Acts 4:32-35, 1 John 1:1-22, John 20: 19-31
May the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be always acceptable in your sight Oh Lord our strength and our redeemer.
The Famous “Doubting Thomas.”
One of my favorite Characters in the Bible.
We read this story every year, during the Easter Season.
At the beginning of the story, Thomas hasn’t seen Jesus yet.
And the news of Jesus’ resurrection seems too good to be true.
And poor Thomas, gets all the heat for this:
Getting the nickname “Doubting Thomas.”
But that’s kind of ridiculous:
Because Thomas isn’t the only one.
We saw just last week:
On Easter Sunday:
That the women ran away from the tomb:
Without even telling the other disciples:
Because they were afraid.
It just seemed too good to be true.
When the women, and Thomas couldn’t SEE the ACTUAL Risen Christ:
When they couldn’t touch Jesus’ PHYSICAL body:
They had difficulty understanding:
Difficulty believing the whole truth:
The awesome, and unreal reality of God.
God’s Reality is so UNREAL to us:
That we crave the physical proof:
Something to see, something to touch, and smell.
With the women and the tomb, and with “doubting Thomas,”
We also want the proof: want something to touch:
So that we can really know.
This is why Thomas is refreshing.
Because we understand this need for proof.
And we have some proof of our own.
Even though the physical Risen Jesus doesn’t open our locked doors and literally speak to us.
But it is no mistake:
That after Jesus is resurrected:
And after he ascends to heaven:
The Church becomes Christ’s PHSYICAL body:
The people of God become the proof.
We become the proof of Jesus’ resurrection.
This is not a merely “spiritual thing”
An adorable, sweet, image for us to hold to:
A REAL physical body of Christ:
It’s who we are.
There’s a part of our highly rational human minds,
And a part of our modern day mindset:
That urges us to separate physical reality, from the “spiritual”
As if the “Spiritual”: The stuff of belief:
The stuff of religion and church:
Aren’t physical realities.
But they are.
Spiritual reality CAN be physical.
It HAS to be physical:
Because God: became a human person:
A Living, human, physical body.
This is why, In today’s Gospel Story:
When the disciples are in the house:
With the doors locked:
Jesus enters, and he BREATHES on them.
He BREATHES on them.
This is REAL.
Breath is REAL:
That it is BREATH that keeps our physical bodies alive.
We feel breath in our souls and our bodies:
And when Jesus: Breathes his breath into us:
It transforms both our SOULS and our BODIES.
Jesus’ Physical breath:
Makes us the physical body of Christ.
A body shared:
A body transformed:
A physical body broken.
We’re not in it alone.
And it’s not just “spiritual” or “other worldly.”
All of the readings today are about bodies:
Physical bodies that are united as the body of Christ:
Physical bodies that share in the responsibility:
Of being community:
Of being the body:
And of reminding each other of the Good News of God in Christ:
The Good News of the resurrection.
The collect for the day speaks of being reborn in the fellowship of Christ’s body.
The first lesson talks about how members of this new physical body:
Are of one heart and one soul:
Giving testimony to the resurrection.
The Psalm today:
Says “Oh, how good and pleasant it is: when brethren live together in unity.”
The Second lesson proclaims that these things were written so that “our joy may be complete”
So that the body may share with one another:
Tell one another:
And remind one another of the joy:
when we have a Thomas moment of doubt:
Or a fearful moment at the tomb:
We are the physical body:
Holding each other up.
And in the Gospel reading itself:
John states that “These things are written: so that you may come to believe.”
He shares the Good News with the Body:
The physical body of Christ.
And every Sunday, we gather together:
In fellowship with one another:
As the body of Christ:
To read, hear, and share the good News:
And to break the bread.
The bread and the wine: Like Jesus’ breath:
Are not merely spiritual.
They’re real and physical.
We can see the bread and the wine:
We can feel it, and touch it:
We can smell it and taste it.
It’s as real as real can be.
And it too, is Christ’s body Transformed:
Which in turn transforms us into the physical body of Christ.
This body of the Church: is filled with Joy:
And it’s also wounded:
As wounded and broken as Christ’s own body.
Yet This is what it means to be Church.
This is what it means to be the physical body of Christ in this world:
Where we can bring our joy:
And also our wounds.
We can bring our doubts like Thomas.
And our fears like the women at the tomb.
We may still have our scars with us:
Just as Christ bore the scars of the cross:
The scars and wounds that Thomas longed to touch.
But as the physical body of Christ:
Together in communion:
Those scars are transformed, no longer causing pain:
Bringing us closer to one another:
In a real physical body: united to each other.
Like Doubting Thomas,
Like the fearful women at the tomb:
And like Christ himself:
Our own wounds are real and physical,
Yet together, we need not be ashamed to show them:
Just as Christ himself bore them.
This physical body of Christ:
In which we are a part:
allows us to show our wounds,
And receive the ministry of Christ:
Coming among us,
Breathing upon us:
And sending us out of the assembly to live and share:
As the physical body of Christ in the world.
The Good News of the resurrection:
And of the incarnation of Christ in the first place:
Is that Jesus has been like us.
He knows both the beauties and the limitations of our human senses.
Notice: that Jesus already knew that Thomas was skeptical.
Jesus speaks to Thomas first:
Knowing that Thomas had that human need to physically touch him:
In order to know that he was indeed raised from the dead.
And Jesus knows:
That we need each other.
Not just in the “spiritual” sense:
But also in a very physical sense:
So that together: We might also believe.
To be Christ to one another:
To remind one another,
Share with one another:
Reveal our wounds to one another:
And be the body in the world.
Easter reminds us that Jesus’ broken body is indeed transformed.
And transformed physically.
Transformed into our very selves:
Our very souls, and our very bodies.
Hardly perfect: with its wounded scars:
Yet literally carrying the physical breath of peace.
Fr. Jim is providing his sermons online during the Corona virus pandemic. Enjoy!