It’s the first Sunday after Easter, so it must be time for Thomas. Of course, there are other options if Thomas doesn’t have appeal for you. There’s Peter defending his right, and the rights of the other apostles to preach Jesus. There are the Psalms full of praise and thanksgiving. There’s the Alpha and Omega of Revelation. There are sermons within these texts, too. However, I always feel compelled to preach Thomas.
I have sympathy for Thomas, but I’m more like the others who were gathered in fear, trembling and grief behind locked doors. They shut themselves in and the world out. They were afraid for their lives, maybe afraid of losing what little hope they had left. For whatever reason, they sent Thomas out into the world. Maybe they needed coffee or bread. Maybe Thomas needed a break from the heaviness that was locked in the room with them. Unfortunately for him, he was out when Jesus came in.
Then Thomas had to listen to their tales for the next week. How many times did they say, “You should have been there?” or “You should have seen him, he looked so different.” Or “Did you see those wounds?” Thomas had to listen to them all week. This is where my sympathy switches to Thomas. He is having none of it. He won’t believe in Resurrection until he sees it for himself. He needs to see, hear, and touch before he will believe that Jesus lives. You know, I’m with him.
I need to see, hear, and touch the evidence that the Body of Christ is alive and well today. It seems we are more likely to be locked in our buildings afraid of what might come, afraid of losing what we have, afraid that everything has changed or will change very soon. We don’t speak our doubts out loud like Thomas did. We hide our wounds and hunker down, hoping tomorrow will be just the same as today. We want to see Jesus, but we don’t want to be Jesus in the world around us. We don’t want to our brokenness, our woundedness, to be our identifiers. We don’t want anyone to recognize the Body of Christ by the wounds we bear on behalf of others. Nope. Lock the doors and keep the world at bay.
The trouble is that locked doors don’t keep the risen Christ out. Those closed doors won’t prevent the Spirit from stirring things up. And no door will keep the Thomases among us from questioning what we’re doing. We say we are the Body of Christ, then what are we doing living in fear? Why are we not out there proclaiming Love to all the world with every step we take? If we are the Body of Christ, why do we not trust God enough to risk Resurrection that will make us into something new?
These early days after Easter are a tricky time for us. We should be waiting, watching to see what God is up to. Instead, we fall back into life-as-usual and lose track of all the excitement from Holy Week. We are onto other things. May is a busy month. We try to pack in so many activities before June comes along and many of our folks go off on summer holidays (is there a similar phenomenon in the southern hemisphere?). We don’t have time to be on the lookout for Resurrection appearances.
Yet, if we stop looking for New Life in and for the Body of Christ, don’t we fail to live into the fullness of the Easter story? After all, Thomas did not actually have to touch the wounds of the Resurrected Christ, did he? It was enough for him to be there in the room when Christ returned. What will it take for the Church of today to believe in the fullness of Resurrection? What will it take for us to trust the Alpha and Omega God to guide us into a future filled with life and Love?
Where are you this week after Easter? What has the Spirit placed on your heart to preach? Please join in the conversation that we may share this journey together.
Photo: CC0 image by Selvazzano Dentro
Rev. Dr. Rachael Keefe is an author and the pastor of Living Table United Church of Christ in Minneapolis, MN. You can find links to her blog, video series, and books at Beachtheology.com.
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8 thoughts on “RCL: Must be Thomas”
I’ve been thinking more about Thomas… https://rachaelkeefe.wordpress.com/2019/04/24/thomas-may-not-be-what-you-think/
I’m preaching on Revelation this week but pastoral prayer comes from John 20. https://lifeinthelabyrinth.com/2019/04/24/breath-of-peace-prayer/
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I’m preaching on Revelation this week but the pastoral prayer comes from John 20: https://lifeinthelabyrinth.com/2019/04/24/breath-of-peace-prayer/
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I, too, am preaching on Thomas. Doubt and questioning are healthy and necessary for a growing relationship with Jesus. All life is cyclical, and so is our walk with Him. Doubt causes us to question and search. We should not fear doubt. On the other side is a deeper faith.
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Oh man. Rachel, I want to simply lift your entire post here, and let that be the heart of my sermon. I read this week (Richard Rohr’s daily meditation) that “The archetypal encounter between doubting Thomas and the Risen Jesus is not really a story about believing in the fact of the resurrection but a story about believing that someone could be wounded and also resurrected at the same time!” I am going with that! Also, with the question, who among us has never doubted? If we have one week wherein we’re looking for some tangible evidence to back up our faith, does that mean we get to be called Doubting Patricia or Doubting Rachel? Anyway, I love where you are going with this. Thanks so much!
Thank you, Pat. As far as I am concerned, you are welcome to use whatever I post, attribution is appreciated, but feel free.