We welcome Paster Erin Evans to CLC as the interim minister. We also thank Ed Kapsha, organist, for organizing special music for this day including Tessa Douglas, cantor, and Vince Diantonio, trumpet.
Grace and peace to you from God our Father and from the Risen Christ. Amen.
At some point we learn to hide our wounds. Not having reached that point yet, my four year old loudly laments any booboo. And then shows us daily checking for healing progress. Needs to call grandma and tell her what happened, and then call aunt Mary and tell her too. All the bandaids for kids are loud prints or eye catching cartoon characters. While the bandaids for grownups are intended to blend with your skin tone.
At some point we learn to hide our wounds. Cover our scars. Ignore our pain. Appear unblemished, unmolested, and unbothered by any emotional trauma. Avoid showing the bits that are hurting or vulnerable.
Deeply wounded and fearful – the disciples are on lock-down in the Upper Room. The religious leaders have likely heard, and so have the Romans, that Jesus body is missing. And Jesus followers may be the next targets if Rome is trying to make an example out of someone. But where is Thomas?
And a week later Jesus appears to them again, and this time they are all together. I wonder what went down during that week – as they likely remained fearfully locked in that room together. Were they just waiting for Jesus to return? Chiding Thomas for his lack of faith? Arguing over who among them was the greatest? Trying to predict what Jesus would do next?
These readings show us the truth that meeting together, fellowship together, bodies in-person, touch and community are important and vital to Christians – and our new life in Christ. But not only is it important – we are reassured that it is messy, complicated, and sometimes a struggle.
Prophet and preacher, Debie Thomas, writes “Thomas reassures us that our glorious Easter hymns notwithstanding, the week after the resurrection has always been murky, messy, and complicated. We’re not the first human beings to struggle with it, and we won’t be the last. Struggle is intrinsic to post-Easter life.”
We struggle because bodies are frail, fragile, and easily wounded. Even with the promise of life in Christ, our mortal bodies get sick, get worn down. We fall and knees fail. And this protective skin coating only goes so far to protect our insides, we are a people who are physically and emotionally wounded easily. And we struggle because the truth of the resurrection requires us to both pay attention to the wounds and at the same time look past them to the hope and promise and the reality of new life.
And so as the disciples gather – definitely emotionally wounded and fearful they may be physically wounded. Christ appears bodily to them. John’s Gospel gives us Jesus resurrected body wounds and all. The pain and the trauma is still visible for all to see – and yet, there is new life. Resurrected life, Jesus body is the same but now different because death has been defeated.
And in his appearance to the disciples, wounds and all gives the example to the church about how we ought to present ourselves to the world. The church is the body of christ in this world, and we ought not to be afraid to show it because we have wounds and scars.
The wounds of the church are mostly self-inflicted. And they range from fresh grazes to deep healed over scars. The wounds to the body of the church in America come from the sin and evils of racism and slavery. Christians have wounded the body with the sin of sexual assault and misogyny. We wound the body with gossip and slander, and with pride and our refusal to own our own shortcomings.
And despite those wounds, the church lives to tell the story with our bodies that death has been defeated. Every scar tells a story. Every wound that is healing requires care. Can we be vulnerable with each other? Can we be honest with each other? The story of our bodies intertwines with God’s story of creation and redemption for the whole world. What happens to our bodies is important.
We have spent over a year trying to keep our bodies safe – and protect the most vulnerable among us through the pandemic of COVID, the pandemic of racial violence and tension, the pandemic of gun violence, and pandemic related depression, anxiety, and fear.
Today Jesus shares his broken and wounded body, so that we might be assured yet again that our broken and wounded body also lives. Jesus shows us his wounded body so that we might not fear our wounds. The wounds are reality, serious and deadly – but they aren’t the end of the story. The Risen Christ comes to be with them even in the midst of their fear and offers peace. Peace in the midst of whatever fearful situation is unfolding. Peace in the midst of whatever history we are trying to process and overcome. Peace in the midst of conflict – when one is able to just take a breath and take a step back. And we’ll share that peace today – not just a nicety or a good morning or a hey how are you – but the proclamation that Christ’s peace is with you and for you. And that’s how we’ll approach Holy Communion, with that peace.
Holy Communion has been infrequent and strange for the church in this season. And in this sacrament we are shown and given the very body and blood of christ. For you. Broken for you, Poured out for you. To nourish and strengthen the faithful for those times when we are broken and poured out.
For the wounded church, it is not just about resilience, but resurrection. The Risen Christ offers us his wounded body, so that we might believe that as the body of Christ in this world, we have a chance to be christ for our neighbor, wounds and all. As God has always been in the business of making all things new, not only can God heal and redeem, but God can resurrect. Even and especially when all is pain and death around us, we are given peace in our fear. When we are wounded and broken, we are reassured by the promises of resurrection. Christ’s power over sin and death came through his vulnerability and humility. May we be bold enough to live as Christ’s body in this world, proclaiming the God news of what God is doing, wounds and all. Amen.