Second Sunday of Lent
When it was evening on that day, the first day of the week, and the doors of the house where the disciples had met were locked for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.” After he said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord. Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.” When he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.”
But Thomas (who was called the Twin), one of the twelve, was not with them when Jesus came. So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord.” But he said to them, “Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands, and put my finger in the mark of the nails and my hand in his side, I will not believe.”
A week later his disciples were again in the house, and Thomas was with them. Although the doors were shut, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.” Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here and see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it in my side. Do not doubt but believe.” Thomas answered him, “My Lord and my God!” Jesus said to him, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe.”
Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book. But these are written so that you may come to believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that through believing you may have life in his name.
Something to Do
He breathed on them
Perhaps you, like me, have noticed that Jesus did not have to worry about social distancing! And perhaps you, like me, have noticed that you miss breathing with other people.
When we sing or speak together in church, we breath together – matching our sound-making out breaths and our replenishing in breaths. On-line community doesn’t really allow us to breathe together.
When we gather as a small group for conversation, we pay attention (whether consciously or not) to one another’s breath as it gives us cues about who wants to speak next and when someone is done speaking and how people are reacting to what they are hearing. On-line community doesn’t really allow us to attend to one another’s breath in this way.
But even though we aren’t breathing in the same room and we ARE still breathing together – and our breath is not just the air that goes in and out of our lungs. Our breath is the very breath of God, the Holy Spirit breathed into us and upon us. So, this week, breathe with the knowledge that we breathe as one.
Breath Prayers – This is an ancient prayer practice (dating back to at least the 6th century) in which the prayer Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me a sinner is prayed to the rhythm of deep, slow breathing. Over time, and in other cultures, the practice has developed to allow for other words but the principle is the same: a simple phrase which orients you towards God and the need you are bringing forward. Consider these possibilities:
Jesus, Risen Lord, give me your peace.
Holy One, let me feel your love.
Source of all being, draw me into your presence
Creating God, create the world anew.
Thomas’ doubts are entirely understandable – it’s not like his friends believed in Jesus’ resurrection without seeing him for themselves! Thomas’ doubts also don’t make him unacceptable to Jesus – who makes a special visit just for him.
As with Thomas, so with us. Doubts are an understandable and acceptable part of the life of faith and should be welcomed by our families and faith communities as expressions of genuine learning and searching. Doubts neither interfere with God’s love for us nor our love for God.
This is an especially important lesson for children and teenagers – but is a good reminder for all of us all of the time. Take the time to name your doubts this week and offer them to God in hope and trust that the truth will be revealed to you in good time.
Something to Wonder
“Peace be with you”
What does peace feel like?
Are you finding peace hard to come by? Or are you finding a greater peace in the current situation?
Either way, what is bringing you peace in these days?
“Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe.”
What do you believe without having seen?
What has led you to believe those things?
Something to Learn
The Meaning of Peace
Peace is a simple word for a big idea. The Hebrew word that gets translated as “peace” is shalom, which contains ideas of wholeness and harmony and well-being. Watch this Bible Project video for a word study on Peace: https://youtu.be/oLYORLZOaZE
Something to Pray
Holy God, we do not always understand your word or your ways.
Give us wisdom and imagination and courage as we learn and grow.
The story this week has made me wonder about…
(what questions are still on your heart?)
Receive my questions and help me hear your answers.
The story this week has filled me with…
(how are you feeling?)
Accept my praise, heal my hurt, ease my worry.
The story this week has reminded me of…
(are there situations or people you are thinking of?)
Be with all who are in need of you.
In Jesus’ name, we pray.