Christ is Risen! He is risen indeed!
And this is just as true the Sunday after Easter as it was on Easter itself, with all the flowers and choirs and trumpets and bonus worshippers and long-awaited Hallelujahs! Most of us are celebrating the Resurrection this week with less of the bells and whistles, and with fewer people in worship. Yet the news of Jesus conquering death is no less amazing this week than last. Can you hold on to that excitement and share it with your people for yet another Sunday?
Peter’s sermon gives us a good start and some inspiration in this week’s RCL reading from Acts. He also summarizes the central good news of the Christian message in the reading from 1 Peter. If you wanted to, this Sunday’s sermon could focus on the words of Peter, the Rock on whom Christ built the church. This would be something a little different for the week after Easter. What a great redemption for the disciple who denied Jesus, for his words to motivate thousands or perhaps even millions to believe in Christ over the past 2000 years!
But I’m guessing that more preachers will choose to go with Thomas this week. RCL preachers get to hear his story every year. On the first Easter, when Jesus appeared to the disciples, Thomas was not with them. The disciples were locked up in that room for fear of the Judeans. Since Thomas wasn’t there, does that mean that he was not afraid of them?
After the appearance of the risen Christ, the other disciples tell Thomas about it, but he doesn’t believe them. Might this mean that he was often the butt of their jokes, and he didn’t want to fall for some trick yet again?
When Jesus returns the following week, he invites Thomas to touch his wounds. But the Scripture doesn’t record Thomas actually doing so! All we know is that Thomas made the most profound confession of faith, calling Jesus “my Lord and my God!” With these words, Thomas expresses his faith, not doubt. True, Jesus gives a gentle reprimand to Thomas, reminding him that many will eventually come to believe without having first seen the risen Christ. But it is also true that Thomas makes a clearer statement of faith than any of the other disciples did up to this point.
Some folks follow the tradition of Holy Hilarity Sunday the week after Easter. Telling jokes, using noisemakers in worship, teaching silly songs, planning unexpected surprises throughout the worship service… If Holy Hilarity Sunday is your practice, please share your favorite ideas below!
Do you have other things going on in the life of your congregation this week? Other angles on the assigned texts that are speaking to you? How is your energy level post-Holy Week? I imaging that this week we might see more supply preachers on this page and in our pulpits, as pastors called to congregations take a week off. What are you up to and where do you find yourself? Please share your ideas and join in the conversation!
Katya Ouchakof is an ELCA pastor in Madison, WI, and a contributor to There’s a Woman in the Pulpit. Her Holy Week self-care included playing with her niece and nephew and working in the garden. She is in the process of updating her blog this week – new site coming soon!
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