Almighty and everlasting God, who in the Paschal mystery established the new covenant of reconciliation: Grant that all who have been reborn into the fellowship of Christ’s Body may show forth in their lives what they profess by their faith; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen. Episcopal Book of Common Prayer, Collect for the Second Sunday in Easter

It’s Easter Tuesday, and we’re all still tired. No matter how glorious our Holy Week and Easter worship has been, it takes a lot out of us. Nonetheless, unless you’re farsighted enough to schedule vacation for the week after Easter, ministry – and sermon writing – go on. Equally certain is that on the Second Sunday of Easter, those of us following the Revised Common Lectionary will encounter Thomas, the disciple who not only doubts, but who has the chutzpah to say so, and to demand some physical, tangible evidence.

LeCompte, Rowan and Irene LeCompte. Christ shows himself to Thomas, from Art in the Christian Tradition, a project of the Vanderbilt Divinity Library, Nashville, TN.
LeCompte, Rowan and Irene LeCompte. Christ shows himself to Thomas, from Art in the Christian Tradition, a project of the Vanderbilt Divinity Library, Nashville, TN.

We tire, I think, of preaching “Doubting Thomas” because the story is so well-known, and  so widely used (and misused.)  If we dare to admit it, though, many of us – preachers and congregations alike – can easily identify with Thomas and his demands. “Just show us! Prove it is so! ” Our challenge, therefore, is to present Thomas in a way that we can see him not as a just a doubter, but as one who dare to voice his doubts, and to confront his own disbelief. Seeing Thomas’ skepticism as something positive, acknowledging and facing our own skepticism can actually help us move forward on our faith journeys.

David Lose has suggested that we make room for doubt; I’m wondering if this isn’t a stance we might adopt and embrace in many ways as we work to be “church” in an ever more secular world. We in the Episcopal Church like to say that we welcome questions and embrace a spectrum of beliefs, but in reality we are no better than anyone else in acknowledging and facing our doubts when they interfere with our getting on with the ministry we are called to. And we are likely worse than many others when our doubts raise questions, no matter how valid, about “the way we’ve always done it.” Other traditions may be plagued with similar sentiments. So what if we took “Doubting Thomas” as an opportunity to preach on facing our doubts and questions and letting go of our fears  so that we might welcome whatever the future brings for us, trusting that Christ HAS risen, and that in God all things are possible?

When it comes to considering how we live together as communities of faith, the reading from Acts provides provocative material, and another tack for this week’s preaching. What does it mean for community members to hold all things in common, and to use those resources to meet the needs of the world? In our highly individualistic culture, this is a truly radical idea, one that historically hasn’t worked out very well when it’s been tried. Does it have any relevance for us in today’s world, even in the church? Or is it an ideal too far removed from reality for us to take it seriously?

Do you know where your sermon is headed? Is some piece of the readings speaking to you in a fresh way? Or are you too tied to think about it now? This week, perhaps more than usual, may we draw on one another for inspiration and support. Join the conversation and let us know how you’re doing!

15 thoughts on “Revised Common Lectionary ~ If it’s the week after Easter, it must be Thomas edition

  1. I’m focusing on two parts of this story: 1. locked doors and a gift of peace: 2. believing into life

    I am bored with Thomas and doubt.

    Think I may have to do two sermon preps because I’m preaching in the morning at the shelter and in the afternoon at the bi-cultural congregation. I never know what I’m doing until Saturday.

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  2. I’m playing with the theme of “Honest Thomas” He was the one disciple who said what he was feeling! We all question and wonder, and really, anyone who tries to say they believe and understand this whole resurection thing out of whole cloth, is not being completely truthful.

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  3. I’m thinking of fast and feast cycles, and how they seem like breathing to me: breathing in the spirit as we look inward during times of fasting, and sharing that spirit with others as we look outward during feast times.

    We sing about the 12 days of Christmas, but we’ll be just 8 days into the 50 day celebration that is Easter. What do we do when we celebrate? We share with family, friends, and neighbors (they knew how to party much better in the first century than we do now.)

    So in the Gospel, the disciples share the good news with Thomas (even if he finds it incredible – that is to say, not credible).

    In the Acts reading, we see the that celebration extended to make sure no one is in need. What would that look like today – not only in food, clothing, and shelter, but also in sharing our stories and giving voice to others who have trouble being heard?

    How do we make the remaining 43 days of Easter a real celebration of the resurrection spirit?

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  4. I have not preached on the second Sunday of Easter for a decade because I visited family the week after Easter. However, this year I’m looking forward to preaching about the courage to ask questions.

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  5. Since it’s Communion Sunday as well, I’m working with 1 Cor 11:23-26 and Thomas. Two parallel tracks at the moment: how skepticism and questioning force us to remember/community needs its skeptics and the sensual nature of the texts – relationship between breath and speaking and hearing, eating and drinking – the relationship of the senses to remembering.

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