April 19, 2020 Second Sunday in Easter
. . . from today’s Gospel reading (John 20: 19-31)
But Thomas (who was called the Twin), one of the twelve, was not with them when Jesus came. So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord.” But he said to them, “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.”
A week later his disciples were again in the house, and Thomas was with them. . .
Jesus appeared to the disciples in the evening of the first Easter, and – seeing him – they were convinced that he really had risen from the dead. Our excerpt picks up the story when Thomas comes back, having missed the appearance by Jesus. He doesn’t believe them. He really doesn’t believe them.
We know the next step. The very next week, Jesus came back again, and this time, Thomas was there. He saw Jesus, stuck his hand in Jesus’ side (euwww), and believed. The story goes on from there, and you can go read Jesus’ reaction.
But what’s more interesting today isn’t Jesus’ reaction. It’s the reaction of the disciples. (Now, I’d never noticed this until today, when I was listening to the Right Rev. Susan Brown, of Dornoch Cathedral in Scotland. One of the blessings of our current times is the opportunity to hear sermons from all over the world). Pastor Brown pointed out the disciples’ reaction to Thomas’s doubt. Do you see it? That’s right, they didn’t do anything. They didn’t give him a hard time. They didn’t keep nagging to fake it until he made it. They just loved him the way they always had. So they continued to eat together, pray together, be together.
Think about that. Thomas didn’t have to agree in order to be welcome. Think about it in terms of today. I put the toilet paper on the roller one way, you do it the other. We don’t need to agree in order to continue to be friends. I like tea, you like coffee; we don’t have to agree. All those things that are grabbing at us right now, stuck in our homes way closer to one another than any of us ever planned? Stuck looking at someone who loves Doritos? Or who hates your favorite tv show? Close confinement is challenging. The disciples remind us that we don’t all have to be on the same page at the same time to be in the same family.
In the long run, the disciples have something to say to our wider community. Too often these days, we are divided, and we have turned away from talking across the dividing walls of hostility. Our motto seems to have become a very spiky version of “whoever is not with me, is against me”. But the disciples seemed to be saying, that in the presence of a risen Jesus, they welcomed the other motto, the one that says that “whoever is not against us, is with us.” The tricky thing here, is that Jesus actually said both of these. But each time, he spoke of the work people were doing. He meant that when people were doing good, whether or not they did it in the name of Jesus, they were supporting the work of Jesus. Whenever people did meanness in the name of Jesus, they were actually attacking Jesus.
When the disciples model accepting those with whom we differ, they ask us to look beyond what people say, to model for them not some variety of right belief, but a strong variety of love in action, right action. Thomas was a disciple because he loved rightly, whether or not he shared, at first, the disciples’ experience of meeting the risen Christ.
Easter blessings to you all,
As you know, our Thrift Shop is closed, and we are losing that income. If you could send in additional money this month, we’d really appreciate it. All our staff is still on the payroll, we still have utility bills. Your gifts make it possible for us to continue. Checks may be mailed to the church at 5 Gibbs Avenue, Wareham MA 02571.
NEED SHOPPING HELP? Nancy MacNeill reports that her two granddaughters are offering to do shopping for anyone who can’t get out. Just contact Nancy at 508-280-3716 or <firstname.lastname@example.org
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- from Susan Ryan: Lori Benson reports that Tim has tested positive for the COVID-19 virus, but is asymptomatic. Please keep Tim and Lori in your prayers.
- from Oonagh Brault: Please add my friend Lindsay to the prayer list. She has just been diagnosed with COVID-19.
- from Oonagh Brault: my sister-in-law, Kathy, and her father, Jim, to the prayer list. Jim was diagnosed with COVID-19. He is now on hospice care. Kathy is suffering because she cannot be with her father during this trying time.
- from Elaine Johnson: (Elaine reports Janice is better, but still needs our prayers) Please add my sister Janice to the prayer list. She fell and has a small brain bleed and concussion and severed her ear which needed to be stitched back into place. She is home recovering.
- Prayers for all who work in the medical field as they deal with this crisis.
- from Nancy MacNeill, prayers for her cousin Pam Bergeron
- from Lydia Sherman: Please add Carrie Andrews to the prayer list. She’s the cousin to my nephew Christopher’s wife… She currently is on life-support and is only in her 30’s.