Christ is risen, but fear remains. The first day of the Resur-
rection, the first day of the world made new, is marked not by joy but by fear. The disciples hide away—not overcome with celebration but with terror. The particular fear John names has a direct tie to the Gospel writer’s time and place. It has no bearing on our own time except for its having inspired generations of horrific anti-Semitism, which makes many more fearful.
We know too well from our own lives what it feels like to be too afraid to move. Christ is risen, but there is still doubt. We know what it is to be uncertain and full of worry.
So into this fear, this doubt, and this worry, Christ shows the disciples his hands and his side. He speaks to them, breathes on them, and brings the whole group joy. Except the one who wasn’t there.
And not being there, Thomas didn’t see, feel, or receive. He just wants the same experience as the rest. He doesn’t want extra proof or special proof. He simply wants what has already been given to his community. And Jesus appears again to offer Thomas his hands, his side—and his peace. And once again the group is united in experience and belief and joy.
Yet discord has been part of their community even after Christ has gifted them with the Holy Spirit. Division has entered and fractured their unity. They struggle to understand their different experiences of the world.
What fears keep you locked away from the world? What doubts and differences sow discord in your community?
Living God, breathe your peace upon me and all who surround me. Make me an instrument of your peace in the world; strengthen my heart in the face of anxiety and fear. Amen.
Easter promises us the possibility of new life in Christ, but what should that life look like? Scripture makes clear that one sign of union with God is unity with each other. How wonderful it is, the psalmist says, when there is peace among brothers and sisters. Unity and peace do not mean simply the lack of conflict but proactive care for one another. The Christians in Acts lived out this care in a practical way by giving of their material means to help one another. John in his epistle tells us that this fellowship with one another is ultimately modeled on the fellowship we share with God and Christ, while in his Gospel, John teaches that belief in Jesus the Messiah is what binds us all together in this new life.
• Read Acts 4:32-35. In what ways have you experienced the generosity of community?
• Read Psalm 133. How and where do you experience the wild, extravagant love of God?
• Read 1 John 1:1–2:2. How do you keep ever before you the urgency and joy of Easter?
• Read John 20:19-31. What fears keep you locked away from the world?
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