Saturday, April 18, 2020

Second Sunday of Easter Yr A


2nd Sunday of Easter Yr A
Acts 2:14a,22-32, 1 Peter 1:3-9, John 20:19-31, Psalm 16

Alleluia! Christ is risen: The Lord is risen indeed, Alleluia!
Can you imagine…. Just think of it, you go to the place where Jesus is buried, and he is not there. You see someone you take for the gardener, and when he calls your name you quickly recognize him as the teacher. You run to tell your friends that you have seen the Lord. And then, when it was evening on that day, you gather with your friends in fear and trepidation, and Jesus shows up again. Jesus says, Peace be with you, he shows his hands and his feet, and then breathes on you, receive the Holy Spirit he says. But Thomas isn’t there. When you tell Thomas that Jesus was there with you in that room, Thomas laments missing the unbelievable appearance, who knows where he was, probably out getting snacks and beverages, and Thomas wants to see Jesus too. Jesus hears Thomas’ lament, and shows up again, in that very room where you and your friends were staying.

That’s all Thomas needs. That’s all any of us need, isn’t it? In this story, Thomas is the courageous one. Thomas is the one who is willing to say, I need to see Jesus too. Thomas is not so different from me, or even you. I need to see Jesus too, and feel that breathe of Holy Spirit on my face, in my hair, relieving my fear and anxiety. You see, Thomas is not asking for proof, he is asking for what he needs, Jesus was there with all the others, Thomas wants the same. And what Thomas wants is the promise and the reassurance that they have not been abandoned. Thomas wants this relationship; Thomas must wait a week, but Jesus still shows up. You and I want this relationship, and Jesus shows up.

For a moment, let’s look back at John’s gospel, so that we can establish our place in it today. We know that John’s gospel contains signs and wonders. The word miracle is not used by John, very purposefully the word is sign. Signs point us in a direction, we read and follow them because we want to be on our chosen path. The signs in John’s gospel do that, they point us in the direction John wants us to look. John’s seven signs begin with turning water into wine at Cana and conclude with raising his friend Lazarus from the dead. We know however there are many more than just seven, we just heard that Jesus did many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book. But these are written so that you may come to believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that through believing you may have life in his name.

That relationship is what courageous Thomas wants, and needs. I think that relationship is what we want and need as well, us courageous followers of Jesus. And as Jesus holds out his hands to Thomas, and invites him to touch his sides, Jesus offers himself to Thomas, fully human, fully God, and in that moment, Thomas realizes he doesn’t really even have to touch Jesus. Thomas breathes out, my Lord and my God. Thomas expresses all of our hope and all of our fear.

John points to Jesus. Fleshy, bloody, incarnate. Jesus eats, sleeps, is prone to anger and capable of deep compassion and sadness; his heart breaks and he cries at his friend Lazarus’s death. And Jesus turns water into wine, makes sure 5000 people are fed, and raises Lazarus from the dead. John’s gospel invites us, you and me, into a relationship with this, this God in the flesh, Jesus. Jesus is fully human, and being human means being born to die. What becomes incarnate, fleshy and bloody, must die, Jesus, you, and me. And Jesus weeps for death, for his own, for his friend, and for us. And yet, Jesus rises. Death cannot keep Jesus in the tomb. The reality John’s gospel points us to is the reality of relationship. Courageous Thomas shows us this lord and God who reaches out to us to offer grace, compassion, and abundant love.

And there it is, the reality in which we live. In the midst of whatever we are feeling in these days, pain, suffering, grief, isolation, Jesus also lives, Jesus shows up. Jesus reaches out to us, with fleshy and bloody hands, and a compassionate grief-stricken heart, and offers abundant love and grace. Grace upon grace, grace that flows from blood, sweat, and tears. Grace that infuses our bodies with the healing possibility that makes new bodies. Grace that flows forth with living water, that cleans and refreshes. Grace that creates in us the body of Christ.

Courageous Thomas shows us Jesus, who shows up in the muck and the mess of life. Courageous Thomas shows us Jesus who is fleshy and bloody – otherwise known as fully human, and Jesus who is God. Courageous Thomas gives us the gift of hope, hope in a dark and fearful time, hope when living is behind closed doors, hope when we just don’t know what comes next.

Courageous Thomas shows us God’s grace upon grace and God’s abundant love.

Courageous Thomas shows us Spirit that breathes peace and forgiveness on us, spirit that revives our weary bones, spirt that that makes us new creations.

You have seen God’s grace and love at work in your places. What does that look like?
You have been God’s grace and love at work in your places, this is Jesus showing up.

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