The sermon will be a post on our Facebook page. Please click on link to view sermon.
Welcomed with Open Arms
Thomas is not the only one missing from the assembly the Sunday after Easter Sunday. We are not told why Thomas is missing, but we do know why plenty of other folks are absent from the assembly: vacations, traveling, spring break for the kids.
Thomas is criticized for doubting, but he asks for nothing more than the same experience of the risen Christ the rest of the disciples had. By the grace of God, Jesus returns a second time and offers his body as living proof to Thomas. In the presence of Jesus, Thomas discovers he did not need the proof he demanded. Thomas’ story is our story. We are not always where we need to be. Sometimes we even find ourselves in places we should not be at all. But Jesus comes to us, seeking us out and giving us the gift of faith. Thomas is not criticized, he is not condemned. Instead Jesus loves Thomas back into a relationship and shows the disciples what the words “Peace be with you” mean when lived out.
The resurrection promise can be heard through Peter’s powerful preaching in the reading from Acts as well. Jesus will triumph over death. Peter points to Jesus’ death on the cross, but what of the little ways we die? The loss of relationships, the ending of friendships, the pain of being alone and left out, the despair of losing a job, the doubt that comes on the heels of a negative diagnosis. Jesus comes to bring a holy peace and resurrection into the world in these times as well. This Sunday is an opportunity to proclaim the power of the resurrection and the grace of God, who welcomes Thomas with open arms.
Gospel: John 20:19-31
The risen Jesus appears to his disciples, offering them a benediction, a commission, and the gift of the Holy Spirit. But one of their number is missing, and his unbelief prompts another visit from the Lord.
19When 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.” 20After he said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord. 21Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.” 22When he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. 23If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.”
24But Thomas (who was called the Twin), one of the twelve, was not with them when Jesus came. 25So 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.”
26A 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.” 27Then 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.” 28Thomas answered him, “My Lord and my God!” 29Jesus said to him, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe.”
30Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book. 31But 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.