Easter 2 C ~ "We Have a God who Just Keeps on Appearing" ~ Susan McGurgan

Updated: May 9


Poor Thomas…


It doesn’t seem to matter

that every other disciple

doubted

at one time or another.

It doesn’t seem to matter

that the other disciples

were sometimes confused;

afraid;

involved in something

they didn’t really understand.


It doesn’t seem to matter

that other disciples

denied Jesus,

or dismissed the women who ran from the empty tomb,

or ducked for cover

behind the safety of a locked door.


Poor Thomas…

no matter how many times

he must have walked beside Jesus,

no matter how sincere,

how trusting,

how deep

his own faith might have been,

Thomas will always be remembered

as “Doubting Thomas”;

the disciple

who found it difficult to believe.


“Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hand;

unless I put my hand into his side,

I will not believe.”


Poor Thomas.

His legacy as a disciple

was forever fixed

by that one

single moment in time.


Thomas:

the disciple who didn’t quite get it.

Thomas:

the disciple who was one step behind.

Thomas:

the disciple who needed to stick his finger

into the wounds of Christ

so that he could believe.


Yet,

most of us,

in one way or another,

are little like Thomas,

aren’t we?


On those days

when the strongest prescription

no longer dulls the pain;

During those nights

when the phone remains silent,

and the fate of a lost child

gnaws a hole in your heart;

On those mornings

when despair

sits beside you like an old friend,

blocking out the sun

and stealing all the warmth—

Which one of us doesn’t want

to put our hands on his wounds

or gaze upon his scars—

if only to remind ourselves,

that wherever it is we’re headed,

he has been there, too.


And most of us,

if we’re honest…

sometimes doubt.


Doubt can sneak up on us,

surprising us,

even when we’re surrounded

by the scent of Easter lilies.

It can overtake us,

even when we’ve been standing

in the light of the Easter fire.


Doubt can paralyze us,

even as we bend

to raise someone from the font.


For most of us,

life holds dark moments of loss and pain,

terrifying times when our voices fail and our hearts pound.

Times when we struggle to balance fear and faith;

doubt and discipleship.

Does she love me?

Will he recover?

Can I ever forgive them?

Does God even care?

Who will speak a word of comfort?

Why have I failed?


And we are often too anxious,

too alone,

too startled

to give these words voice.


Afraid

somehow,

that God won’t love us anymore

if we speak our fears aloud.


But doubt

is not the same as disbelief.

Struggling with faith

is never the same as denying faith.

A dark night of the soul

does not rupture our relationship with God.


And Thomas…

blunt,

straightforward,

honest,

wonderful Thomas,

is the disciple

who dared to bring

doubt

into dialogue with faith.


Thomas is the disciple

who was brave enough to say

what we so often feel--


“Show yourself, God!

Let me see you!”


And fortunately,

Thomas was blessed with a God who appears. *


Jesus just kept on appearing,

despite fear

despite sin

despite doubt.


Jesus just kept on appearing,

rolling away stones,

breaking down barriers,

healing wounded hearts,

opening locked doors,

shining a light

into dark and dangerous corners.


Jesus just kept on appearing—

choosing a woman to be his first witness;

challenging his disciples to believe her;

inviting them to move beyond locked doors,

even inviting Thomas to, “Put your finger here,

and see my hands.”


And all the while,

Jesus was preparing them,

teaching them,

forming them for mission.


In a creative act

as profound and life-changing

as God breathing life into Adam,

Jesus breathed new life into his disciples.


Receive the Holy Spirit.

Become a sign for others.

Be the person who rolls back the stone

and unlocks the doors.

Break down the barriers

and stand for me,

even when you struggle with doubt or fear.

And so,

Jesus just keeps on appearing—

on a street in the East End,

where a desperate mother

wages a private war,

determined to keep her child free from drugs.


Jesus just keeps on appearing—

in a lonely room

beside a frightened man

held captive

by plastic tubes and blinking lights.


Jesus just keeps on appearing,

in a dusty village

where a silent child

sits beside an empty bowl.


And when it becomes too hard for us

to walk with that mother,

and hold the man’s hand,

and offer the child a loaf of bread,

well…

fortunately for us,

like Thomas,

we are blessed with a God

who just keeps on appearing.


© Susan Fleming McGurgan


* “Jesus Appears”, Christian Century, March 24, 1999, Rev. Susan R. Andrews, provided the inspiration that “Jesus just keeps on appearing.”

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