It was the evening of Easter. Jesus’ followers weren’t sure what to do with themselves. They were mostly taking the safe route and staying secluded – almost in quarantine. There was no telling what danger they risked if they ventured out into the hubbub of the town. And yet, they had heard good news from those disciples who had visited the tomb that morning. Was there any chance that the women spoke the truth? What could this mean for them all?
Then Jesus showed up in the middle of the gathering, and convinced the rest of the disciples of the truth that the Marys had already come to believe. Death did not have the final word! God conquered the power of death, and Jesus was raised to new life!
The disciples received Jesus’ gift of the Holy Spirit, but they still didn’t know what to do with it. Could they possibly leave their sanctuary and share God’s Spirit with others? What risks would they take by being out among the general population?
There was one disciple who was left completely out of the loop on all of this. Thomas had one of those essential roles. He was not afforded the luxury to stay in that room in quarantine – he had to work the front lines. Thomas wasn’t able to stay “safer at home.” When he returned from his work, he couldn’t quite believe what the other disciples had to say. Were they pulling his leg? He wasn’t sure, but if they happened to be right, the news was amazing.
They all lived in the tension of the unknown, until…
It was the week after Easter. Jesus’ followers still weren’t sure what to do with themselves. Most of them were still staying secluded. Thomas had taken the day off from his “essential” role in order to be with the other disciples. Over the past week, they hadn’t convinced him that they weren’t just pulling an elaborate prank – but Thomas held out hope that perhaps what they were saying might be true.
It’s hard to tell in these days.
So many voices, all claiming to know the truth, all vying for the attention of the people.
How can a person possibly know if Pilate’s voice is true, or Mary’s, or Peter’s, or the angel’s?
As it turns out, none of those voices matter. Jesus again appeared in the midst of the disciples, and Thomas was convinced at a glance! In this Sunday’s Gospel lesson, we hear the strongest profession of faith that anyone makes about Jesus in all of the Gospels: My Lord and my God!
The possibilities for applying the resurrection texts to your context are infinite. Whether your community is recovering from the worst of the COVID-19 infections, or preparing for the worst yet to come, God is with us through it all.
Whether your congregation is facing fear because of the virus or bank account balances or staffing changes, or any of the normal stressors that confront congregations every day – God is with you.
Whether you personally are secluded at home, or leaving home daily for your essential job while you pray for no contaminations among the people you encounter – God is with you.
So here we are.
The followers of Jesus.
Waiting in uncertainty.
Just like the followers did two thousand years ago.
Which RCL texts will be your focus for this week’s sermon? How will you continue to proclaim Christ’s resurrection from the dead when so many of our folks are grieving the loss of loved ones? How will your worship this week reflect the work and the love and the lives of the disciples in your congregation?
Blessings to you in your leadership, and in your preparation for worship this week. Please share your reflections and questions in the comments below!
Katya Ouchakof is a Lutheran chaplain in Madison, Wisconsin, USA. Her essential work includes fulfilling online orders for a local small business, and providing spiritual care at one of the hospitals in town. Katya is posting daily inspiration on her blog to help get through this crisis.
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