Sunday, April 28, 2019
2nd Sunday of Easter
First Reading: Acts 5:27-32
Psalm 118:14-29 or Psalm 150
Second Reading: Rev. 1:4-8
Gospel Reading: John 20:19-31
The liturgical color for the day is: White
Easter is not simply a day on the liturgical calendar, it is a season. The season is fifty days and stretches to the Day of Pentecost. Each Sunday in Eastertide is treated as a Sunday of Easter and is named successively, so this coming Sunday is the Second Sunday of Easter. While in practical terms, the Second Sunday of Easter is one of the lowest attendance Sundays of the year, the texts for preaching are rich with themes that touch the practicalities of what it means to believe and be people of faith.
Throughout the season of Easter, the first reading comes from the Book of Acts. This is in keeping with the great tradition that focuses on readings from the New Covenant over the Hebrew Scriptures during Eastertide.
The lesson on Thomas (John 20:19-31) appears in all three cycles of the lectionary. Thomas is so real!
When we doubt, we have nothing left but faith. Faith is that which binds us to God.
John Calvin, that Reformed theologian we Presbyterians best love, said that every day he doubted the existence of God and that he gave thanks for that doubt. He said that he gave thanks for that doubt because in it he could do nothing but cling to God.
It is not doubt that makes Thomas stand out. Rather, it is his willingness to admit it and be up front with it. Thomas was willing to own up to the reality that he just plain was not sure. This was just too much for him to grasp. Jesus is alive again—now that was a lot for him to wrap his mind around. He could not believe it. Unless, unless he put his finger in the nail marks in his hands and put his own hand in the pierced side of the Lord.
Jesus invites Thomas to do just that. Notice the detail. Thomas does not touch, but falls to the floor and proclaims, “My Lord and my God.” Thomas changed his mind and changed course—he did not need to touch the wounds and his doubt was left behind.
What a vision for resurrection: That we are empowered be up front with where we are. That we might be open to going in other directions. Living this resurrected life is openness to God saying to us: “Stop. Change. Go the other way.”
Thomas went on to go the distance. He was a successful apostle of the risen Lord.
With Thomas, we need to be open to the reality that this is a new day. God will call on us to go places and ways we never imagined or even saw for ourselves.
No doubt about it, such is the resurrected life!
Rev. Dr. Daris Bultena
PTF General Presbyter