Baruch attah adonai elohenu melech ha-olam.
Blessed are you, Lord our God, ruler of eternity. Amen.
* * *
we will begin on page 491 of the Book of Common Prayer
Dearly beloved, we are gathered here today to remember the life of our brother Jesus.
Our brother Jesus who once said:
“I am the Resurrection and I am the Life, whoever has faith in me shall have life, even though he die. And everyone who has life, and has committed himself to me in faith, shall not die forever.
“As for me, I know that my Redeemer lives and that at the last he will stand upon the earth. After my awaking, he will raise me up; and in my body I shall see God. I myself shall see, and my eyes behold him who is my friend and not a stranger.”
Our brother Jesus is dead.
I talked with brother Thomas yesterday and he said a curious thing to me—he said
“What’s it gonna take for you people to admit we were wrong? He’s dead! You’re all blind.”
We’re all grieving, maybe Thomas more than the rest
It’s easy to say that everyone’s got to go sometime—Moses died, Sarah and Rebekah, the Prophets, John the Baptizer, St. Ignatius, Julian of Norwich, Oscar Romero—we know this—but how do we deal with the pain?
We want to shut out what we’ve seen, the horror of Jesus’ execution
We want to fill in the hole that his death has left in our chests
Thomas has been weeping for days, angry, denying, he’s retreated into himself, refusing to eat or associate with us
For our part, our faces are beginning to ache from the false smiles we wear
pretending that everything is going according to plan
that we are not being hunted
that no one is hungry
that women and children are not still beaten by their husbands
and that Jesus absence is only temporary
he’s gone to get reinforcements
We are blind—going through the motions of life, our eyes squeezed shut so we can’t see that he’s not here
A part of us is dead, gone—we closed his eyes and buried him
that day we were baptized—was it only a few weeks ago?—
we went down to the Jordan
the sun was bright, so bright we couldn’t see
But there was a cooling breeze
And we waded into the water to meet this Jesus
Not knowing what we were getting into
and one by one we went under the water
thinking it was a lark
and one by one we arose, our eyes wide and shining with love and tears, our hearts full
And where did that get us?
We didn’t know what was coming
Even then we were blind
How could he abandon us like that?
Was it all a dream?
Is Thomas right to ignore us?
Maybe he’s asking the same questions:
The things Jesus said…were they real and as powerful as they felt? Or were they just clever?
This life he called us to
is this really where we’re supposed to be?
This relationship we had—it was a living thing, greater than either of us wasn’t it?
Did he ever really love me?
Last night…I still don’t know about this…last night we saw Jesus
I mean, we thought so—It’s all a little foggy, like we were watching through mist—I don’t know, the doors were locked and all—course he always used to surprise us with his comings and goings so…
And he blessed us and he looked at us all and he kind of sighed and (I don’t know) I kind of felt better, like some of the hole was gone
I don’t know—it’s crazy
But tonight—somehow we got Brother Thomas to stay with us
He wouldn’t listen to us when we told him about before
—and he was sitting in a corner, arms folded, eyes closed, looking like he’d gone to sleep angry
And suddenly, Jesus was there
And blessing us and we knew last night wasn’t a dream and he walked over to Thomas and he said
“I am the Resurrection, Thomas, I am the Life”
And Thomas opened hiseyes
And they were full of tears and love and so…so wide…
And Jesus said,
“Thomas—here are my wounds, touch them.”
And Thomas arose, shedding the layers of grief and doubt, letting the waters of his baptism flow down his cheeks
—and he remembered all he had seen and done with this Jesus, all the words
—and he didn’t touch him (not then anyway)
And he said,
“My Lord and my God
I know that my redeemer lives
And my eyes behold him
Who is my friend and not a stranger
My Lord and my God.”