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Tuesday, April 05, 2016

Do You Doubt like Thomas?

I think of these post-Easter, pre-Ascension stories as second chance stories (or tenth or thirtieth or forty-seventh chances, depending on how you're counting). Notice that Jesus appears to them and offers peace. He doesn't show up to castigate the disciples for how they behaved badly during his hours of need. He doesn't say to Peter, "See, I told you that you would betray me." He doesn't say, "You big bunch of cowards, running away from the Romans." He breathes on them to give them the Holy Spirit (and if you read the Bible from the beginning, you'll be noticing a theme here; God breathes creation into existence, and much of the power of God is described throughout Scripture in terms of breath and/or wind).

Jesus offers forgiveness and peace again and again. Thomas has come under fire through the centuries for his doubt--but really, who can blame him? Even some of our more prominent theologians today (like Marcus Borg) seem to doubt the physical resurrection of Jesus. Our rational brains just can't wrap themselves around a mystery of this magnitude.

Thomas, too, gets second chances. Just because he wasn't in the locked room when Jesus appeared, that doesn't mean he's doomed to doubt forever. He gets to touch the wounds of Jesus.

Notice how physical these descriptions are: Jesus breathes on them, and death hasn't healed his mortal wounds. He's recognizable. And he seems to carry on with his life's work, at least for a little bit more time: the last verses of today's Gospel refer to many more signs, but the writer John won't burden us with them all. We get a select few to help us believe.

And then Jesus is gone. But we've been left with a mission. We're to spread the good news. We are not to remain in our locked rooms, keeping company only with each other as we eat the last of the bunny cake. We're to go out and be the light of the world. We are entrusted with the mission of helping to create the Kingdom where peace reigns, where death doesn't have the last word, where everyone has enough to keep their bodies alive and their souls fed.
Today at Trinity we celebrate the confirmation of our youth.  What a wonderful time for us to evaluate our own faith journeys.  If we've gotten off track, God offers a second chance--and more chances if we need them.  If we're spiritually depleted, we can be renewed.  If we have doubts, that's O.K.  Christ will show us what we need.

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