Acts 2:14a, 22-32; Psalm 16; John 20:19-31
How different this day seems to be from last Sunday? One year ago, we sparkled and smiled – we sang, and we soared as we took part in the Great Festival of our Faith – Easter Sunday and our Celebration of the Resurrection. But today – today seems to be just another Sunday for this year. Well it is!!
We missed our traditional celebration of the resurrection of our Lord and Savior from the grave. “Why you say?” Well for me I have not been part of this church for more 3 months. Being new in Wisconsin and new as a pastor is something to become used to. Bigger than that is the invasion of COVID-19 throughout the world with its positive testing results and the many, many deaths just in Wisconsin. The new rules laid upon us by the Federal governments, state and local administrations, CDC. And WHO have curtailed every real meaning of our lives, even Easter
But today – today seems to be just another Sunday.
Gone too are the secular aspects of Easter
- the chocolate bunnies have been consumed
- the gaily colored eggs which were hidden have been found and eaten
- the jellybeans have been mashed into the carpet and removed, and our children and grandchildren were just as much trouble to rouse from bed today as they ever have been on those days which are not special.
Gone too is the contrast between the somber sanctuary on Good Friday with the black drapes and low lighting and the beautifully arrayed communion table of Easter Day. Gone is the aroma of lilies – and our choir, which swells so much for Easter – well it seems to be entirely on holiday.
Indeed, I suspect that most of us feel as though we are right back where we were before Easter – fighting familiar frustrations and bearing well known burdens, as if Easter had never occurred. Even today, when I would have given you a “Good morning everyone and Happy Second Sunday of Easter.” The church in fact celebrates not one, not two, but seven full Sundays of Easter. That is 7 Sundays, plus 43 . How long ago does Easter Day seem to you this morning? Of course, it is only a week, seven days, ago.
Perhaps you have been on holiday and time seems to have flown by. For others time may have been dragging and a week has seemed an awful lot longer. The importance of the holiday in the church life reflects the supremacy of the resurrection in our own Christian lives. So why don’t we celebrate 50 days of Easter? Why is it so hard to keep up the Easter spirit as the season goes on? We pack up shop the week after Easter, quietly put the decorations back in the storage closet, and get back to business.
I wonder how long a week seemed to Thomas. Because last Sunday evening Jesus appeared to all the disciples except Thomas and it was not until a week later, or this evening, that Thomas himself saw Jesus and believed that he had risen from the dead. I would imagine it seemed like a lifetime especially as, at the time, he did not know that Jesus would appear to him.
Because last Sunday evening Jesus appeared to all the disciples except Thomas and it was not until a week later, or this evening, that Thomas himself saw Jesus and believed that he had risen from the dead. I would like this morning to think some more about Thomas’s story and the impact the events of that week had on him and then see what we can learn from his experience.
At first Thomas was not the only one who doubted. The Gospels have differing accounts of that first Easter Morning but they all seem to agree that it was the women who first brought the news that Jesus had risen from the dead – his body was not in the tomb.
I wonder where Thomas went in the evening. Perhaps he just could not stand being stuck inside with all the others and needed to go out for some air and some time on his own to think.
Whatever happened when he joined the others again, he found them in a state of great excitement and joy bursting with the news that they had seen Jesus – they knew now that he had risen from the dead. Poor Thomas! You must feel sorry for him. Perhaps he just could not stand being stuck inside with all the others and needed to go out for some air and some time on his own to think. about what would when he joined the others again and he found them in a state of great excitement and joy bursting with news they had seen Jesus – they knew now that he had risen from the dead.
“Surely,” Thomas thought, “Jesus knew that more than anything else I wanted to believe he had risen? Why hasn’t he given me the same proof he gave the others?” So, Thomas spent a week agonizing. He could see the impact that evening had had on the others – they were changed people. But he just could not believe, and he was honest about how he felt. He did not pretend to a faith he did not have. He struggled between doubt and belief until he felt he was being torn apart. He prayed for the proof of being able to touch Jesus and his wounds so that he could finally believe.
Maybe the others started calling him “the Doubter” during that week and kept trying to convince him by their words but, no, Thomas had to know for himself.
Then, a week later, or this evening, they were all together again in the same place. Maybe they were hoping Jesus might return.
Somehow Jesus was suddenly among them and when I imagine this scene, I think that for a moment Thomas was the only one who could see Jesus. Their eyes met and stayed on each other as Jesus gave his usual greeting, “Peace be with you.” I imagine that Jesus looked at Thomas with such love, forgiveness, and acceptance that Thomas’s defenses crumbled releasing all the love and faith that he had been holding back. Jesus even invited Thomas to touch his hands and his side, but Thomas no longer needed that sort of proof, he had seen all he needed to see, and he believed.
I imagine then that Jesus took Thomas to one side for a private word. I think that maybe he gave Thomas a special commission that only Thomas could carry out. Perhaps Jesus sent Thomas to be a special messenger and witness to all those then living and still to come, for whom believing that Jesus really has risen from the dead is just too big a step of faith to make.
Through Thomas Jesus wants to reassure everyone that any barrier to faith can be overcome to bring life in his name in all its fullness.
We still call him the doubter or “doubting Thomas” – a name given to him because of just one week in his life when he struggled with his faith – one week which has lasted for two thousand years. Are you a doubter?
Continued next week to find your resurrection!