Second Sunday of Easter
Acts 5: 27-32
Revelation 1: 4-8
John 20: 19-31
Something strange is happening.
Something strange is happening. A band of terrified, grieving women and men who spend most of their time behind locked doors in fear, are changing. Their fear is changing into faith. Their terror is changing into courage. Their grief is changing into joy. And soon, no door could keep them in, and no door would be able to keep them,or their message out.
Something strange is happening, and it begins with the resurrection greeting: Peace be with you!
The story wasn’t supposed to unfold this way. Jesus wasn’t supposed to die. The crowd was supposed to acclaim him as king, and together they were supposed to chase the Romans out, and once again God’s people would be free. But Jesus did die. He died cruelly, publically and shamefully. And his band of followers fled in all directions in fear and terror that the same would happen to them. In their grief, terror and fear they went into hiding behind locked doors
And into the midst of their fear and grief and terror came words of peace.
Peace be with you!
Something strange is happening.
It’s hard to imagine the terror this band of disciples felt after the shock and horror of it all. But we all have an inkling of what it was like, for each of us carries deep within us a primal fear: a fear of being found out; a fear of being caught; a fear of being discovered. I know I do. And into that fear, Jesus speaks words of peace. Peace be with you!
Today we watch this encounter between Jesus and Thomas unfold before us and we see fear become faith, terror become courage, grief become joy and soon no locked door will be able to keep him in. And no locked door be able to keep him, or his words of hope, out. And the change all begins with the resurrection greetingPeace be with you!
With those four simple words Jesus shows that death and hate and the grave cannot defeat him. With those four simple words Jesus shows that fear and grief and terror and locked doors cannot keep him out. With those four simple words Jesus shows that the power of God is mightier than the forces of Rome. With those four simple words Jesus shows his disciples that he is risen from the dead. Peace be with you….Put your finger here and see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it in my side. Do not doubt but believe.
It’s not that Thomas didn’t want to believe. It’s not even that he couldn’t believe. It’s not even that he wouldn’t believe. It’s that he didn’t dare believe. Thomas didn’t dare believe because he didn’t want his hopes dashed and his heart broken one more time. But in a word, in a phrase, his hope was restored and his heart healed: Peace be with you….My Lord and my God.
If we all know what it is to live in the fear of being caught, then we also know what it is to live with hopes dashed and hearts broken. We all know those days when we are afraid to believe, not because we don’t want to believe, or can’t believe, or won’t believe, but because we dare not believe. We too are afraid that our hopes will be dashed and our hearts broken one more time and so like Thomas we dare not believe. And into the midst of this fear to believe, stands the Risen Lord speaking words of peace.Peace be with you!
Geoffrey you know this fear as well as any. When you became Superior, the building was literally falling down around us. Men were leaving. No new vocations were coming. We didn’t know what to do, or where to turn. We were trapped in our fear: fear of doing something; fear of doing nothing. And into the midst of that fear you spoke to us the resurrection greeting: Peace be with you! And something strange happened.
Hope was renewed. Fear was turned to faith. Hearts were healed. And today signs of new life abound. During your time as Superior, five men have come … and have stayed. The building stands tall and we have the resources and a plan to maintain it, so that in sixty years another generation of monks won’t be wondering what to do with a falling down building. There is a renewed sense of vision, purpose and life in the community. And people all over the world are being fed by words of hope; words of encouragement; words of love; words of faith, words of God.
Words have power. They have the power to hurt and the power to heal. They have the power to cast down and the power to raise up. They have the power to make new. Geoffrey, thank you for speaking to us your brothers, to us who are gathered here, to us whom you have served, resurrection words. In speaking them to us you have shown us the power of God, who, as Thomas discovered today, has the power to make all things new.
Something strange has happened. Fear has turned to faith. Grief has turned to joy. Terror has turned to courage. Locked doors, meant to keep things out, cannot now keep things in. Something strange has happened because in our midst the Risen Lord speaks to us words of peace.
Peace be with you!the Risen Lord says to each of us. And in those words we know the power of the resurrection and can say with Thomas, My Lord and my God!
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