“Teach me, God, to wonder…”

Every so often, someone will ask me; “how do you do it?”
“How do you come up with something different to say week after week?”
There is no short answer to that kind of question,
but the simple answer is that all I really do
is find different ways to say the same thing week after week.

The message is that God loves us –
the how, the why and the what next
is what gives me something to say – that is what makes the preachers task both interesting and rewarding.
“it must be hard” people say “putting a sermon together every week”
but that isn’t the hard part…
the hard part is getting folks to believe the wonderful news I’m privileged to deliver.
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“We have seen the Lord!” – good news indeed to those who had only too recently
seen their Lord arrested, beaten, tried, convicted, killed and buried.
That Jesus had visited them in a locked room;
that he had comforted them in their terror and offered them the truly good news
of blessing from “The Father” – of empowerment in the spirit and forgiveness from sin
was something too good to be believed –
and that is the sentiment behind the response offered by Thomas…
Unless I see…unless I touch…
following that age old dictum:
If it seems  too good to be true, it probably is (too good to be true).
Thomas isn’t special in this regard, just cautious.
Who among us would have responded any differently
given the difficult circumstances of the previous week,
and the sudden turn of events marked by stories of an empty tomb
and visions of the dead restored to life…?

How often are we ready to accept the fantastic reality of Easter:
of Jesus risen, of our own lives renewed, of our relationship with God restored…
———————————————————————————————- +
Too often do we recite the creed, announce the details of our historic faith
without being shaken to the core by the wonder of it…
because it is a wonder.
Thomas problem is not that he doubts –
there was plenty of doubt in that group of terrified souls –
Thomas’ problem is that the wonder of what has happened had not yet come to him.
To see, touch and really experience the resurrection – that was all he asked.
It was no more than had already happened to  the rest of them.
Jesus voice – Jesus presence – Jesus comfort
had embraced them behind the locked door,
and in that moment, their joy was greater than their doubt.

The challenge for us as we seek to share the good news of Christ
is not that we need to find words that will perfectly persuade,
for in truth,  there are no such words.
The challenge is not in emotional excitement, or intellectual certainty;
the challenge is in sharing the sense of wonder that will allow joy to overcome our doubt –
the challenge is to open minds and lives to the story
so the wonder of it might sweep away the suspicion
that “it sounds too good to be true…”
———————————————————————————— +
So here we sit,
with the glow of our Easter discovery beginning to fade into forgetfulness,
and with Thomas, we are bold to wonder if it really happened.
Not doubting, we tell ourselves, merely curious.
Some evidence would be nice – something more than an eyewitness account;
newsreel footage, perhaps,  or some other memento of the time.

To doubt seems sometimes reasonable –
our curiosity often gets the better of us.
We are driven to question, to examine and gather what evidence we can,
yet the proof we find is rarely complete.
But where God is concerned, the proof is not ours to find
it is for God to reveal –
one small miracle at a time;
one silent surprise, one stunning revelation.

It is within our  small, sacred, and sometimes frightened community;
our gathering in casual curiosity, and our well-rehearsed worship
that the promise of presence –
wherever two or three are gathered in my name, I am there also –
offers us the only evidence we need.

For here, behind the locked doors of our silent doubting,
Jesus yet stands.
Here amid the hymns and the prayers and the ancient words of hope
Jesus speaks “Peace” to us.

Here in our worship and work and play,
overwhelmed by the lack of evidence, and driven to distraction by our uncertainty,
here we are met by the wonderful truth of the Gospel:
God’s own grace fills the empty spaces in our lives,
lifts the bars from the doors we have locked
and, wonder of wonders,
though it seems death is all around us,
we find life waiting for us.
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