Christ Church Gardiner
April 19, 2020
Unless, I see. Those were the words of Thomas when the disciples told him that Jesus had visited them the night after the resurrection. The others got to see Jesus and even to touch him. Why not Thomas?
Let me see my friend, my teacher, the Risen Christ that you speak of, for myself, Thomas insisted.
We may be feeling something similar these days.
Christ is risen.
Let us see it.
Death is overcome.
Let us see it.
Hope is stronger than fear.
Let us see it.
Love is stronger than death.
Let us see it.
Thomas knew that the tomb was empty. But knowing that wasn’t proof that everything that Jesus had promised was coming true. His grief and confusion were real. When he said, “”Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands and put my finger in the mark of the nails and my hand in his side, I will not believe,” he was expressing lament. Lament that he had been left out of the resurrection experience. Thomas was demanding that just as Jesus showed up for the other disciples, he show up for Thomas as well.
The lament of Thomas is something we have all experienced from time to time; perhaps, now more than ever. We find ourselves in a collective state of lament: we’re grieving, and we’re scared. And we want to demand that God show up in the midst of this trauma that is shadowing our world right now.
Because isn’t that what the promise of resurrection is all about? God showing up? Again and again?
Jesus showed up for the disciples the evening of his resurrection. He showed up despite the doors that had been locked out of fear. He came and he stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.” Those were familiar and comforting words to them.
Not many days before his crucifixion, Jesus was preparing the disciples for what was coming. Trying to explain how he would have to go away but that the Holy Spirit would be sent to them as a comfort and an instructor for how to live in the world without him. The disciples were fearful and confused even then. So Jesus comforted them with these words, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not let them be afraid.” (John 14:27 edited)
This was a message of reassurance. Of hope. And of oneness. But the peace of Jesus was not and is not deliverance from scary times. Only a promise of peace within them. (insight from Working Preacher)
In that locked room, the night that the disciples had discovered the empty tomb and waited together in their fear and grief, Jesus showed up to bring them peace. Peace for that moment. And peace for the times of fear and grief that would come later.
And then he breathed on them so that they might receive the Holy Spirit. This image evokes for us the Genesis account of God breathing into the first man to bring him to life. The breath of Jesus that gave the disciples the presence of the Holy Spirit, gave them a new spiritual life—one of a re-created humanity, a humanity that God has promised to love in life and in death and to bring into salvation.
Just like the disciples, when we receive the peace of Jesus and make room for the Holy Spirit in our lives, we receive the promise of resurrection—the promise that God will keep showing up in our lives. In good times and bad.
It’s natural to want to have proof of God’s presence. Like Thomas, unless we see, we may not believe. And while we may not get to physically touch the wounds of Jesus to prove to ourselves that he is risen, we know that Jesus is still showing up in the places where he is needed most.
Like in the donation that was given to Dave’s Diner, right here in Gardiner, that paid for meals to be delivered to shut-ins.
God shows up in the hundreds of people making and donating masks to keep people safe from the virus.
God shows up in the teachers working overtime, not simply to instruct their students in a virtual classroom, but to read to them and play games so that they stay connected.
God shows up in all those people doing jobs that are scarier and riskier because of the pandemic.
God shows up in the calls I get from parishioners asking how they can help. Offering money, time, food deliveries, and more. Offering to share those economic stimulus checks that are coming with those who have been hit hardest by the economic downturn caused by the quarantine.
God shows up.
Where is God showing up in your lives these days?
Where do you see the love of God showing up in the world around you amidst the tragedy of this pandemic?
How are you acting as the hands, feet and heart of Jesus and showing up for those who need the presence of Christ?
All through the season of Easter, we begin our worship with these words: Christ is risen! The Lord is risen indeed! Alleluia!
These words aren’t a wistful longing to experience the excitement of the first disciples upon discovering the Risen Christ. Resurrection remains to this day, God’s promise to us to keep showing up. So that we can live boldly into the future—a future that may seem uncertain and scary, but a future that we will face sustained by our faith in God’s love and by the promise that God shows up. Amen.