Thursday 16 April 2020

Now More Than Ever

Every year, we hear the same story on the second Sunday of Easter.

Every year, the same story. Not even different versions of it, because it only appears in one gospel: John.

Every year, we hear the story of Thomas, the one who wasn’t there when Jesus first appeared alive after the crucifixion. And when all the other disciples tell him they’ve seen Jesus, he refuses to believe. And then, the next time Jesus appears, he’s there to see for himself. It’s the origin of the expression “Doubting Thomas” to refer to someone who, well, doubts.

Every year, I try to say that I think that’s unfair because I don’t think Thomas doubts what’s truly important. I think he already knows that, though he sees that Jesus is physically dead, he’s very much alive in the hearts and minds of those who love and live as he taught. That’s why he’s not there. No, it doesn’t say that in the story: the gospel writer doesn’t give any reason why he’s not there. But, in my heart, I know that Thomas is the most certain of all the disciples and I think he wasn’t there because he’s out sharing Jesus with everyone he can. He’s not afraid. Nor is he afraid to question the other disciples on what they have seen.

Every year, I say that the real gift of this story is that Thomas believed that Jesus was alive in himself. He already believed without being able to see what the disciples did. And when Jesus says “blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed” (John 20:29), I think Jesus doesn’t mean to criticize Thomas’s doubt, but to honour his belief and the belief of all who will come after, even you and me.

Every year, I say that questions affirm and inspire our faith, doubt is essential so that we ask those questions and it’s not the certainty of finding answers, but the journey with the questions that’s important.

Every year, I try to find new and different ways to say that. Every year.

This year’s different.

Perhaps there’s no need to find a new way to say it. The world’s different. Our view is different. Maybe, in this instance, we don’t need something new.

Maybe we just need to be reminded that questions are okay. That doubt’s okay. Maybe now is when we most need to remember that true faith embraces questions and doesn’t look for certainty, but rather company. When we share our doubts and questions, we might find others on a similar journey willing to share their own doubts and questions. And thoughts. Not to tell us what or how to think, but to help us find some fulfillment or, at least, contentment for ourselves.

Maybe right now is when we need to remember that true faith isn’t about finding answers, it’s about finding hope.

Sunday 12 April 2020

The Hope of Easter

There’s a pretty great joke going around right now. I’m not sure who started it, but it goes something like this. No wonder some world leaders are thinking that the virus will be over and done by Easter and we’ll all be out living our normal lives. Seems appropriate, after all: Jesus didn’t stay inside.

Haha. Hmm.

Okay, that’s cute and we could sure use a little humour, right? Except. Let’s be clear.

The hope of Easter isn’t that you get to go outside. It’s that you go and live. And not just live, but live new, not just one day, but every day. It’s the hope that comes with the dawn. Not just because there’s light, but because there’s a new day. It’s the hope that comes with spring. Not just because it’s warmer and there’s flowers, but because there’s new life. Everywhere.

The hope of Easter isn’t only that you have new life outside, but new life everywhere, inside and out. Inside and out of your home and you. It’s the hope that comes with creation. Not just because you’re part of something bigger, but because you’re part of the creating, making creation an expression of you. It’s the hope that comes with sharing yourself with others. Not just because you have company, but because you have community.

The hope of Easter is that Jesus is alive. Everything that is Jesus - love, kindness, grace, compassion, care, justice and peace and all that is good - lives in you and around you. So take what you’ve learned and share it, whether you can leave your house yet or not. Bring love to moments of hate. Bring understanding to moments of struggle. Bring kindness to moments of need and grace to moments of hurt. Bring compassion to brokenness and comfort to grief. Bring justice with respect for every person and part of creation. Bring curiosity and engagement to opportunities to learn and bring nurture to opportunities to grow.

Maybe this is a moment to see that the Easter story is happening in the world right now. As we struggle to see it, new life is waiting to happen. Try new ways to engage the world and when you do, bring trust that in the heart of all living things is the image of a God who loves and brings new life.