You leave for just a little while and miss the best thing to happen ever! How is that fair?!?
As we continue deeper into the Easter Season we hear more stories of how the first disciples experienced the Risen Christ. This week we have two appearances, one on the evening of Easter Day and one a week later. You can read it here. AS always the folks at Working Preacher have produced a commentary and a podcast to help get the sermon juices flowing. This pericope is also the Gospel for Easter 2 in all 3 years of the RCL (which means this is one of the rare weeks when the RCL and the NL have the same reading) and resources from Text This Week are found here.
What follows is what I wrote for my early thoughts this week. The original post is at Ministerial Mutterings:
I have always felt sorry for Thomas. In John 20 we are told that on the evening of Easter Day the disciples are huddled in an upper room, plausibly hiding from the authorities who might haul them all off to be crucified next, Thomas has the courage (or maybe he drew the short straw) to go out into town. Maybe he went to buy food?
While he was away Jesus appears in the room, Easter becomes real for the people gathered there. When Thomas gets back they all tell him “We have seen the Lord” but Thomas says he will only believe when he sees for himself. And ever since Christians have called him Doubting Thomas
It has been said that Thomas is the patron saint of everyone who misses church (or some other gathering) only to be told that the most wonderful thing has happened that day. But really I think he gets a raw deal. After all, what would you say if you were him? Would you believe this amazing story?
And to be fair Thomas does not ask for anything that all the others did not get. They all got to see and hear the Risen Christ before they believed/understood Easter. Thomas simply says he needs the same level of proof.
The challenge is for us. We do not generally experience the Risen Christ standing in our midst showing us the wounds of crucifixion (or if we do it is a much more mystical way than that described in the Easter stories). Even Paul (whose story we will hear later this month) has a different type of experience than the ones we find in the appearance stories. How can we believe that Jesus who died is now alive? And can we accept that this Risen Christ has deputized us, as he deputizes the disciples in an upper room in this passage, to go out and continue sharing the Good News? Where do we find the energy/strength/confidence to continue the work of Kingdom-building?
It is the Easter season. Christ is Risen. Can we believe it? Can we allow resurrection to change how we live?
What will you do with this pair of appearance stories?
Gord Waldie is an Ordained Minister in the United Church of Canada, currently in Northwestern Alberta. He shares his life with his partner and their four daughters and blogs (periodically) at Following Frodo or shares his “churchy-stuff” at Ministerial Mutterings. At the moment he is wondering when spring will truly arrive since it has been below -20C the last three mornings…
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