The family is gone, the food is all eaten. The flowers are wilting, the chocolate has been found, counted, and eaten. The weeks and weeks of planning, prep, rehearsing, worrying, thinking, praying, recruiting, trusting, wondering, checking, is all finished. Easter has happened, it's all over. Alleluia! So we can all rest assured and go home! Yet, here we are again, gathered in the reflection of this new easter candle- the symbol of Christ’s resurrection in our lives, to hear again the news of the tomb, in what the church tells us is the doubt of thomas. What one calls doubt, I hear as witness. The witness to the humanity of the resurrection.
I find it super interesting that we hear Thomas’ story from John's Gospel this morning as one of doubt. Many paintings have been made, icons written, stories told, about this disciple who doubts, named thomas, who wont believe its Jesus until he puts his finger in the wounds. Don't get me wrong, I believe doubt is an integral part of faith because it leaves room for the Spirit to move and do her work, however Thomas is more than just doubt for me. He's about witnessing to the incredible confusion and humanity that Easter is, a moment that begs us to sit and experience it a bit longer. Indeed, there is a reason we have the 50 days of Easter, to sit and experience it a bit longer. We are programed as humans to think and work towards the next thing. Work up to a deadline, complete the project, and move onto the next deadline. What's the next christian ed program, spirituality group. When's the next concert, or social event. Pentecost is coming. Then the BBQ, then its Labour Day. I wonder if the altar guild remembered to order the poinsettias, O come O come Emmanuel….. You see, it's easy to slip into the next moment before we have fully lived the present, and the present is literally a mind numbing life alerting statement- Jesus is Risen.
Thomas in this moment is not doubting Christ’s resurrection, rather he's coming to terms with just how much he wants to be with, eat, hug, talk, hold, the person who he loves more than anyone- a person now standing before him, even though he just saw him buried. Nothing after Easter can ever be the same, we know that this happened to fulfill the laws, but there is still terror around us as Rome is reacting badly to how this all went down. Crucifiction should have stopped us, and yet its become our greatest witness. Jesus is Risen! He's right in front of us- what?
We hear again this morning about how the purpose of John is that through this Gospel, through this text, we may encounter Christ and have the freedom which he promises us- which is why we have Thomas the week after the tomb. We read John over Holy week and Easter because for John the incarnation- the humanity of God in Christ is paramount to relationship. This is not a theory, this is life. Thomas and Christ, Mary and Peter, the Centurion and Pilate, were real people. They are witnesses to this incredible moment, just like you and I- yet we only revist Thomas today because of the relationship he calls us into- a relationship which witnesses to the real presence of Christ in our life.
For 66 years, we have been witnesses to this relationship in Christ here in this place. In good times and in bad, we have seen people come and go- and the thing which has kept us going this whole time is relationships. This is the witness of Thomas to us, and in our lives we have all experienced a Thomas, that person who invites us to stop and stay awhile. Thomas may been a different person for us, maybe it was the greeter who said hello the first time you came, or that person who invited you to coffee. Maybe it was me at the door, or the host at dinner shortly after you arrived. Maybe it was your friend who invited you to come and see this place.. There was someone here who like Thomas, gave you a reason to pause and get involved here. And you see, that's whole point of Easter- pausing and building relationships. Last week, when I gave the kids easter eggs with icons of saints, these are depictions for them of ancient thomas’s- people for us and them to learn more about as we grow to know more about Jesus in their own lives. Each and everyone one of us here has an icon inside of us, a story, a window, into God, a reason that we paused and built relationships here in this place just as 66 years of pilgrims has done before us. Our lives are the eggs which holds the sweetness of Christ’s resurrection in its heart, full of stories and experiences of Jesus who is Risen among us. As we look into the next 66 years of life in this place, we are invited, through the witness of Thomas, to share our stories- our icons of Christ, with each other and the world.
Witness to the ressurection my friends with the story of your life, it’s in your blood, breath, and body. Crack open new life within you this Easter and help us to see Jesus more clearly, help us go into the world to make disciples of all people. Alleluia!