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April 16, 2023

Second Sunday of Easter

Acts 2:14a, 22-32

Psalm 16

1 Peter 1:3-9

John 20:19-32

Alleluia Christ is Risen!

Christ is risen indeed alleluia!

Christ is risen,

the tomb is empty

the messengers from God have appeared,

and Mary has proclaimed to the disciples

that she has seen the Lord.

Christ is risen,

now what?

It’s a question both for the disciples and us.

When we join them today

The disciples still don’t know

what exactly is going on

except that three days ago

they witnessed the brutal execution of their leader

and now they have reports that he is alive again

or at least not in the tomb where they laid him

so they decide the best course of action

is to lay low for awhile

and that Sunday evening

finds them gathered together in fear and uncertainty

behind locked doors.

And into the midst of their fear and uncertainty,

Jesus appears

saying ‘peace’ to the startled disciples

I imagine them all sitting there in shock,

the doors are still locked after all,

and while they might have a guess

they’re still not completely sure who it is

until Jesus shows them his hands and his side,

marked with scars from being nailed to the cross

and pierced with a sword.

And then the disciples rejoice,

Jesus is among them!

But the question still hovers,

now what?

now that the disciples recognize him

Jesus is able to answer this question,

he gives them the gift of peace,

saying “As the Father has sent me so I send you”

and breathing on them,

just as God breathed into Adam at creation,

Jesus gives them the Holy Spirit

and tells them that they are to continue his work,

the work of bearing witness to the possible relationship between humans and God,

a relationship Jesus showed them with his life,

a relationship they are to now show others with their lives.

So now the disciples know what they are supposed to do next

and it’s not too long

before they get to try out their new role of bearing witness.

It turns out that Thomas,

one of their own

was not with them when Jesus came to them,

but he was a follower of Jesus

he should be an easy sell right?

So echoing Mary that morning

they proclaim to him

“We have seen the Lord”

and Thomas responds

“unless I see the marks in his hand for myself, I will not believe”

Now we don’t get the disciples’ reaction to this pronouncement

but I’ve got to think that it took the wind right out of their sails

because the next time we see the disciples

where are they?

Out the in the world continuing Jesus’ work?

No, a week later

they are in that same house

in the same room

with the doors shut.

The only difference is that Thomas is with them this time

and once again Jesus appears among

and them greets them with peace.

Then he turns and offers himself to Thomas,

saying “put your finger here and see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it in my side, do not be unbelieving but believing.”

When we hear these words

we sometimes add a mocking tone to them,

indeed we’ve added the epithet Doubting to Thomas’ name,

but there is no reason to interpret Jesus’ words and actions

as anything but filled with grace.

Jesus is offering Thomas what he needs,

encouraging him farther down the path of faith.

Each of us has different needs when it comes to faith,

Peter and the other disciple

all they needed was to see the linen wrappings lying in the tomb,

Mary needed to hear her name spoken by Jesus,

some of the disciples believed

when Mary announced to them that she had seen the Lord,

and Thomas,

he needed to put his finger in Jesus hands, and his hand in his side.

And having been given what he needs

Thomas believes,

he proclaims “My Lord and my God.”

and with that goes a step further

than the rest of the disciples in his belief,

he grasps the nature of the special relationship between Jesus and his abba

the relationship that John the author of the gospel

has been conveying from the very beginning

Thomas gets it.

“Have you believed because you have seen me?” Jesus asks,

knowing full well that it was what Thomas requested,

but then goes on,

turning it seems to us

saying “blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe.”

Again I don’t think there is judgment in those words,

Thomas is blessed with his faith through sight

and those who believe without seeing Jesus are also blessed,

we are blessed by our belief

not how we come to it,

there is no greater blessing than being in relationship with Jesus, with God

And having recorded Jesus’ benediction,

John turns once again to us,

the readers throughout the ages

and says: “Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book. But these are written so that you may come to believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that through believing you may have life in his name.”

And once again the ball is back in our court,

the tomb is empty,

Mary has delivered her message to the skeptical disciples,

Jesus has appeared to the disciples through locked doors,

given them the gift of the holy spirit and ascended to his abba.

Alleluia, Christ is Risen,

now what?

The end of Jesus’ story

is just the beginning of ours,

at our baptisms

we were given the gift of the holy spirit

and commissioned to continue his work in the world

just as Jesus gave the disciple the gift of the holy spirit

and commissioned them

to continue his work in the world,

so too are we

to witness to the life-giving nature of relationship with God,

all while walking our own path from unbelief to belief.

Simple enough right?


because no sooner than we’ve excitedly proclaimed

we’ve seen the lord!

We will meet a Thomas,

who demands proof that we ourselves cannot offer

and before we know it we’re back in that room

with the others who are just like us,

with the doors shut

wondering what to do.

And that’s when Jesus comes to us in grace

offering himself to us once again,

and gathered with fellow disciples

we listen to the stories of the signs that Jesus did

stories that point to a truth greater than the stories themselves,

a truth greater than us.

And together we share our own experiences with the risen lord,

They might not be as dramatic

as witnessing Jesus move through locked doors

or touching the scars on his body

but we have had encounters with the Holy,

whether it be through the community showing up at a hard time,

or circumstances all lining up in a way

that only God could have managed

or even something else,

and maybe some of us are still like Thomas,

waiting for what we need to believe,

but in the meantime

the community holds our faith in trust.

We come together wondering what to do

We share stories, sing songs, offer prayers

And then we gather as a community around the table

And Jesus comes to us proclaiming “peace be with you”

And offering us his body and blood

giving us what we need

and we reach out and receive that which was given for us,

Then, Blessing us

Jesus sends us back out

Back out into the world to share the gift of the Holy Spirit

To forgive and receive forgiveness

To live fully in Jesus’ name.

To excitedly proclaim We have seen the Lord! Amen

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