The View from the Vicarage: ‘My Lord and My God!’

Today is the Second Sunday of Easter and our Gospel Reading John 20:19-30 takes us to the account of the disciple Thomas, or St Thomas or of course Doubting Thomas as he is known. As I have studied and reflected this year on this well known passage it is verse 28 that has really struck me afresh. In verse 28 we read the response from Thomas when he sees the wounds of the cross: Thomas said to him, “My Lord and my God!”

Thomas has never really been well treated by being given that terrible name, I see Thomas as a man of faith, a thought through faith and even at times a fought through faith. He questions, he asks, he considers but the result is this: Thomas said to him, “My Lord and my God!”

This blog is entitled ‘The View from The Vicarage’ and having been invited to join a Facebook Page called “A View from my Window” where during this lockdown folk from all over the world post just one picture from their window I thought I might join in, here was my effort:

church

It was not a soaring mountain scape nor a the industrial beauty of  the worlds major cities like other posts, yet a picture of our Parish Church still managed to get over 3000 likes and some very special comments from folk all over the world. It got me thinking, I wish they could see the church that we are, the online presence that we have, the care and the love you are all sharing with one another at this time. I miss being in the church, it is a special and sacred space, it is also where we gather and that for now cannot be, but we are still together and you are all amazing, we stand with Thomas and can still utter those words: , “My Lord and my God!”.

As I contemplate all that we have gone though as a nation that has already lost over 15,000 to this appalling disease let alone the worldwide toll and as I think of our Gospel today and those words of St Thomas I am reminded of some words shared by a friend and colleague from oversees last time he visited. Bishop Francis Loyo, the Bishop of Rokon, South Sudan came and spent time with us in Doxford and Silksworth and it is a treasured memory.

loyo

Francis said to me “My worry is that the Western World does not think it needs God” and I have pondered these words since we have been locked down. Francis said “You can go anywhere, do anything, buy anything and cure anything, you have everything you think you need.” Today we know that this is not true –  we cannot go anywhere unless it is for work that cannot be done from home, the purchase of essentials or one act of daily exercise.  More importantly today we know that this is not true, we are losing people we love to a terrible disease with no vaccine.

Where does this leave us on the day we remember St Thomas and Jesus post resurrection? It leaves us OK to have doubts, it leaves us OK to have worries, it leaves us OK to need to think things through but above all it leaves us in need of God, in need of coming before him in prayer, it leaves us on our knees uttering those timeless words “My Lord and my God!”

I leave you with one of the hymns of the great hymn writer Isaac Watts, written in the early 1700s a time when disease was rife and life uncertain –  let us make it our prayer.

O God, our help in ages past,
Our hope for years to come,
Our shelter from the stormy blast,
And our eternal home:

Beneath the shadow of thy throne,
Thy saints have dwelt secure;
Sufficient is thine arm alone,
And our defense is sure

Before the hills in order stood,
Or earth received her frame,
From everlasting thou art God,
To endless years the same.

A thousand ages in thy sight
Are like an evening gone;
Short as the watch that ends the night
Before the rising sun.

Time, like an ever-rolling stream,
Bears all its sons away;
They fly, forgotten, as a dream
Dies at the opening day.

O God, our help in ages past,
Our hope for years to come,
Be thou our guide while troubles last,
And our eternal home!

Your friend and Vicar

David

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