2nd Sunday of Easter B ~ "We have a God who Keeps on Appearing" Dr. Susan McGurgan


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 often

confused;

afraid;

involved in something so big--

so overwhelming--

that they never really grasped it.

At least,

not at first.


Poor Thomas…

it doesn’t seem to matter

that other disciples

denied Jesus,

or dismissed the women

who first proclaimed the news

of the empty tomb,

or ducked for cover

behind the safety of a locked door.


Poor Thomas…

no matter how many times

he walked beside Jesus,

no matter how sincere,

how trusting,

how deep

his own faith might have been,

He will forever 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.”


His legacy was fixed

by that one

single moment of doubt.


Thomas:

the disciple who didn’t quite get it.

Thomas:

the disciple who was one step behind.

Thomas:

the disciple who demanded to stick his finger

into the wounds of Christ

so that he could believe.


Yet,

most of us,

in one way or another,

including the most devout,

are little like Thomas,

aren’t we?


On those days

when the strongest prescription

no longer dulls the pain--

Those nights when the phone remains silent,

and the fate of a runaway child

gnaws a hole clear through your heart;

Those mornings

when despair sits beside you

blocking the sun and stealing all the warmth—

Those weeks

when you can't put a foot right

no matter how hard you try or how fast you run--

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 whatever hell we are experiencing,

whichever desert we have stumbled into,

He has been here, too.


Doubt has a way of sneaking up on us,

surprising us--

even when we’re surrounded

by the scent of Easter lilies;

even as we read

by the light of the Easter fire.


Doubt can suddenly paralyze us,

even as we bend

to hug a child

or help raise someone from the font.


We can be blindsided--

stunned

to find ourselves juggling

fear and faith;

doubt and discipleship.

Can I ever forgive?

How can I endure?

How do I prove this?

Where is God?


And we are often too anxious,

too alone,

too shocked and afraid

to give these demons a voice.


Afraid

somehow,

that the ugly tapes playing in our head

means that we have lost faith and hope forever.

Afraid

somehow,

that if we cry out,

"Show yourself, God!"

God won’t love us anymore

But doubt

is not the same as disbelief.

Struggling with faith

is not denial of faith.

Fear,

depression,

despair,

grief, pain and confusion

do 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 preacher of the Good News;

challenging his disciples to believe her;

inviting them to move beyond fear,

beyond grief,

beyond doubt,

into hope.

He invited Thomas to,

“Put your finger here,

and see my hands

and bring your hand and put it into my side.”


And all the while,

Jesus was preparing them,

teaching them,

forming them for the future.


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 brings oil

to anoint the sick and wounded.

Be the person who rolls back stones

and unlocks doors for those left standing outside.

Become the person who preaches Good News

even when it is lonely and hard

and others tell you to be silent.

Invite others to walk beside me,

even if...

Even if you struggle with your own doubts and fears.

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 a respirator and blinking lights.


Jesus just keeps on appearing,

in a dusty village

where a child too hungry to cry 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 will just keep on appearing.




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


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