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    • Sunday service - Holy Communion October 2, 2022 at 9:30 am – 11:00 am Grace Church 215 Pleasant Street, Sheldon, VT Website: www.gracechurchsheldon.orgTime:  09:30 AM Eastern Time (US and Canada)        Every week on Sun.Join Zoom Meetinghttps://us02web.zoom.us/j/83929911344?pwd=alZQTWZMN0ZkWFFPS1hmNjNkZkU2UT09Meeting ID: 839 2991 1344Password: Call for detailsOne tap mobile+13126266799,,83929911344#,,1#,816603# US (Chicago)+19294362866,,83929911344#,,1#,816603# US (New York)Dial by your location        +1 312 626 6799 US (Chicago)        +1 929 436 2866 US (New York)Meeting ID:…
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Easter 2, May 1, 2011

Easter 2A RCL May 1, 2011
Acts 2: 14a, 22-32
Psalm 16
I Peter 1: 3-9
John 20: 19-31

We are beginning the Great Fifty Days of Easter. Easter is not just one day, but the entire fifty days until the Feast of Pentecost. All during this time, we will be reading three lessons from the New Testament or Greek Scriptures. This reminds us that we are an Easter people. We are a community of the resurrection living the new life in Christ.

Today’s lessons begin with Peter’s proclamation of the Good News in the Book of Acts. The Book of the Acts of the Apostles gives us a dynamic running account of the first days of the early Church. I often think that it reads like a fast-paced newspaper account of all these exciting and inspiring events.

In the epistle, we focus on the fact that, because of the resurrection, we are given the gift of life on a new level, a fullness of life, a hope, and a joy we could not have imagined, no matter what the outward circumstances of our lives may be.

In the gospel, we have the story of Thomas, which is so much our story. Thomas is a pragmatic sort of person. In many ways, he embodies the spirit of our age. The other disciples have seen the risen Jesus. He wants to have that experience, too. He wants to see the evidence in cold, hard facts. He does not want to go on second hand information. He has questions.

He has been through the whole ordeal leading up to the Cross. He has heard from the others that Jesus is risen and has appeared to them. But he has not seen for himself. “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,” Thomas tells the others.

A week later, there they are, as they have been, gathering together and praying, but this time Thomas is with them. And Jesus appears. He invites Thomas to touch his wounds, but Thomas does not need to. “My Lord and my God!” Thomas breathes a prayer of deep faith, a prayer of adoration. He has seen the risen Jesus. He knows that it is all true.

The story of Thomas tells us many important things. One of the most important is that people of faith have doubts. People of faith have questions. It is all right to have doubts. It is all right to ask questions. I love the ad that was done by the National Church Office that said something like, “The Episcopal Church knows that God gave us minds. You don’t have to check your brain at the door.” The journey of faith is a journey of questioning and learning and growing. In a community of faith, we are called to question together and to learn together, for we are all journeying together.

When the risen Christ visits his followers, he breathes the Holy Spirit into them and confers on them the ministry of reconciliation. Webster’s dictionary says that to reconcile is “to bring into harmony.” To bring opposing forces into harmony. To bring all things together. To bring the creation into harmony. When Jesus greets his followers, he says, “Shalom. Peace. Shalom means the bringing together of disparate elements, the knitting together of opposite forces in harmony.

Jesus is conferring on his followers and on us the ministry of reconciliation. He is calling us to assist in whatever ways our God-given gifts allow, in the process of bringing peace to the world and to people’s hearts, of ensuring that we in the human family treat each other with genuine respect. A very tall order. Possible only with God’s grace.

Thomas sees the risen Lord and believes. Jesus blesses those who have not seen and yet have come to believe. We have not literally touched the wounds of our risen Lord. We have not seen the risen Jesus in the literal sense. And that combination of the wounds and the risen Christ is at the crux of Thomas’ and our need to see the risen Lord. It is so hard to think that one who has endured that horrible crucifixion can have come through it all and be leading us to new life. But that is the paradoxical truth. The One who has suffered and the One who is risen are the same. Death is not the end. Sometimes things have to die in order to make new life possible. “Unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it will not bear fruit,” our Lord told us.

Unlike Thomas, we have not literally seen the risen Lord with our own eyes. We were not in that room with the first community in Christ. Yet we have seen him; we have felt his presence and power. We have experienced deaths which have led to new life. We have seen suffering lead to transformation. We have felt his hand leading us. We have felt his heart loving us, encouraging us on difficult parts of the journey. In many, many different ways he has come to meet us in times of grief and challenge, and we have known that he has walked the way before us, that he knows all the desert places and all the clearest freshest springs, all the rocky climbs and all the great vistas on the journey. He has been there. Nothing is untouched by his loving presence. He is alive and we are alive in him.

May our faith be strengthened by his presence. May we reach out with his love and his ministry of reconciliation. May we see yet again and believe even more deeply.

Amen

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