The Resurrected Christ: Visible and Not Visible (Second Sunday of Easter)

Homily, “The Resurrected Christ: Visible and Not Visible”
Second Sunday of Easter, 2020
Online for St. George’s Episcopal Church
Griffin, GA

Derek M Larson, TSSF

Today’s Lectionary Readings:
Acts 2:14a,22-32
Psalm 16
1 Peter 1:3-9
John 20:19-31 

I am standing in a little chapel my son and I made last week in our backyard for Holy Week. On Saturday night he and my wife and I gathered here with fire representing the light of Christ and water representing our baptism to celebrate Easter together. It was simple but beautiful. The next morning I enjoyed watching other Easter services around the country online, including the beautiful service at St. George’s. We are living in strange and somewhat exciting times when with the click of a button I can worship with communities around the world.

And yet if you’re anything like me, it just felt like something was missing this year. I missed being in the sacred space of a church. I missed sharing bread and wine with the people around me. I missed hearing the voices of the choir. While we are so blessed to have technology that allows us to connect in this way each week, its still hard to not be physically present in the sacred space of a church with others. It almost feels like God is less present.

I imagine the disciples felt like that in our gospel lesson today. After an exciting and life changing three years of following Jesus, they find themselves without their Lord and teacher. He has been killed and they are now alone. And to make things worse, the doors to the house are closed and locked because they are afraid to go outside for fear of those who killed Jesus. But suddenly right there in the midst of their grief and despair, the resurrected Jesus appears to them.

Imagine that. Here we are in the midst of our own grief and fear, mourning the loss of a traditional Easter and the gospel this morning reminds us that the first Easter was celebrated not in a church or temple or synagogue, but in a house—in a house where the resurrected Jesus appeared to a fearful and grieving people in quarantine!

The walls of quarantine and the separation of physical distancing cannot and will not keep out the presence of the resurrected Christ. God is present with you, right where you are.

Take a moment and ask yourself. Where is the resurrected Christ present right now in your home? Maybe he’s in the blooming flowers, or he’s in the love of a spouse or other family member. Maybe he’s in the sound of wind chimes, or maybe he’s in the taste of coffee. Maybe he’s in the bread on the table or the sunshine coming through the windows. Maybe he’s in the breath you take in or the morning’s waking up. Take a moment. Pause this video. Where is the resurrected Christ present right now in your home? Christ is risen! And he is risen not only in the church building down the road but at your very kitchen table!

Or maybe you don’t see him. I’m sure some of us do, but maybe you don’t.

Not everyone got to experience the resurrected Jesus right away. Thomas wasn’t there. We don’t where he was. Maybe he was taking a quick walk. Maybe he was out stocking up on groceries. Maybe he was checking in on other isolated neighbors and assessing the threat level for his community. Wherever he was, he wasn’t there when Jesus appeared. He just didn’t have that privilege.

Maybe you feel like Thomas this morning—like you missed out on seeing Jesus this Easter. Maybe you’re out there providing an “essential” service and weren’t there to see Jesus appear in the house. Maybe you missed it because it takes everything in you just to manage your grief and fear. Maybe you’re so busy making sure others are taken care of Easter happened too fast for you to take it in. Maybe you’re just so lonely, longing for human touch that like Thomas you say, “unless my hands can hold the hands of Jesus I won’t believe.”

I see you. Thomas sees you. Christ sees you. And if I may say, your woundedness does not disqualify you from experiencing resurrection. You may not be seeing resurrection in this moment. That’s okay. You’re not alone. Your experience is valid. In the end, Christ came back just for Thomas. And he came to him with his own open wounds and shared them with him. For Thomas the experience of resurrection came in woundedness. Christ came back just for Thomas and Christ will come back just for you.

This week some of us are experiencing the resurrected Christ in new, surprising, and exciting ways and some of us are feeling stuck in Holy Saturday. But the message for us all is that the presence of the resurrected Jesus is not held hostage by the barriers which may surround us. Whether those barriers be the physical walls of our homes or the grief we bear or uncertainty in a strange time, the resurrected Christ comes to us with the words, “Peace. Peace be with you.” So take heart. Christ is still present. Even when you don’t see Jesus, Jesus sees you. And Jesus will come to you wherever you are and make his presence known. Christ is risen. The Lord is risen indeed. Amen.