Rev. Alex Wilson
April 8, 2018
Rev. Alex Wilson
Vicar

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Reference

John 20: 19-31

The tomb is empty, the eggs have all been found, the bells and bonnets are put away for another year, the Easter dinners have been served, our brunch at Dunbar apartments was wonderful and the Vicar has emerged from his post Easter cave ready to live into this season called Easter. Our Lenten wait is over and the beauty of creation is all around us, festooning our altar with God's creative beauty. But now what? As the flowers begin to die, and the paschal candle melts away, what are we supposed to do with this season of Joy. I believe we are called to live like Thomas.

Our gospel from John this morning highlights the theme which permeates all of John- you and I together, we are deeply involved in a relationship Jesus. We saw just last week what relationship looks like, in Mary's encounter with Christ at the tomb. This moment, which is the Icon in our prayer station over Easter, captures the moment we are called into further relationship with the risen Christ. John specifically focus’ on this necessary attribute of the Christian life, because in John we are shown just how much we need each other in order to make this thing called life work. Unlike Matthew, Mark and Luke, who are focused on the fulfillment of the laws in the actions of Jesus, John draws us into a deeper community by expressing for us how our humanity fits into Christ’s divinity. John bridges the gulf between heaven and earth in a relationship which changes the world we live in because of the way we end up living our relationship with that world.

At the tomb, Mary just wants to be close again to Jesus, and the week after Easter we hear of the doubting Thomas, who for a long time has been our proof that the questions we have about faith are ok. And while they are always ok, and indeed questioning your faith is a requirement to membership around here, Thomas is so much more than just owning our own personal doubt. See, Thomas is in the circle of friends that were around Jesus and has heard directly what it was Mary saw at the tomb. He felt the same desolation at the loss of his good friend, and just wants to feel as great and happy as Mary does. Her exuberance is heart wrenching for Thomas as he’s trying to come to terms with what it is he just saw happen, knowing that all he wants is to feel close again to Christ. So it makes sense that Thomas says to Jesus, I want to touch, feel, be close with you again. Thomas never doubts the resurrection. As some commentators suggest, he's not asking for proof, he's just asking to know that he is ok and that it's still possible to be in relationship with Jesus. Not only does Jesus let him touch his side, but Jesus says to all of us- look, touch, see, nothing has changed. We are still in this together. Come, believe and live!

Wanting proof makes a lot of sense, especially since this whole Easter thing is kinda a lot to explain to people. The idea of rationalizing what we believe in is a very human trait- it is how our minds make sense of this world. From our earliest formation as kids, we are taught to see and make sense of what we encounter through the ways in which our parents raise us. Relationships, therefore, are based on contact. We touch, see, hold, talk, hug, and notice those we are in relationship with. While some of those are sensory things, at their root is a pragmatic mental checklist of things we need to feel in order to understand what this relationship is about. Thomas shares that list in common with is, and is today asking just like us, what am I supposed to do with this situation that makes no sense. And Jesus invites you and I along with Thomas into a new way of living. An Easter Life.

We do not think ourselves into new ways of living, we live ourselves into new ways of thinking. Richard Rohr. What Richard is saying, is at the heart of the Easter message. The experience of Mary and Thomas is not a thinking exercise where we can rationalize these events like a science project. It's a lived, real, messy, crazy, surreal encounter with relationship. Easter, my friends, is not just a single day- it is a way of life that calls us into this crazy community of Christians to find ways to do life together.  It's not just a matter of thinking things are different, but living a difference in our lives. It means struggling with people who drive us crazy, celebrating with strangers, sharing food with new friends and old, trying things differently, letting go of things, and trusting that in it all we are always close to Jesus. When we live into new ways of thinking, because of Easter, we start to see that homeless person as our friend, the patient at the care home as one of us. We start to listen differently to the stories we share with each other, because we see ourselves in that relationship. We start to see the resurrection in our daily lives through the quality of our relationships with each other and with those around us. We start to see and touch Jesus, to know that everything is ok, in the way we talk about our faith to other people. Easter is not just an event to think through, but a life to live, and here are a few of the ways we can continue to live this Easter life together:

  • Join in the work of the Neighbourhood Ministry. Help pack food with us, join the walking team to deliver the packets, give a Saturday morning at Kits showers to feed folks breakfast. Stop and talk to a homeless person the next time you see them begging for change, introduce yourself and share a conversation. Show them, through your presence, the same relationship Mary and Thomas saw through Christ’s presence. Be with them as equals.
  • Find ways to be together this Easter. Come out for a life group, stay a bit longer at Coffee Hour. Invite someone for coffee in the week, share stories about your families and travels. Show through your presence, the same relationship Mary and Thomas saw through Christ’s presence by being grounded in community this Easter.
  • Practice this relationship of encounter in your grounded participation in the Eucharist. Bring your questions, worries, and challenges to the altar where we receive in the bread and wine food for the next step of our journey. As we come to the Eucharist, receiving in us the relationship that Mary and Thomas were looking for that Easter morn, deep inside us it changes something. It asks something of us, to be something in a world that struggles with authentic relationships. Come seeking your saviour, and be ready to see and live differently. Come and encounter Christ in relationship through the Eucharist.

Our tomb is empty and Easter is here, calling us into a vibrant relationship of connection, purpose, and engagement with the world around us. At the cross and tomb, Christ gives himself to us in that most intimate relationship of personally calling you and I to live into his life together. Christ is calling you and I today to live a belief knowing that our relationship with Christ has not changed, only grown stronger. Come, trust, see, and believe. Christ is alive and is waiting for you and I to join him in this Easter life. How are you going to respond?