Second Chances – by Mother Beth
Do you ever wonder or worry that maybe you’ve missed it? There was this one chance to do the right thing or to realize your full potential but that time came and went and you missed it. So what is there for you to do now? All of the excitement and adventure is behind you. There is sometimes a feeling of letdown after a major festival. We put so much of our heart and energy into preparing for that one big day whether it be a wedding, Christmas or even Easter. We make all the arrangements and plan everything to a T and then when it is over there is a mix of emotions. We are happy and pleased but also relieved that it all came together. Sometimes we are disappointed because things didn’t go as planned and now it is too late.
As we age I think it is easier to look back wistfully at how things were when we were younger – the things we could do – opportunities taken or missed.
The good news on this second Sunday of Easter is that God wants to be in relationship with you – He wants to reveal himself to you – it is not too late – the journey is still ahead – you have not missed the boat.
The gospel reading for today picks up where we left off last Sunday. Peter and the beloved disciple have been to the tomb and have seen that Jesus body is gone and Mary has encountered the risen Christ and returned to tell the disciples about her encounter.
We hear that the disciples are assembled together in a room with the door locked and they are afraid. It is not clear exactly what they are afraid of – they may have been afraid of what would happen to them since Jesus was put to death and as followers of Jesus they could be next or they may just be afraid that now they will be put out of the synagogue and no longer allowed to worship with everyone else.
As they are gathered Jesus appears to them –speaks Peace to them and then he shows them his hands and his side.
By showing them the wounds in his hands and side – he is assuring them that he is in fact the bodily resurrected Christ – he is not an apparition or a figment of their imagination. Once they realize that he is the Christ – they rejoice. But the journey does not end with the resurrection – John goes on to tell us that Jesus says to them “Peace be with you as the Father has sent me so send I you” – Just as Jesus was sent to them so they are now sent to others. They are commissioned by Jesus to go and to tell others about the forgiveness of sins.
You see they have been locked up in this room wondering what to do – afraid and probably more than a little disappointed — everything that they had hoped for and planned had ended and even once they realized that Christ had been raised, they were still left alone – Christ was gone but what did that mean for them? There is no “this” without “Him”.
But now Jesus appears before them and gives them new instructions. It is not over – they have work to do and they are motivated by seeing Christ – resurrected – in the flesh – but also his words of commissioning – sending them off to keep up the work of the ministry – to continue preaching the kingdom of God.
And then we catch up with Thomas. Somehow Thomas has missed the meeting with Jesus and he is not content to just take the others word for it. HE now he insists that he too must see with his own eyes to believe – he insists that he must put his hand in Jesus side before he will believe.
The church has traditionally given Thomas a hard time for not believing the word of the other disciples; calling him “Doubting Thomas”. I am encouraged by his determination to see for himself.
So if you are disappointed today – if things have not turned out the way you had hoped or planned, be encouraged. Thomas could have thought he had missed it – there was one opportunity and he was off doing something else. But instead of giving up and assuming that he doesn’t need to know, Thomas insists that he see for himself.
Don’t settle for less than a real encounter with the living Christ – Thomas doesn’t – he is bold enough to admit that he is not interested in just taking the word of the other disciples – he wants the full experience himself – and why shouldn’t he get it – the others did
How badly do you want to know the truth? Are you interested in a real experience or content to just take someone else’s word for it. We hear a lot of things in bits and pieces now – the result of research and discovery is saved for those who are employed to do such digging or for those who like to do it. We often want the quick fix – maybe we think, I don’t need to know how to get the answer – I just need to know the answer – think about calculators for mathematics class – there was a time when we were training to know how to solve the problem ourselves but now we use machines to do that. Often it is the same with church, we want someone to tell us the answer BUT, the truth is to be sought after. It is good to listen and learn from others but we should not check our brains at the door – we need to seek and find.
Thomas insists on a personal experience – and a week later, Jesus shows up and shows Thomas his hands and his side; allowing Thomas to touch and be sure that He is in fact, present in bodily form. It’s not too late. Thomas did not miss the opportunity. Jesus takes the time to alleviate whatever doubts there are.
And the good news for us is that the encounter does not end there. Jesus goes on to affirm those who will believe without seeing. This is a word of encouragement for those who would read John’s gospel from that time to the present time and beyond. It’s not too late!
Jesus is speaking to us – encouraging and blessing us – for believing without seeing him in the flesh – for persevering in faith even if we have questions or so called “doubts”.
Thomas was brave to voice his demands – to insist that he get his own opportunity to see Christ.
Are you brave enough to ask God for the assurance that you need?
Do you have doubts that need to be laid to rest? It is not too late to have an encounter with the risen Lord. It is not too late to believe.
God wants to hear your concerns and questions – HE can handle them.
And once you’ve had an encounter – the good news is – it’s not over – there is still more for you. Christ comes speaking peace and breathing the Holy Spirit into and over you so that you might go out and tell others about the forgiveness that you have found in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Easter Sunday may be over – the excitement and anticipation set aside but we are not finished – we have not missed the opportunity – there are still many opportunities to be taken and experienced.
This is just the beginning of our ministry – Christ calls us to take up his charge and to go and tell. The words he uses here are powerful.
23If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.”
God gives us the responsibility to help others come to an understanding of forgiveness.
The good news is – it’s not too late for us – for God to reveal himself to us – for God to use us. But it is also good news for those around us – in our homes – in our community – it is not too late for them – God wants us to go out and reveal his love to them – to show them the good news of God’s forgiveness.
Easter Sunday may be over – but it’s not too late.