Ah, yes. Yesterday’s gospel (the first Sunday after Easter) was the “Doubting Thomas” passage. Thomas was looked upon negatively by my elders when I was a child. But I think he is a well-intentioned, fervent seeker. Who, after all, wouldn’t want to see the living God? Who would settle for a second hand account without yearning for their own touch or glimpse? Who wouldn’t fall to their knees in awestruck recognition when faced with the living God and cry out (or whisper depending on your individual expressive style), “My Lord and my God!”
Have you had moments like that? I thought I had, here and there. And I treasured them in times of prayer or remembrance of them then.
They fade though. In fact, it faded enough that I began to wonder if it had all been in my imagination, this God-moment stuff. I missed several weeks of church in a row recently, and didn’t even miss it.
Today, in the sermon, our priest announced that next week we’d be having a parish listening session on desires for Christian Formation in our parish community. And he gave us “homework” to do; much the same sort of prayerful process he goes through during the week to prepare a sermon. He requested us to pray that God show us what he would have us say. And to simply show up.
The rational part of me totally gets the pragmatic, functional intended meaning of what he meant to communicate to our parish at large, and its needs at this moment in time. But whether part of his intent or not, and I have to doubt that my own individual stirrings of the soul registered in his sermon prep process….
…all the same, I am 100% convinced that God used this sermon to touch my heart and reach me. To invite me to return to him, to “put my hands in his side, put my fingers in the nail holes. ” To show up, in action and prayer to come closer to the living God. In our priest’s sermon, he reminded me of something I have long intuited, but had trouble putting into words, the thing that has always troubled me about an atonement, transactional understanding of salvation: we can’t “do it” on our own, of course, but God uses us and works with us all the time; not merely as pawns, but as partners in bringing the Kingdom, glimpses and touches of it here and there, to our earth. One way of wrapping our minds and hearts around the resurrection, I think it could be argued, is that it is the ultimate “showing up.” God could have risen and gloried from afar, but he came back. He showed up. Even to a doubting Thomas. Even to you and me.
To make our best attempt at fully living out that partnership, we need to do our “homework.” We must listen. And perhaps even more importantly we must make the effort to show up, and allow ourselves a little vulnerability for God to work on us, and in us, and through us.
We must seek out the living God, and then affirm him with our own unique, God-inspired expression of…
My Lord, and my God.