The Rev. Spencer D. Cantrell
You know I have to say, I liked a lot of things about Fr.
Steve’s sermon for Easter Sunday. But what has stayed with
me the most is how he did not spare us from the strangeness,
the uncanniness, the ‘wild’-ness of the reality of the
resurrection of Jesus.
We get a little more of that weirdness this week, when we
are told in the Gospel that the disciples were huddled in a
house together with the doors locked, and suddenly Jesus is
standing among them — having, of course, to say “Peace be
with you,” not so much the way that we use it in liturgy, but
more so to say, “Whoa whoa whoa, it’s okay, it’s okay, it’s
just me. Sorry, that probably was terrifying, wasn’t it? Sorry
I snuck up on you guys like that.”
Yikes, right? Your dead friend isn’t dead anymore. The
impossible has been rendered, evidently, possible. We’re so
used to this as a concept as Christians that it’s tough to tap
into that weirdness, that wildness; an event which, if you
were to witness it firsthand, really would turn your world
upside down. The difference is that we have the benefit of a
two-thousand year buffer between us and those who first
bore witness to that strange event, whose lives were turned
upside down by it.
We find Thomas, though, skeptical of what he sees. For good
reason, right? Again, he was dead. I saw him die. I wept for
him as I wondered what I am supposed to do now. I’ve given
up my entire life to follow this man, wherever he has gone I
have gone, and I just suddenly lost him. I’m sill reeling from
that, and then here he is, in the room with us? I just don’t
even know what to think.
The writer of the Gospel records Jesus telling Thomas that it
would have been better to have not seen and believed, than
to have tested things. For us, what Jesus means and what the
Gospel writer knows, is that we have come into a time in
which we can’t do what Thomas did. We can’t have our
doubt assuaged by placing our hands in the wounds.
For us, the spiritual physics of faith are that when we doubt,
and then find faith, that faith has been strengthened by
doubt. Not just because we’ve simply overcome it and we
can move on as if it never happened. No. When we find
ourselves in doubt, wrestling with what our faith teaches, it’s
probably because we are having an authentic experience of,
encounter with, just how strange and wild it actually is.
We are people who believe in a world turned upside down.
We pray for our enemies. We believe hearts of stone can
melt, that people actually can change in response to grace.
That by the grace of God, our brokenness and self-
destructiveness can be and has been redeemed. That the poor
and the peacemakers, and the meek in heart are blessed.
If we doubt the Good News, it’s probably because it sounds
too good to be true.
Yet, here he stands in our midst. Telling us, “Peace be with
In Easter season, we aren’t really ‘preparing’ for something
in the same way that we are during Advent or Lent. In Easter
season, we are more so taking time to process an event — a
bomb that has gone off, really — we’re in the aftermath, the
wake of it. And we take this season indeed to celebrate that
mystery, as much as we take the time to figure out what
we’re supposed to do now; who we are to be in light of it.
In a world that has been turned upside down lately, we know
something about that as Christians, don’t we. We have a way
to read it — both the catastrophe of it, and the possibility of
it. And in all of it, the grace that it is possible to find. The
call to action that it necessitates on behalf of those suffering
unjustly. And the call to prayer to steady and steep ourselves
in what we know by faith, and who by faith we mean to be.
And even if we are like the disciples, huddled in our rooms
scattered, isolated, afraid, and in doubt; turns out, we know
that the light of the world does not need our permission to
burst in on us, and say to us “Peace be with you”, peace that
passes all understanding.
So may we continue into this Eastertide as a people in the
aftermath of something great. Something that is ground
breaking and life changing, for us even this very day.
Something that makes us, even in a world turned upside
down today, people who know who we are. People who
doubt but hope anyway. People of faith. People of love.
People of resurrection.
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! By
his great mercy he has given us a new birth into a living hope
through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and
into an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and