2nd Sunday of Easter, RCL,Year C
Homily, Church of the Saviour, Clermont, IA
Today is one of my favorite Gospel readings. I am Thomas. I want to see, to know, to have that surety that comes from an absolute. I am Peter. Blustery, full of speaking without thinking. I am Martha, hustling and bustling and not stopping. And Jesus loved them all, imperfections, weaknesses. But most of all, I am Thomas, wanting to know in the same way that 2 + 2 = 4.
But God doesn't work that way. KNOWLEDGE is replaced with TRUST in God's World. It's the fundamental difference between the world of science and the realm of religious thought. Throughout the readings today, I hear the Spirit playing on a theme. And that theme is Signs of God's Presence. So the question becomes for each priest or pastor: "What Signs does the congregation need today?" The Spirit will help us find them.
For all of us see signs, portents, or whatever we call them. Like the ancient viziers, we try to interpret the world and make sense of it. They can be signs of fear (like watching North Korea and wondering what the leader is thinking, or if he needs a Snickers bar to calm him down). They can be signs of hope (like blooming crocuses). They can be signs of faith (like miracles, or small moments when we sense God is near). And because events are a wondrous mix of science and religious thought, we interpret a mix of logic and feeling.
We sometimes don't like the signs we see, and we ask ourselves if our judgment is sound. Often, that is so we can work out what to do next. The apostles did not like the signs they read as the temple police cornered them, but they made a decision to continue their ministry. Signs are all around.
What signs should we follow and what should we ignore? As human beings, we want positive, helpful signs, and sometimes that isn't life. We can't just ignore what we dislike. Signs take pondering. They take time to process. In that way, I think we are all like Thomas, if we are wise. Sometimes jumping at the first sign is not the best policy.
Depending on your personality, we are predisposed to see the world through a positive or a negative lens. Maybe the doubting part comes in the fact that we are so busy acting, doing, living-- that we don't take time to think of the fact that all days have some beauty.
Thomas said what many of us think...who is this Jesus to rise from the dead, and why are these reasonable people believing it? Maybe the entire Gospels would be lest believable to me if there hadn't been some of this doubt infused inward. Because we who believe Jesus is the Messiah are not expecting a fairy tale. Even for nonbelievers, a wrapped up, non-contradictory, happily-ever-after would have been less believable than this human, conflicted collection of eyewitness accounts.
Here's the thing. Our beliefs tell us God is everywhere. That not only does God love us, but that we are actually likable. That's a free gift. I think we are more afraid of a the strings attached to a free lunch, and so we are perhaps...cautious and afraid. It's easier to feed on our wounded selves. There is a lot of beauty, but maybe our past experiences with following bad signs make us calloused and too scared to see the Resurrection that is in store for us.
I find on good days, I have an easier time to be content and feel happy, but then there are those days that make all of that a lot harder. Sometimes the gift of a friend is the only sign you see and I need to receive their wisdom. Ponder that the next time you feel down or ill. Prayer and reflection, talking to friends (like you) in my Community makes those days pass as well. There is give and take with you, with God, with friends. When there is only taking, that's not a real relationship at all. God is strong enough to understand you when you are sad, angry, and hurt and to let you express that. God also can be that Tiny Whisper in our Soul, that moment of joy when all is dreary and dark. Church, then, is called to provide those moments of insight and help to all who reach out in sorry or despair.
Some people also notice signs, and then run away and go into denial. Thomas did that, but was called back by Jesus. He was given encouragement, not driven away from the Apostles. We can see signs, act on signs, or ignore signs. What signs have you seen this week that will help us grow here at Church of the Saviour?
How can we make the Love of Christ more accessible to those at Clermont, Elgin, West Union, and all the other places we travel this week? Perhaps, in giving us free will, we were also given permission to look for the Sign of Christ. Because God gives us choice, S/He trusts us to become Signs of Hope ourselves. Amen.