The biggest pair of spectacles going

Easter 2a – Sunday 1st May 2011
John 20: 19-31

Greenacres Congregational ChurchFor the first time in 17 years I’m going to be in Church on the Sunday after Easter! Don’t believe it? Well, be there! Greenacres Congregational Church. Sunday 1st May 2011. 10.45am.

Is it a special occasion? No.

Have you run out of holiday? No.

Then why are you making a big fuss about it?

It’s because Easter has changed the school holiday pattern here in Oldham. This year, for the first time ever, the schools broke up two weeks before Easter, meaning that we’re all back at work on the Tuesday after Easter. I’ve had my Easter Sunday off – three weeks ago!

And everything feels wonderfully different this year too. My whole preparation period leading up to Easter has had a relaxed, laid back feel to it.

Walkers Stadium, LeicesterThe weather has played its part too. Two weeks ago I walked down to the Walker’s Stadium in my short sleeved football shirt to watch Leicester City thump Burnley – the last time I watched a game I had a T-Shirt, jumper, football shirt, coat, scarf and gloves on!

Nemisis at Alton TowersLast week I didn’t mind getting a soaking on the log flume at Alton Towers as the sun shone down on a family trip to the Theme Park.

Easter this year has been a breathtaking assault on the senses. Sights, sounds, smells, tastes and textures have enriched the days.

And isn’t that what faith is all about. Faith is not a one dimensional journey, faith doesn’t just connect with us on a cerebral level, or on an emotional level, or on a spiritual level.

A visit to the cinema these days will allow you to watch a vast array of films in 3D – I can’t wait for the new Pirates of the Caribbean film out at the end of May. I have to admit a look a bit of a burke with two pairs of glasses balanced on my nose, but hey, it’s worth it for the visual treat.

A visit to Church these days should enable you to discover faith in at least 5D. Imagine what the spectacles should look like!

Easter Sunday was just such an experience at Greenacres. Our taste buds were tickled with a full fried breakfast, we worshipped outside taking in all the beauty of a wonderful springtime, we sang great songs of Easter hope, we smelt the flowers, grass and bacon, we shook hands, hugged each other, even exchanged a kiss or two, we watched the children running around looking for the hidden Easter treats, we heard words of love and compassion from the Easter story, we felt the presence of God gently touch our lives – Easter in wonderful 5D, and all without the need for silly glasses.

The story today from John’s gospel is about a faith that is multi-dimensional. One of the most familiar post-resurrection appearances sees Thomas have his 15 minutes of fame. I love the way that The Message tells this story, in a chilled, laid back sort of fashion. The climax is pure beauty, and the words not just for Thomas but for every Disciple of Jesus:

Jesus said, “So, you believe because you’ve seen with your own eyes. Even better blessings are in store for those who believe without seeing.”

Jesus provided far more God-revealing signs than are written down in this book. These are written down so you will believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and in the act of believing, have real and eternal life in the way he personally revealed it.

BelieveReal and eternal life. I think that phrase is just great. Isn’t that what our kingdom faith should be all about? Real, eternal, 5D life.

The final words on this passage must go to David Ewart at Holy Textures, who often drops a wonderful word of wisdom into my thoughts as I plan for Sunday:

But that is the whole point John tries to make throughout the whole Gospel.

John doesn’t care what we see with our eyeballs. He wants us to SEE with our inner eye who Jesus really is.

That is why he has written these signs for us. That in SEEing, we might believe; and in believing, we might have the life that is in Jesus.

Do you have the life that is in Jesus? Can you see it? Feel it? Know it? Glimpse it? Sense it? Walk in it? Then you have been blessed.

Happy days.

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About Neil Chappell

Husband, father, Congregational Minister and football fan all rolled into one convenient package.
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