The Many Directions of Reconciliation What it means to become God’s reconciliation in the world.
The Reverend Michele H. Morgan
Easter 2 A
April 10, 2021
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 (Crowds). 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 (adapted)
Faith, Belief, and Preaching are like a CT scan works, it shoots a ton of beams to create a 3D picture. So since I got to St. Marks we have had an Epiphany and an Easter sermon series, it is an attempt to get a fuller picture of an aspect of Faith or Belief or chasing that elusive divine spark in ourselves or each other. This year we are preaching on The Many Directions of Reconciliation What it means to become God’s reconciliation in the world. How do we live into Reconciliation? We will spend the next six weeks exploring all the different ‘wards’ of reconciliation. These wards (that moves, tends, faces, or is directed toward) have many directions: For our relationships, the beams of light are Creator-ward, toward the Creator, Self-ward, Other-ward, Creation-ward. God’s reconciliation also moves us beyond the four principal directions towards the powers and principalities of this world, calling us to become active participants in God’s reconciliation.
In the text for this week, we are in the midst of the loss and confusion of a dead leader and teacher and his followers trying to make sense of what happens next. So Christ appears and wishes them peace, breathes the holy spirit on them, and tells them to forgive. Jesus still teaching wants them to know if they choose to carry the hurt and anger with them it will be retained and it will chew them up. (My interpretation based on the times I have not sought forgiveness and reconciliation.)
Later we have confessing Thomas show up and claim what he needs to believe. He names what beam of light will work for him, he needs to see the wounds, he needs to see Jesus’ hands, feet, and side and says he will have to put his finger in the wound to believe. It is a bold statement that he makes and the next week in a locked room Jesus again comes to the disciples, and says, “Peace be with you.”
Then Jesus turns to Thomas and invites him to do exactly what Thomas has said he needs to believe. Now in the face of a resurrected Christ before him he does not need that proof, he is instantly reconciled by Jesus standing before him. It is amazing to me that in these Easter narratives when Jesus appears, the core of the relationship is what is recognized. The living God shows up in last week’s Gospel and is met with Mary at the tomb calling him teacher and now Thomas is saying, My Lord and My God.
Thomas in that instant is not the doubter, he confesses that Jesus is lord. This profound shift is found in reconciliation. Jesus could well have been angry at Thomas for his disbelief, Jesus could have been sassy or snarky and that is not what he does, he meets Thomas where Thomas is with I believe the desire to reconcile. In that instant, there is a restoration of Jesus and Thomas, and Thomas and the others in the room who Thomas had not believed, was jealous that they might have seen Jesus, who might have all been pranking him, who had an experience that he had not and was on the outside of. Thomas could have held on to it as well and yet, all of that is washed away when Thomas sees Christ and needs nothing else and is willing to admit it.
We all need that kind of shift of perception, that reconciles, that puts us in right relationship and creates restoration in our lives. In 12 step recovery that is what is sought but it can not be instantaneous because, so much of the lie of using prevents it, yet in the big book a medical doctor writes a letter to send out with these alcoholics that ends with, “You may rely absolutely on anything they say about themselves. (The Doctor’s Opinion). Honestly no using addict or alcoholic can be relied on and yet the world changes and as a friend of mine said… ‘We get our integrity back”
So for reconciliation, there is a component of timing, being Thomas and Mary more than Jesus I can say that not much is instantaneous but a slow working of showing up and doing the day to day work of moving toward those I am out of reconciliation with. The other component the other ‘ward’ the other movement towards reconciliation is the rooting out of bad information or a bad piece of the story we tell ourselves.
- The Reverend Dr. Pauli Murrary, brilliant, talented, lawyer, teacher and priest Pauli Murrary had doubts about wether she should be a priest, because should woman really be ordained as priests? As the Reverend Kim Jackson says, ‘bad theology digs in deep.”
We hope to have as many voices as possible, all bringing a different beam of light into the conversation, so this season in addition to Patricia, our adjunct, and Cindy and Joe, our deacons, we will have a guest preacher, The Reverend Mark Jefferson, PhD. So come back and journey with us as we seek to understand how we reconcile with our self, with others, and with God.