Sunday, April 15, 2012

Peace be With You

When it was evening on that day, the first day of the week, and the doors of the house where the disciples had met were locked for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said, "Peace be with you." After he said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord. Jesus said to them again, "Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you." When he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, "Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained."

But Thomas (who was called the Twin), one of the twelve, 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."

A week later his disciples were again in the house, and Thomas was with them. Although the doors were shut, Jesus came and stood among them and said, "Peace be with you." Then he said to Thomas, "Put your finger here and see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it in my side. Do not doubt but believe." Thomas answered him, "My Lord and my God!" Jesus said to him, "Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe."

Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book. But these are written so that you may come to believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that through believing you may have life in his name. John 20:19-31

I have had the wonderful privilege of working with some folks who are in the discernment process. We have been talking, reflecting, eating, laughing and praying together. They have all offered themselves for ministry and are starting the preparation and the study to be ordained. God has called them and they are people of great faith. And as Native people, it is sometimes confusing and even discouraging to enter the process as we have it set up now. The hoops and hurdles are overwhelming and one can lose hope or at least get frustrated by never seeming to get to the end or treated like other clergy in the wider church.

Thomas had been out on an errand when Jesus first visited the frightened disciples gathered behind locked doors. Jesus offered them peace, and the assurance that he was with them. They recognized Jesus at first because of his nailed hands and wounded side. We look down on Thomas, calling him doubting, but in fact he simply didn't have the same opportunity as others. They were confident because of seeing Jesus and being given his blessing. Thomas had not had that privilege so Jesus offered him the same. Thomas was blessed too and his faith was confirmed then also. Some of us have missed or been excluded from faith building and life changing events because of circumstances, our families, our traditions or real life obligations. And Jesus recognizes those losses and exclusions and promises to come and bring us peace and blessing also, even if we were locked out or felt left out at some time.

Today, I ask God to give me the strength and humility to honor the faith and leadership I see today. Help me to encourage the frightened, lend a hand to the weak, share laughter with the anxious, and learn from the faith and peace, the wise ones among us today. May we see Jesus together this day, and know the blessing of him who suffered for us and who gives us the power and wisdom to love others. May we all, whether locked out or among the privileged, offer ourselves so that Jesus might be seen among us every day and the weak strengthened by God's love and blessing.

The Collect

Almighty and everlasting God, who in the Paschal mystery established the new covenant of reconciliation: Grant that all who have been reborn into the fellowship of Christ's Body may show forth in their lives what they profess by their faith; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

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