John 20:19-31 (NRSV)
Verse 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." Verse 20After he said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord. Verse 21Jesus said to them again, "Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you." Verse 22When he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, "Receive the Holy Spirit. Verse 23If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained." Verse 24But Thomas (who was called the Twin), one of the twelve, was not with them when Jesus came. Verse 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."
Verse 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." Verse 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." Verse 28Thomas answered him, "My Lord and my God!" Verse 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." Verse 30Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book. Verse 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.
Gathered and sent
After experiencing a loss sometimes we just need to hunker down. Those gathered in that upper room had journeyed with Jesus. They had seen and experienced his love. They had witnessed his ministry to the marginalized, and the healing power of being seen, being touched, and heard. Now it was time for them to go forth and share the light of Christ, to bring witness and healing to a broken world. Yes, we too are gathered and sent, and we continue to need community, coming together to be fed and forgiven. Dietrich Bonhoeffer offers great insight into an authentic Christian community in his classic work Life Together. He writes “God has put this Word into the mouths of humans in order that it may be communicated to others. When persons are struck by the Word, they speak it to others. God has willed that we should seek and find the living Word in the witness of brothers and sisters, in the mouth of human beings. Therefore, Christians need other Christians who can speak God’s Word to them. They need them again and again whenever they become uncertain and discouraged, for by themselves they cannot help themselves without belying the truth.” (Bonhoeffer, Life Together, 1954, p 22-23, language modified to be more inclusive).
God, sometimes it is easier to hide behind doors and walls, yet you have filled us with the Spirit and sent us forth to serve. May we as sisters and brothers speak the Word to our neighbors and be a witness in our daily life. Amen.