We live in a time when we are bombarded with information. With that comes the competition of who might yell the loudest for our attention. Coupled with that is a demand for our attention, which may be the most recent piece of information. Often the first casualty of an event is the headline that gets written by the next news cycle. Translation: if it is not in front of us right now, it is not happening or perhaps never happened.
Here then is the headline that cannot nor should not be forgotten.
He is Risen.
Easter is not yet over for the year. We are only one week into the season which will run out over the next weeks. The lectionary assignments continue the Easter story and the life of the people of Jesus and early church as they encounter this new understanding of Jesus.
The Gospel of John in chapter 20: 19-31 tells of several of these experiences. It is a mix of mystery and the disciples’ very real experiences. The mystery of this is told twice within a few verses, “the doors were locked”. The first mention of the doors was chalked up to fear of the Jews. A very real concern, I’m sure. The second also speaks of the being doors locked (no reason this time) when Jesus came among them for a second time. The fact that this is mentioned twice certainly speaks to their observation of the unexplainable. Jesus appeared to them when the obvious rules of locked doors were violated.
This is a curious mix of both Jesus’ non-physical powers and the very tangible, “Here, see my hands”.
Here we again get to beat up Thomas, as he has more recently been assigned the title “doubting”. I have long struggled with this moniker, as he is no more doubting than we are. He got called out on it while we are more able to hide in his shadow.
Coupled with the mystery of Jesus’ appearance is the absence of Thomas in the first event. The second encounter does include Thomas. It was only after Jesus showed him the tangibles of his wounds did Thomas recognize his Lord.
It is easy for us now to be a bit short with Thomas and his disbelief. We lose sight of the reality of death in those days. Living under the oppression of the Romans made death a day-to-day occurrence, thus the permanence of death was a reality with seemingly no exceptions.
This portion of John’s Gospel story is rather more like the other Gospel stories where the writers were attempting to convince the reader that this Jesus was, in fact, the Messiah, the right guy. Much of John is a theological treatise, but this text is more closely aligned to the synoptic style of Mark, Matthew, and Luke.
Then Jesus praises those who believe without having seen. That would be us.
The psalm for this week is one of the few weeks when we have two options, Psalm 118: 14-29 or Psalm 150. The latter is my second most favorite Psalm (Psalm 100 is my absolute favorite). Psalm 150 is a song of praise from start to finish. Many Psalms have multiple writing styles or message types; often a combination of lament and praise, or reference to covenants and ensuing praise. But 150 is all praise. It is completely suitable for consideration during all the Easter season.
- Praise God in his sanctuary;praise him in his mighty firmament!
- Praise him for his mighty deeds; praise him according to his surpassing greatness!
- Praise him with trumpet sound; praise him with lute and harp!
- Praise him with tambourine and dance; praise him with strings and pipe!
- Praise him with clanging cymbals; praise him with loud clashing cymbals!
- Let everything that breathes praise the Lord! Praise the Lord!
These notions of praise are solid reasons to continue the celebration of life in the Kingdom. Give praise to the Lord, for God has fulfilled yet again the promise to love this creation unconditionally.
Let us never forget to give praise to the author of life.
Let the celebration continue.