Saturday, April 11, 2015

2 Easter Yr B April 12 2015

2 Easter Audio 4.12.2015

After a long day of waiting with his friends, the evening of the day his friend Jesus had died, Thomas was nowhere to be found. Maybe he  figured this thing was over and done with, they couldn't even find Jesus' body, who knows what the soldiers had done with it? Who knew he would miss Jesus? Who knew that Jesus would show up, that was absolutely unimaginable, unreasonable, too much to hope for. But his friends told him afterwards that Jesus was with them. That Jesus had said to them "Peace be with you" and had showed them his hands and side where the holes were.

Thomas scoffed at his friends and said, "You're kidding, right? That can't be true. Besides, in order for me to believe you, I'd have to put my hands in those holes myself." His friends shook their heads and walked away, remembering that Thomas was always the one who wanted proof, he wanted evidence, and in this case, he wanted the gory details.

They met together the next week as usual, and this time Thomas was there. They gathered together in the same room that they had always gathered in, and shut the doors behind them. They were still afraid that the soldiers might come after them.

And then, Jesus was there standing among them. How did he get there?How did he get in? All the doors were locked. Again Jesus said, "Peace be with you," and then he walked right over to Thomas and looked him in the eyes and said, "Thomas, I know you've always been the one who needs not just to know the facts, but you need to feel too. Go ahead, put your fingers on my hands, feel the holes. Go ahead, feel the holes in my side. Feel Thomas, feel the reality of what God has done."

As I listen to this story over and over again, what begins to make sense is that this story is not about belief, or doubt, or even proof and evidence. When I read this story, I realize this is about recognizing Jesus in our midst in an absolutely new way. I imagine Jesus didn't look the same as his old self. The story says that Jesus said to them, "Peace be with you," he showed them his hands and his side, and then they recognized him, "this is Jesus." This resurrected Jesus was recognized in an absolutely different way. 

He didn’t walk through the door like the ordinary Jesus, the doors were locked. They recognized Jesus in his words, Peace be with you, and receive the Holy Spirit. They recognized Jesus in his wounds. They recognized Jesus in transformation.

Maybe Thomas wasn’t there the first time not because he doubted, maybe Thomas wasn’t there the first time because he already knew. Maybe Thomas was already out doing the work of recognizing Christ in others, maybe Thomas was already out bringing the good news of God in our midst to the lonely, the outcasts, the thrown away. Maybe Thomas already knew that if you want to know that God is real, that Christ is alive and at work in the world, the best place for you to be is out there, in the world. Maybe Thomas was the brave one. 

Resurrection is not about magic. Resurrection is about the reality of the Kingdom of God. Resurrection is about the God who created all that is seen and unseen, the God who created you and me, doing this absolutely new thing in human history. Resurrection is about this new creation that was begun with Easter, and continues as we encourage one another to be active in projects of new creation, projects of healing and of hope. When we are active in projects of healing and hope, we are standing on the ground that Jesus has won in his resurrection. 

According to NT Wright, the former Bishop of Durham, writing on resurrection, we are not only the beneficiaries of new creation, we are the agents of it. You and I, when we are active healers, when we are active hopers, we are living in the new creation, and bringing about the Kingdom of God. Thomas, I think, was already about Kingdom business.

Together and with Jesus, we have journeyed through the dark times, we experienced betrayal and lies, we experienced the suffering and death, and we come to this place today, with Thomas and Jesus’ other friends and know that we are made new creations because of the journey. We are made new creations by what Jesus did, and we are agents of new creation by what we do. 

Do you need to know what is meaningful? Do you need to know what is real? Do you need to know that God is real? Do you need to know that Christ is alive, that sin and death itself are not the last word? Do you need to experience Christ’s presence? Do you want to touch Jesus, and know that Jesus is really right here with you?

Then hear Jesus’ commission to those upon whom he breathes his spirit; you are being sent out, into the world, and specifically into the world’s brokenness. You are being sent to touch those places, to proclaim and participate in the reconciliation and the healing that is Christ’s work in the world, to be the agents of new creation and transformation in the world. You are being sent because you, each one of us about to gather at Jesus’ table right here, and at every other table at which bread is being broken because Jesus was broken for us, are now the Body of Christ, Jesus’ presence at work in the world, called and empowered to do what Jesus did. 

If we want to know what is real, if we want to experience the transformation of Jesus, if we want to recognize Jesus, not only do we do that in this place and at this table, we’ll also have to leave the rooms we lock ourselves in because of fear. We need to do what Thomas did, get out into the world, and insist on touching Christ’s wounds. We can’t sequester ourselves from the world’s pain, we can’t isolate ourselves from our own pain. We can’t numb our pain, or over stimulate ourselves in order to feel something. We can’t keep our mouths shut because we don’t know the words to speak. 

Fortunately, Jesus keeps after us, breathing peace and power to go out there and touch the places where the Body of Christ suffers. Jesus keeps after us breathing peace and power to go out there and show people what is real, where there is meaning. Jesus keeps after us, showing us that pain and sorrow, suffering and isolation, do not need to keep us enslaved to fear. 

How do we recognize Jesus? How do we experience Jesus? How do we know? By getting out there, by going into the world and doing the work of reconciliation, the work of healing, the work of hope, the work of building relationships, by doing the work that Christ does. 

Alleluia! Christ is risen. The Lord is risen indeed. Alleluia!

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