Alleluia! Christ is risen!
If you responded with the words, “The Lord is risen indeed, Alleluia!” I bet you wouldn’t have said that if you didn’t believe. Brothers and sisters, you do believe Jesus Christ is risen from the dead, right?
Okay, so where do we go from here?
A week has passed, but the excitement, the joy remains. You want to flip that page in the Gospel of John and find out what those other signs were that Jesus did. You want the story to continue, and it does, in the Book of Acts, the epistles and in the lives of everyone who has heard the Good News and proclaimed it. The greatest story ever told has an epilogue, and we are it.
How is this possible, when you and I weren’t there when the stone was rolled back and Jesus walked out of the tomb?
It’s possible because Jesus said so.
“Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe.”
Certainly good news for us, a slap on the wrist, perhaps for Thomas.
Thomas is one of those less-than-perfect disciples that one can find kinship with, for how many can truly say they’ve never questioned anything we’ve been told or seen, especially when the hour and the day are dark and feel without promise?
Those moments come, and then God puts into play or reveals something that turns one from being faithless to faithful, like the Resurrection. It happened to a group of scared, determined and faithful followers who kept the momentum going, from that morning to this.
I don’t buy into the dictum that you’ve got to see it, to believe it. We can’t see the air, but it is all around us. We see its action – in the movement of Creation when the wind blows, we feel it on our skin. It is there.
God is there. God came to us in the form and blessing of Jesus. So many prophets came before Jesus claiming to be the Christ, the redeemer and savior. They slipped away into obscurity, some suffered ignominious deaths. What made Jesus so different?
He was who he said he was. He did what he said he was going to do. The resurrection of Christ gave new life to the followers of the Jesus movement. What was promised by Jesus in his teaching, was and is being lived out. The apostles, the first followers of Jesus, proclaimed the good news of the Kingdom – what Jesus promised in his teachings and ministry was made true. The followers of Jesus live out the new commandment – that followers love one another as Jesus loved them, and in attending to the needs of one another, what Jesus commanded was made tangible and real.
The apostles became the leaders of the movement and strived to live as they were taught, showing that “The Kingdom of Heaven is like a great family of different people, living together, loving one another and all living in equality.” What Jesus demonstrated in his ministry was kept alive by the faith, belief and right action of the Apostles.
And this is where we come in.
We are now the disciples, called to keep the Good News in play, to keep the Word in our hearts and minds, and to keep it alive. How you and I do this depends on the gifts God has given each one of us, and how the Spirit moves within us.
I’m pretty certain we’re always looking for new ways to proclaim the Gospel – some have been quite successful haven’t they? And some, abysmal failures. What keeps us going is belief. If Jesus can die for our sins, we can return the favor by keeping at it, trying harder. I believe he is with us every step of the way – sometimes we have to open our hearts and minds a bit wider to see him, get past our own wounds so that we can see his. No, we haven’t seen the five wounds of Christ except in artwork and in scripture, but we know they are real. I believe that every time we say ‘peace be with you,’ Christ says it to us.
It’s time for us to write the next chapter of the greatest story ever told. I intend to put my mark on the page this week when I begin my sabbatical and travel to Washington for the interfaith conference hosted by Sojourners – the Mobilization to End Poverty. I’ll gather with three of my diocesan colleagues in ministry and others of like mind to find ways of ending the epidemic of poverty in America. When I return from Washington, I’ll spend some time with the information and tools I receive so that when I return from my sabbatical in September, I can offer new resources and ways that my congregation lives out the new commandment and follows Christ’s dictum that when we feed and clothe and attend to the hungry, the thirsty, the naked, we do the same for Him.
What will you write on the page?