What have you noticed in the past few days that seems to have COME ALIVE?
· The grass or budding trees in your yard and neighborhood?
· You have attended an outdoor sporting event or a concert?
· Maybe you went outside in the warming spring air and spent time with family or friends for the first time in what seems like, forever.
In the past year collectively, I think it is fair to say we have longed for, ached for, grumbled at, or maybe survived a year of being inside and feeling a little less than, well, alive.
Recently, I experienced joy when I got my two vaccine shots! The vaccine clinic is like one big cheering section! They get it! This is hope. This is recovery. This is coming ALIVE.
But I want the fullness of the story, for it indeed gives me hope! I want to feel safe to share there have been times when I, maybe we, have been afraid, ill, worried, hurting, and missing our freedom, our family, and friends. We may have even asked, “God, where are you?”
In the Gospel of John 20:19-31, we hear the story of the disciples, the followers of Jesus in the very early church. On the evening of the Third Day, the Day we call Easter, they weren’t shouting for joy; they were afraid and locked in a room behind closed doors. Even after Mary runs to tell them that Jesus isn’t in the tomb and that Jesus has appeared to her and tells her “Don’t be afraid,“ they are terrified.
Then Jesus appears to them. They don’t ask anything of Jesus, and yet he knows what is most likely on their mind. Jesus shows them his hands and side. He says, “Peace be with you.”
We continue with this reading and the story of “Doubting Thomas.” Many of us were taught in Sunday School that the point of the story is simply, we shouldn’t be like Thomas we should believe in Jesus without having to “see Jesus” with our own eyes. I’m wondering what would happen if, instead of prohibiting questions, we experience the fullness of the story? What if we could allow ourselves to wonder, to think of our own journey of faith, and pause and remind ourselves and one another that it is a journey that goes on and on? How would our lives be if we opened up and shared that somedays we are hurting, fearful, and simply not feeling, well, not o.k? What if we believed this to be true: that our God, without skipping a beat, says, “Peace be with you?” In our passage, we hear that God loves us so much that God, once again, breathed into the disciples then and into us today.
I’m wondering, what if instead of titling this passage in scripture, “Doubting Thomas” it is titled, “Thomas is loved. Thomas is safe to ask questions. Thomas’ faith grows. Thomas’ heart is transformed, forever.” What if this chapter is about your own journey and it titled, “God has faith in you” or simply, “You are so loved by the God who made you, loved you first, and loves you forever?” How would that message fill your heart, so that you too, come alive?!
God’s embrace, mercy, and compassion are our sanctuary. We are beloved by God. We are made new each and every day. Our hearts are transformed. Oh, how lovely is it to “come alive!”
Blessings to you always,