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The Rev. Dr. Karoline Lewis The Rev. Dr. Karoline Lewis

The Rev. Dr. Karoline Lewis is the Marbury E. Anderson Chair in Biblical Preaching at Luther Seminary in St. Paul, MN.

Member of:

Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

Representative of:

Luther Seminary, St. Paul, MN


Karoline Lewis: The Courage to Ask

John 20:19-31

2nd Sunday of Easter - Year C

April 28, 2019

 

Ah, Thomas. Always the Sunday after Easter. Always and forever. And forever mis-named the Doubter.

I wonder if anyone remembers that this is not the first time you've requested something of Jesus. I imagine most of us don't. Why? I suspect that it's because we are so captivated by your disbelief so as to validate our own.

So thankful for your so-called need for proof because it justifies our deepest desire for evidence of an empty tomb.

So admiring of your willingness to speak up for what you need to believe because for the most part, we are all too comfortable in our allegiance to and acceptance of doctrine and dogma that means nothing to us, if we are completely honest.

So, we don't speak up. We don't speak up for the things we need, the things owned us, the things that matter, the things promised to us, the things about which we think we can't or won't speak up. Because who will listen? Will anything change? So, we stay silent. For ourselves. For others. In shame. In guilt. Someone else will say something, right? Surely someone else will speak up.

Someone else will stand up for injustice, for discrimination.

Someone else will stand up for those abused. For those who have no voice. For those who can't breathe. For those lives that matter.

Someone else will stand up against false claims about religious freedom.

Someone else will give voice to what I feel and know and want.

Someone else will speak up for me.

Yet, Thomas. Thomas! You said no more to silence. No more to sitting on the sidelines. No more to unworthiness. No more to not being enough. No more to self-questioning. You said no more.

No wonder we can hardly remember, or try not to anyway, your first request of Jesus.

This is what I like about you, what I admire about you, Thomas. You ask for what you need. For what's owed to you, yes. For what you deserve, yes. But more so, for what Jesus had already promised you. For what Jesus promises every believer. You have a good memory, Thomas.

Back in John 14 to be exact: Jesus said to you, "'And you know the way to the place where I am going.' And you said to Jesus, 'Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?' Jesus responded, 'I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you know me, you will know my Father also. From now on you do know him and have seen him.'"

I wonder what you thought after that, Thomas. Maybe you took Jesus seriously. Maybe you thought you could. So, when your fellow disciples say to you, "Guess what, Thomas? We saw the Lord!!" (the same thing that Mary Magdalene said to the disciples, by the way) you had to be thinking to yourself, "Well, that's great! Mary, now you! Jesus did say he was the way. I remember that. And when we were talking about the way, well, I remember! Jesus said he was preparing an abiding place for me, for us. That's what I feel.

So, here's the thing. Mary saw the Lord. All y'all saw the Lord. It's not that I need proof. I just need to be with him. Because that's what it means that he's the way, right?

Jesus' way is not that which discriminates. Jesus' way is not that which disregards. Jesus' way is not that which discards. Jesus' way does not mean I'm left out. That's not how I heard it anyway. I didn't know where he was going and I didn't know the way. And so, I asked. And then, he said he was the way. He was the way. Not he was the way.

I just need to be with you Jesus. To touch you, feel you, see you, hear you, taste you. One more time. I need to feel that abiding place again, I need to feel the way, again. Missing someone isn't about how long it's been since you've seen him or the amount of time since you've talked. It's about the very moment you are doing something and wishing he was right there with you. Because, like Mary, it's so hard not to hold on, it's so hard to let go. One more time. Please. Just one more time?"

I think that's what you thought, Thomas. I think that's what you needed. I think that's what you teach us all. Ah, Thomas You show us the way, Thomas, and really, you knew it all along. You knew the way was not a roadmap. You knew the way was not a claim meant to exclude others. You knew the way was not that which you could use to reject others.

Instead, you knew the way was being in the presence of your Lord and your God - and that's all you wanted. You wanted what Jesus said you knew. You asked for what Jesus said you should. You needed what Jesus said is yours - to abide with him - always.

And in that moment, in that abiding, you saw Jesus as your Lord and as your God.

Thank you, Thomas, for your courage to ask.

 


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