Hope is the main impulse of life
The Rev. Michele H. Morgan
April 19th 2020
When it was evening on that day, the first day of the week, and the doors of the house where the disciples had met were locked for fear of the Authorities, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.” After he said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord. Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.” When he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.” 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. Although the doors were shut, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.” Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here and see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it in my side. Do not doubt but believe.” Thomas answered him, “My Lord and my God!” Jesus said to him, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe.” Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book. But these are written so that you may come to believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that through believing you may have life in his name. John 20:19-31
Well here is a gospel for our times. The followers of Jesus were locked up in a room, for fear of the ____________. What are we afraid of? How do we fill out that blank?
Well, I have to admit the original John texts say for fear of the Jews. I admit it; I changed it to fear of the authorities. Really that is who they were afraid of the folks who could hurt them were the Roman Authorities egged on by the religious Authorities.
We see that egging on, that prodding of authorities today as well. We have seen protests in various states of our union telling Government officials to open up the state, to get things back to NORMAL. Their claim is to not let the economy be destroyed. Yet that is a holding on to the old way of being, not being able to see something new.
Jesus in the telling of his life and times defies expectations, he has now shown up and allowed a grieving Thomas, we hear about ‘Doubting Thomas’ and I really like that my friend Kevin calls him ‘Grieving Thomas’.
So Grieving Thomas was not with the other Disciples, Jesus shows up defying their expectations, turning everything upside down. Grieving Thomas was not the men and the women who have been doing what grieving people do, tell stories, talk of their sadness he was not with them and he was off getting things back to normal.
So Thomas missed it, he was not in a place to receive that Peace that Jesus is offering; he was not in a place to feel the breath of Jesus, the giving of the spirit to them. Thomas in his stuck place needed to catch up, and needed to have Jesus come to him in another way.
I too feel stuck; I do not know where this is all going. I leave my house to walk Rosie who as a thug princess does not want to greet anyone so I gladly cross the street. I come here once a week and do my best to avoid Jeff, Marika, Charlie, and David. The longer I stay away from people the more nervous I am to be around them.
My Anxiety is getting heightened all the time. I am grieving the things I used to do, I am not riding my bike right now, I am not walking down the national mall, and I did not go and see the cherry blossoms. I have not gone and written sitting in the warm sun on a restaurant patio.
I know that you are all missing something, I spoke to a friend who swims every morning, they have not been able to do that, I know a friend who plans a whole week of meals by going to the farmers market on Saturday and packing food for the week. I know bakers who cannot get flour, or yeast or eggs. We are all grieving something.
I am also grieving the reality of a world where poor folks, a lot of them people of color, our native siblings, our immigrant siblings, people in dense city apartments in poor neighborhoods are being impacted. It sickened me to see that people radically different then me are the ones who are suffering. Yet that has always been true and we are called to change it, we always have been.
SO the question, is how do you let go of it, let go of the fear, move towards hope. I am giving towards feeding programs, I am being of service to those who are suffering, and I continue to reach out as best I can.
I hover between Hope and Fear all the time. AND, I believe that the story will change. Last week we heard Mary seeing Jesus she moves towards him and Jesus says don’t hug me, don’t touch me. Yet Jesus allows Thomas to touch him Jesus hears what Thomas needs to believe and sacrifices for Thomas. These gospels are a testament to Jesus as he meets people where they are. The Story changed. Jesus always allows something new.
I am looking for something new. For myself, for St. Mark’s. My wife and I are having dinner with our goddaughters, I am talking to people on the phone, I am connecting with old friends I am writing letters again. For St. Mark’s we have people engaging with our community and joining our community who are far away and some who never would brave walking into the doors of a church.
We must continue to engage them. We must continue to come to our core message again and again of bring more light more love and more god into the world.
Hope is the main impulse of life and we have people engaging. We must help them explore their faith, whatever that spark of the divine is; we do that by doing it ourselves.
We are called to look forward to the new, and just because we do not see it right now, do not mean we should look back. Change is not easy ever and we are called to change the world and make it new. The story is changing we see it in Jesus and we need to see it in ourselves.