Meta Herrick Carlson: The Sunday After Easter: A Blessing for Thomas - Church Anew

How are we connected to the disciple Thomas this Easter season during COVID-19? (John 20:29)

This week I offer a blessing for Thomas and for those who need to see to believe — not because their faith is weak, but because they feel dismembered by the [COVID-19] situation and cannot bear it all alone.

Honestly I spend the first few days of each week thinking about the characters in the Biblical text I am preaching on the following Sunday (John 20:19-31). My relationship with words requires a blessing to form before a sermon will. It grounds my process in empathy and curiosity for what their story reveals about God, my own faith, and the community in which I am preaching.

When I begin with blessing, I get the sense that the blessing is mutual and the character is with me in the process of finding a sermon. It makes the writing a little less lonely, especially during a global pandemic and church from home. My faith and leadership lean hard on the mysterious and spiritual elements of our tradition. I find comfort and courage in teaming up with characters across time and space.

The communion of saints is alive and well. Perhaps you are rediscovering this while we worship apart/together, discern whether and how to share sacraments from a distance, and how to connect and care as church both quarantined and unleashed.

It helps to remember we are not new to this. We have stories from Acts and the Epistles. We believe in the God who was, who is, and who is to come. We celebrate Jesus begotten from the beginning, in human flesh on earth, and seated forever on the Throne. The cast of characters stretches just as far — and every week I am blessed by a few who remind me we do not bear these things all alone.

For Thomas

They won’t stop talking,
remembering, celebrating
what they have seen —
the grand miracle I missed.

We are all on lockdown,
but I alone am lonely.
They are one living body
and too much to bear.

So I do not bear it at all.

Out of faithful solitude
and sore defiance,
I announce what I need
to mend and live:
my eyes on his wounds,
my hands in his side.

It is a single breath
and a lifetime but then
he appears, reaching for me.

I see his wounds,
our tender stories tangled
together, affirming
my quiet and achy hope.

His suffering contains mine.
His body remembers and
re-members my whole life.
And still I touch them to feel
what I already know is true:

There is no bearing it alone,
though I may try,
for now my story is written
in the hands and side of
the One who bears all things,
the One who Lives.

Meta Herrick Carlson

The Rev. Meta Herrick Carlson (she/her/hers) is a pastor and writer living in Minneapolis, MC. She serves a two campus congregation all learning how to let go and lean in for the sake of a shared future. At this time, Meta is safe at home with three children who cannot ration snacks. Meta’s first book Ordinary Blessings: Prayers, Poems, and Meditations for Everyday Life proves a worthy gift in these uncertain times. Her second book Speak It Plain: Words for Worship and Life Together with more ordinary blessings and resources for church nerds and liturgical communities is scheduled for publication fall, 2020.

Used with permission. Originally posted on Church Anew, a ministry of St. Andrew Lutheran Church in Eden Prairie, MN.