Resurrection: Creating Community, Creating Faith, Creating Community
Thomas…was not with them when Jesus came. So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord.” But he said to them, “Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands, and put my finger in the mark of the nails and my hand in his side, I will not believe.” —John 20:24-25
All of the lectionary readings this week speak of faith being lived out in community. Our relationship with Christ cannot be separated from our relationship with each other. So when we consider what it means to experience Easter as individuals we also must explore what the Resurrection means for our lives together.
In the gospel lesson, Jesus brings peace to the chaos that the huddling-with-fear disciples are experiencing post resurrection. He literally breathes on them to give them life in the Spirit (see John 6:63) and in that moment—for these followers—life and connection and faith truly begin again. But Thomas has missed out on that transformative moment and for reasons we may never know, he does not “believe” the testimony of his companions. Jesus does not scold or condemn him for this. Jesus understands and honors that we all come to faith differently, carry our own perspective on it and sometimes even a whole lot of baggage about it. The reason that Thomas does not yet believe does not matter. Jesus just makes sure that Thomas is included in the life-in-the-Spirit-community by providing the ‘breath’ that Thomas needed in order to believe. And, my beloved, if we remain open to it, we will discover that Jesus does the very same for us. “Knock and the door will be opened…”
While we are all of one community, just as the disciples were all together in this text, we all experience God and respond to the invitation of Jesus in our own unique way. We can never truly understand another’s relationship with God; indeed, we can never fully understand our own experience of God. This story invites us to see Christ with ever-open hands willing to welcome all, regardless of their questions or fears. In Christ, in the kind of community to which Jesus calls us, no one is left out, and no one turns up too late! And so, like Christ, we are asked not to judge or condemn or scold the different ways that lead people to faith. Rather we are called to create the beloved community into which they are led.
Face-to-face with Jesus, in the community of faith, Thomas has his own experience of the Resurrection. As a result, he can witness to his faith. Beloved, how would you, at this point in your faith experience speak about the meaning of the Resurrection for you? How would you witness to the ways that Jesus has breathed the Spirit into you. And how might the Congregational Church of West Medford create community and be a witness to the transformative power of Christ in this community and in the world?
With Blessing and prayer for joyful and transformative resurrection—in your life and in our church’s ministry!
Rev. Wendy Miller Olapade