The first half of the sermon is in the previous post - here's the second half!
(but if you want to play a little game you could read the second half first & see if it makes more sense that way round!)
I really like this story – not just for what it tells us about Thomas, but for what it tells us about the other disciples. For me, this story pokes holes in the idea that the early church had it all right and we get it all wrong.
On Easter Sunday, all the disciples except Thomas & Judas are locked in the room ‘for fear of the Jews’. According to John’s gospel, they have heard from Simon & John about the empty tomb and then they have heard from Mary Magdalene, who has seen & even spoken with the risen Jesus. Still, they’re unsure, still, they are afraid.
These stories may have poked some holes in their darkness, but they’re still not completely sure they can live in the light of the resurrection.
Then Jesus appears and they rejoice. Jesus says to them ‘As the Father sent me so I send you - receive the Holy Spirit’.
Maybe more holes appear in the darkness: but when they tell Thomas he is unconvinced, and a week later they are back again (only this time with Thomas) sat in the room behind closed doors.
Jesus has to appear again to convince Thomas that the light is shining in the darkness: and maybe this second appearance, as well as the appearances that John mentions to us but doesn’t describe, are needed by the disciples before they can really believe in Jesus as the son of God who has risen from death & who is telling them to tell the world.
We sometimes tell the Easter story as if the joy of new life and resurrection dawns on Jesus friends all at once. But the gospels tell us accounts of stories, and hints, and possibilities, and various appearances of the risen Jesus. Each pokes a new home in the darkness, each lets a little more light in.
So perhaps we shouldn’t be too hard on ourselves if we struggle to understand and we struggles to share the story ourselves.
The darkness can seem overwhelming: the darkness of grief, or hopelessness, of fear, of pain. But Jesus is alive – the darkness has been overcome – and every hope we have and every story we hear can poke another hole in the darkness until there is enough light to really see the eternal life Jesus offers.
May God grant us light for our way and bless us so that we may poke holes in the darkness of this world and bring light to others, in Jesus’ name. Amen.