John 20:27 – “Then Jesus said, ‘Put your finger here and see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it in my side. Do not doubt, but believe.’”
As the days of Advent move to a conclusion and we gaze toward the Nativity celebration, perhaps we are aware of the burdens with which this season is laden. There is of course the weight of expectations and the pressure some experience to make it all perfect. At the same time not all burdens are bad: “He ain’t heavy, he’s my brother.” Some we take up with gladness and even joy.
One of the burdens I am glad to bear is the one of prayer, interceding for the hopes and needs of the saints in The Episcopal Church in South Carolina and beyond. Right now my intercessions are heavy with great need and longing expressed by many. There seems to be an overwhelming number of folks I am holding before God’s mercy who are struggling with varying stages of cancer. I am praying for friends who have been beat up and jailed while demonstrating peacefully; the victims of the atrocities in Syria and Egypt; sufferers of abuse; the reconciliation and healing of racial division; the safe return of troops coming home from war; rebuilding efforts in Haiti; the plight of Central American refugees. You have your list.
It is in times like this I understand the plea of the Psalmist: “Oh that I had wings like a dove. I would fly away and be at rest.” Yet that is not Jesus’ invitation to Thomas or even to the rest of the disciples for that matter. Jesus offers us his peace as he beckons us to stare straight into the woundedness of the world through his wounds. He invites us to see and even touch the places of pain. Strangely enough, it is right there, in solidarity with the world at the precipice, that we have the opportunity to believe. We are called to faithfulness not merely when everything is perceived to be okay, but at the very place of deepest hurt and longing. There in Christ’s wounds is the brokenness of the world.
Perhaps Thomas’ proclamation of “My Lord and my God” is not only a statement of faithfulness. Maybe it is also a plea, a crying out of hope against hope that in the midst of the wounds of the world all around us that somehow, even there, we can meet God. The Gospel wants us to understand clearly that the One risen is indeed also the One who was executed. We also know in this week that the One crucified is the One born in a manger in Bethlehem. We are invited to come and adore our God in the vulnerability of infancy and also as we gaze upon the worst humanity can dish out – and believe.