When they saw him, they worshipped him; but some doubted.
But when they heard that he was alive and had been seen by her, they would not believe it.
But these words seemed to them an idle tale, and they did not believe them.
…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.'
On Friday afternoon, we are all on the same page. Jesus has just been killed. Jesus is dead.
By Sunday morning, we recognize this as normal. This is the way it happens in the only world we've ever known.
As the days go by, we shrug and sound wise to each other. We note that human brutality in the name of justice, keeping the peace, sustaining traditional power, responding to societal threats, appeasing the crowd, and silencing the voices of dissent has so frequently led to arrest, incarceration, torture, and death.
We all accept that flowers die.
As soon as we can, we scatter.
On Sunday, some of us see the empty tomb, listen to an angel, and know that Jesus is resurrected from death. Others of us want to reject that thought at first but we find our way to a place of acceptance soon enough. Still others of us need the evidence to mount a little higher. With more witnesses, more encounters with the risen Christ, and more breakfasts on the beach, we begin to get it, to see it. There are those of us, and maybe some part of each of us, that will only believe when we place our fingers in the wounds of the living hands of Jesus himself.
It takes more than a morning of trumpets for resurrection to sink in.
So, we live our lives between Good Friday and … when? Easter? Maybe between Good Friday and Pentecost. For on Pentecost, to which we trace the founding of our churches as the Spirit descends on the disciples, we begin to see something concrete again, something we can touch. We begin to see the church.
The church is like Jesus in that it is capable of death, capable of being killed. It is also like Jesus in that it is capable of being reborn. It is also capable of being the place where a soul can find that which will prove to be new life, renewal, and salvation. It is capable of being that kind of home.
If you have doubts, let them be holy doubts, sacred doubts. If you doubt the risen Christ do not allow that doubt to compromise your hope for the kingdom to be found among us. Do not allow your uncertainty to let you settle for a church that is a building and good friends. Hold to the integrity of the church as the embodiment of Christ still among us. Let no one dissuade you from your struggle to show extravagant kindness, to practice radical welcome, to experience surprising joy in the only life we have, to stand against oppression, and to disrupt any moments when one human being tries to diminish another.
Oh Holy One, we pray for an everyday Pentecost. We pray for the Spirit to inspire our hearts in the divine song. We pray, thy kingdom come. Amen.