APRIL 13, 2018

It Snowed A Week Later

Dear Church,

A special thanks to my friend, Ray Ondrejka, for writing last week’s blog.  I was able to read it while I was at Cocina Beach on Anna Marie Island in Florida. I was enjoying spring break with my family where it was 80 and sunny EverySingleDay.  Ray’s words were a good reminder for us to be mini-versions of Jesus to those we encounter.  As one of my professors and mentors in seminary once said, “We might be the only Bible some people ever read.”  After a sixteen hour and fifty-minute drive home, my garage door opened on Monday morning to snow.  I really don’t think I was emotionally prepared for snow.  As I drove to the pool, still tired from the all-day drive the day before, I was almost in a daze not even sure what month we were in.  Did we just go back to February?  Was I really on a beach in Florida thirty-six hours ago?  The brightness and joy of Easter literally seemed like an eternity ago under the inch of snow burying the ground.  And I can’t help but think the disciples had to think that too.  Read what happened to them a week later:

26 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.’ 27Then 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.’ 28Thomas answered him, ‘My Lord and my God!’ 29Jesus said to him, ‘Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe.’

That’s John 20:26-29. Can you just imagine what the disciples were feeling and thinking?  Many of them had already seen Jesus in resurrected form on Easter Sunday.  Thomas had already boldly declared that unless he saw the marks of the nails he would not believe.  And Jesus had already come through locked doors to be with them.  Scared?  Amazed?  Confused?  Hopeful?  Probably “D.  All of the Above.”  And now, a week later, Jesus comes to them again.  The power of that first week had probably worn off and now they were trying to figure out what to do, where to go, and what to actually believe.  The fear of the present and the uncertainties of the future were probably like an inch of snow on the joy of that first resurrection morning.  I’m sure they wished they could have bottled up all the joy and energy from that first resurrection Sunday, but then it snows.  And I don’t know about you, but I wish I could hold onto the feeling, the lasting notes, the packed sanctuary, the joy that our God is Risen, but then it snows.

It snowed when I got a text from Norma Knopf that Ralph’s cancer is back, and he’ll have to go back on chemo. It snowed when I got an email that Gabby Gatlin was back in the hospital.  And it snowed when I got a call from a friend that her engagement was off.  A week later, it snows.  But the good news is that just like Jesus appeared to His disciples reminding and assuring them of His victory over death, He does the same for us.  He reminds and assures us through the gift of prayer and time in the Word.  He reminds and assures us in gathering around the kitchen table with loved ones and the Lord’s Table in Holy Communion.  And he reminds us and assures us when we gather together for worship and tell and re-tell the story:  Christ has died.  Christ is Risen.  Christ will come again.

The joy of Easter Sunday does not eliminate the presence of pain or suffering. It does not keep us from bad news.  It does not mean that it won’t snow.  But just like Jesus tells Thomas a week later, he tells us a week later: “Do not doubt but believe.”  Believe that the tomb was empty.  Believe that death was and is defeated.  So, while I loathe the fact that it snowed earlier this week, make sure that snow, whatever that snow is, doesn’t keep us from basking in the sunshine and glow of Easter.  He is Risen Indeed!

Grace & Peace,

Pastor Matt