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Monday, April 16, 2018

April 8, 2018 The 2nd Sunday of Easter

John 20:19-31     
Acts 4:32-35       
1 John 1:1-2:2
Turn to someone near you and share the following:
What wounds do you carry?  How/Where do you find healing?
Easter is a new beginning, so we celebrate with images of newborn chicks and blooming flowers.  But this new beginning doesn’t erase what comes before, it transforms it.  So maybe a better image for the Easter Season is a scar.
We are taught to cover our scars.  We treat them with Vitamin E so they will fade away and no one will know that we were ever hurt.  We pretend they don’t exist.  That is part of our culture of denial.  It is part of the way we present ourselves as young, pretty or handsome, as whole, brave, strong, healthy, righteous, and happy, which is a lie.  And at church even more, we propagate the myth that if you know Christ you are happy, so we hide away our hurts and put on a lie.  But the only one we’re deceiving is ourselves!
This lie keeps us from connecting to others because they can’t relate to someone who is not human.  This lie keeps us from connecting to God.  This lie sends the message to both God and our neighbors and friends, “I don’t need you.  I have it all under control.”  God knows it is a lie, although not malicious, because God knows our struggles.  And other people know our lie, too, because everyone tells the same lie.
What would it take to allow ourselves to be seen as the hurting humans we are?  I think someone has to be willing to be first, and that person is our Savior Jesus.  He willingly put himself in harm’s way, by meeting people in their hurts and failures, people who could no longer hide that they were hungry, divorced, ostracized, mocked, and excluded.  By meeting with them, he made himself unclean according to religious rules, and he upset the order that says you have to pretend to have it together.  So people plotted to kill him to stop his behavior, to stop him connecting with and empowering imperfect people.  The authorities were upset that he was exposing the lie in all of us.  And then Jesus publicly didn’t have it together, as he was arrested and tortured and hung on the cross to die.  He was so fully human that maybe we too can accept that we are human.  And after his resurrection, he still didn’t hide his wounds, his hurts.  He let them be seen.  Is this enough that we could admit that we have scars, wounds, and let them be seen and touched and tended?  What will it take for us to admit we are hurting?  What would it take to admit we’ve made mistakes and hurt others?  What will it take to name our regrets and our fears and our doubts? Do we hide them because we think God can’t take them, or use them?
This Gospel story, is hardly a happy Easter story for the second Sunday of Easter.  All these things are present: fear, wounds, guilt, shame, uncertainty.  And none of them upsets Jesus in the least.  The Disciples are afraid—so afraid they don’t leave their locked room for at least a week.  Jesus is present with his wounds, showing them to everyone.  The Disciples are wrestling with their guilt for having failed Jesus.  The Disciples are stuck in uncertainty—they know the good news, but they don’t know what to do about it.  Thomas is there with his doubt.  And we are in this story, too.  Did you hear the part about us?  Jesus says, “Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe.”  That’s us.  Not that we simply believed, but that we have come to believe—a process, or that we are coming to believe, with doubt as a part of that belief.  We are present with our doubts, our wounds, with our fears and our failings and our uncertainty and paralysis. 
We find Jesus still coming to us Disciples still locked in the upper room.  Just as we know the disciples found a way to unlock the door, to get past the lie, to admit their fear and anxiety, to admit their human wounds, we know that future generations depend on us overcoming our fears so they, too, can hear the story of how it is ok to be human, in fact it is blessed to be human, because it is blessed to love and be loved, to be honest, to be seen and heard, to be a child of God, to be in relationship with others who struggle in a similar way.
So what is finally going to unlock us from this room, where we’ve been holed up in fear?  What will finally open the door?  Will it be a word of peace, of shalom, wholeness?—a word that admits that we are a whole person despite our wounds and scars and failings, a word that implies connectedness and relationship, wholeness can only be achieved in relationship to God, each other, this earth, and the truth.  Will it be a word of forgiveness from someone we’ve gravely wronged, or a word of forgiveness from our own mouth to one who has gravely wronged us, remembering the peace that Jesus offered to those who betrayed and denied him, and to us who do the same?
Will it be reaching out to touch Jesus’ hands and side, his flesh and blood in Holy Communion and hearing the words, “All our welcome at this table.  Even you.”?
Will it be seeing and touching the wounds of someone Jesus has put on our path?  Will it be treating the wounds of a child or an animal, holding the hand of a person who is dying, washing someone who cannot care for themselves, listening to the painful stories of those who have left their homeland and been mistreated in our communities, listening to the stories of those who have been abused?  What wounds will we see and touch before we recognize Jesus standing in our midst, before we come to believe, before we realize his love is even for someone wounded and struggling like me?
You are invited to write your wound on a post-it and bring it up and place it on the cross.  It is holy.  It makes you who you are.  Jesus isn’t afraid of your wounds.  Let’s stop hiding them, get them out there where we can take a look at them, and remember that Jesus also had wounds and scars and he bears them with us.  We are not alone.  And the community bears them together.  That our wounds and scars can be a blessing when we let them connect us with each other, when they open us to God’s love.

Let us pray: God I ask you to see our wounds and bless us despite them and through them.  Help us to be real with one another about all that troubles us, and help our wounds and doubts and fears connect us to one another and to our Savior Jesus.  Amen.

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