Scriptures Acts 4: 32-35 & John 20: 19-31
Alleluia, he is risen…. Now how do we live that out?
The euphoria is over, the day to day living it out has begun! This happens in so many areas of life, perhaps you remember a significant birthday, the birth of a long awaited child, a wedding, a brave step you may have taken in defining your life, who you are going to be from now on!
There may have been great celebrations, cards and gifts, a party, there may have simply been a great relief that your choice has been declared and your stand taken…. But now you live out your life in the reality of this…
People become parents, committed partners, new-selves, older! My lovely friend Sharmie is now 104, on her 90th birthday she went for a ride on a Harley Davidson, but the reality of being 90 was not what she would have described to be fun, by 100, and celebrating another birthday she had had enough of her body, though her mind was as sharp as ever! There is a lot more to living out being 90 and 100 than celebrating it! There is a lot more to being parents and partners too, a lot more to life than our initial stands and celebrations.
So last week, after the long walk through Lent we came and celebrated, as we celebrate every year with cries of Alleluia! He is risen, alleluia, he is risen!
He is risen indeed! Just say that quietly to yourself now, and take a moment to ponder what that means. What does it mean to you today in your life, in your joys and in your struggles. He is risen, what does that mean to you right now?
Last week we went to the tomb with the women, spices prepared ready to anoint his body, then with Peter and John, running in confusion, and we were there as they struggled through tears and pain to believe, feeling Mary’s joy as her name was spoken by her risen Lord, the one she had mistaken for the gardener. There as the realisation of the impossible becoming possible dawned upon them and joy broke through the gloom. Alleluia, he is risen!
Today our story continues, and we encounter the doubter, Thomas cannot believe what he has not seen, he is a sceptic, the euphoria that has overtaken the others has not overtaken him, he needs more, something tangible, something concrete, proof:
So when we read that Thomas refuses to believe in resurrection based on mere hearsay — when we hear again his demand for physical proof, we are of two minds, I think. Our proper, church-going, religious selves wag a knowing finger at Thomas. “Shame on you! And you call yourself an apostle!” But another part of us thrills at the words of our champion: “Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands, and put my finger in the mark of the nails and my hand in his side, I will not believe” (John 20:25). Yes! Yes, and why not? If it’s true — and we’re not saying it’s not true — but if it is true, why can’t we have proof? We want to see. We want to touch. We want to be there.
We want to be there, we need more than a celebration we need to touch, to taste and see, to feel… yet when Thomas got his chance he did not need to take it, being in the presence of the risen Christ was enough for him, and his simple yet deep response catches our breath if we whisper it; “My Lord and my God!”
Yet we are not generally given the privilege of seeing ( though there have been records since) the risen Christ, we are simply given the blessing, blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe! Alleluia, he is risen! Where is our blessing then?
Perhaps God has given us the chance to be blessed according to the last of the beatitudes. “Blessed are the poor,” said Jesus, and yet many of the least well off among us are wealthy by any realistic historical or global standard. “Blessed are you who hunger,” and while feeding the hungry is a large part of what we do in this place, we do have food to give. “Blessed are the meek,” and yet in our complex society we can scarcely avoid pride at all that we have achieved. No, this last beatitude may be our best shot at the designation “blessed of God.” Blessed are they who can’t be absolutely sure. Blessed are they who believe the hearsay. Blessed are the eyes of faith that continue in hope despite the frustrations and ambiguities. “Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe”.
Blessed are those who have not seen, who have not touched who have not perhaps experienced and yet have come to believe! Hear Christ’s word to you today, you are not less or least, you are blessed, in a world that demands proof and runs on feelings you have allowed yourselves to be stretched beyond that into faith, a faith that calls you beyond yourself to participate in the largeness of God, beyond yourself into a spacious place where you find yourself connected to the beginning and end of time, part of God’s plan for the recreation of all that is marred and broken, salt and light in the world that needs God flavours and colours.
Living our life in the light of the risen Christ, of the fullness of a God reality rather than as a child of our time and culture demands that we embrace a larger life, a Christ centred, Christ filled Spirit empowered life. A life that changes our priorities and perspectives and that demands a day by day moment by moment laying down of our smaller selves because we are in truth connected and somehow in tune with more. This will affect how we live in every aspect, what we share, who we are, what was it that compelled those early disciples and new followers to share everything in common, to ensure that the needs of all were met? Christ’s love, Christ’s largeness, the choice to live a Christ filled life!
Now what we buy, what we give, how we live, and dare I say how we will vote in the coming election is about more than our wants and desires! In the words of the Joint Public Issues team challenge; “ Love your neighbour, think, pray, vote!”
Now you can place your hand into the hand of Thomas the doubter and walk with him through your own doubts and fears to a place where you dare to believe not only that he is risen but that this makes a difference, in your life and in the life of the world, to a place where you are able like Thomas to give your life to his life and speak out for justice, love the unlovable, see good in the ugly and broken parts even in yourself.
Alleluia, He is risen! Lord I believe, help me in my unbelief!