these events there are some ways in which it is possible to feel sorry for Thomas.

For one week he ‘doubted’ and as a result he has gone down in history as ‘Doubting Thomas’.

It would be better to think of Thomas in the words of John 20:28 where we read that Thomas said, ‘my Lord and my God’

May we today, each one of us reading these notes, be able to say afresh to Jesus, ‘my Lord and my God’

As we draw to a close this ‘thought for the week’ we can turn to a prayer for ourselves and for each other.

Lord God our Father, as we celebrate the resurrection of our Saviour Jesus Christ, help us to know more fully the peace that He offers to us in the gift of eternal life. Deliver us from the death of sin and raise us to new life in your love, in the fellowship of the Holy Spirit, by the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ.

And now, in order to conclude these thoughts together we have selected the well known and joyful Hymn ‘To God be the glory’ – and the words are printed below

To God be the glory! great things He has done;

so loved He the world that He gave us His son;

who yielded His life an atonement for sin,

and opened the life gate that we may go in.

 

   Praise the Lord, praise the Lord!

   let the earth hear His voice;

   Praise the Lord, praise the Lord!

   let the people rejoice:

   O come to the Father,

   through Jesus the Son,

   and give Him the glory;

   great things He has done!

 

O perfect redemption, the purchase of blood!

to every believer the promise of God;

the vilest offender who truly believes,

that moment from Jesus a pardon receives.

Chorus

 

Great things He has taught us,  great things He has done.

and great our rejoicing through Jesus the Son;

but purer, and higher, and greater will be

our wonder, our rapture, when Jesus we see.

Chorus

 

 

 


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