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Resurrection Reverberations: The Second Sunday of Easter

Sunday, April 24, 2022:
John 20:19-31

This Sunday is sometimes called “Low Sunday.” I’m not sure if it’s because typically it was a stripped down “low mass” after the complexity of the Easter “high mass.” Or maybe the relatively lower attendance numbers the week after Easter. Or maybe just energy and excitement level being lower. It’s probably all true, and a bit funny, but also good.

It’s good that what we trust and celebrate was accomplished as event on Good Friday and Easter is something that resounds beyond that moment, and into all time. It’s good that this joyful event is not contingent on how we’re feeling; we don’t need to be joyful in disposition for it to apply to us. It’s good, because we’re all wired differently. And because we’re all fighting our own battles. (One need not be an extrovert or a charismatic, or have it all together, to be touched by the Resurrection.) “Easter,” someone once said, means that the divine Love that transformed the tree of defeat into the tree of victory “is available to everybody and that nothing can stop its work in the world, however ghastly that world may seem to be. Such divine Love ‘could not be holden of death,’ nor could it be stopped or put aside.”* Some people will catch it in the first wave. Others will experience it in the lower rumbling reverberations of the aftershocks. And the gospel recognizes this (as more the norm than the exception): “Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe.”

The disciples, gathered in that room, they saw things that we would love to have seen, ourselves. Thomas, who would have seen many amazing things over the years, missed out on that first appearance of Jesus to the group. But see how Jesus makes sure that his absence, or his surliness, don’t get the last word. The victory of Easter effected on the Cross, that “one oblation of himself once offered,” is made a present reality to the disciples — to the nascent Church — as Jesus grants them peace; they are filled with the Holy Spirit; and they are entrusted with the work of building this community of ‘resurrection people,’ and empowered to do it. For ‘resurrection’ is not just some far off, other-worldly hope, but also a here-and-now experience of life in abundance, in which death (and the ways of death) no longer have dominion over us. And so life restored and renewed comes to the disciples, closed off to others in their fear; and they’re changed, and sent.

In his Good Friday sermon, Rowan Williams described the experience of resurrection coming into our lives as a present reality like this: The risen Jesus appearing to us, in our four walls, saying: “There is nothing between you and God. Because I’m in God, and I’m in you. There is nothing between you and your neighbour. Because I’m in your neighbour, and I’m in you. And there is nothing between you and your deepest self. Because I am your deepest self.”**

And Jesus has overcome the divide not just between people, or between people and God, but between ourselves and all of creation: “between paradise before the fall and the earth as we now know it, [and] between heaven and earth… between creature and creator… [all of this] overcome in the renewed humanity that Christ creates.”***

We have these fifty days of Easter — notably longer than the Lenten season that tends to get more attention — to consider the implications of Christ’s death and resurrection, and to take steps in welcoming that renewal into our lives. The power of God that raised Jesus is at work today. Jesus is coming to us: unhindered by our fear and whatever locked doors we’ve put up. Pronouncing peace. Calling us to life together. And giving us what we need to realize this. All of this that we might have life in his name. Amen.

© 2022 The Rev’d Matthew Kieswetter

*Norman Pittenger, Passion and Perfection (Cincinnati: Forward Movement Publications, 1985), 62.

** His Good Friday sermon at All Saints’ Margaret Street, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7NuTCHo3gys&t=624s

*** The Dwelling of the Light (Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans, 2003), 30-31.