Knowing the Risen Christ through faith
- Acts of the Apostles 2:14a, 22-32
- Psalm 16
- 1 Peter 1:3-9
- John 20:19-31
We may not see the risen Christ but we will know the risen Christ as we gather in faith-filled community on the eighth day.” Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe. (John 20:29b)
Many call this day “Doubting Thomas” Sunday. Since Thomas was absent during Jesus’ appearance to his disciples after the resurrection, Thomas experienced doubt and was looking for a safe expression for his sorrow. He gives an ultimatum, “Unless . . . , I will not believe.” Often such words becomes the desperate language of our prayers. An ultimatum is the last straw, often before violence, as in a threat – “Do this or else.” Jesus upends Thomas’s “or else” with a great surprise. We see this in the above painting by Caravaggio (1597), as Thomas places his fingers in Jesus’ wounded side.
John, the gospel writer, steps out of the Bible and into the room to speak to us in verse 31: “But these are written so that you may come to believe that Jesus is the Messiah.” How have we come to believe? We find encouragement and wisdom in the stories of others’ faith. C. S. Lewis, first a scholar, much later a believer, eloquently explores his conversion in his 1955 book Surprised by Joy.
The Collects for Easter petition the living power of Jesus to open up new life to all. Our prayers and action can reflect God’s desire for a renewal of faith and reconciliation for all.
During the Easter season, we can direct our attention in prayer to alleviate the extreme poverty of the world. The Christ-centeredness of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) is an example of how making a commitment to others is a commitment to Jesus (John 10:10). For the sake of the poor and suffering of the world, our conversion (turning our lives around) at the individual, congregational, diocesan, national, and global levels can make a difference (Luke 18:18-23).
Soon (April 25) we will recognize World Malaria Day. World Malaria Day represents a chance for all of us to make a difference. Whether you are a government, a company, a charity or an individual, you can roll back malaria and help generate broad gains in health and human development. Reducing the impact of malaria is key to the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals, agreed by every United Nations Member State. These include not only combating the disease itself, but also goals related to women’s and children’s rights and health, access to education and the reduction of extreme poverty.
Focus on one MDG for the whole liturgical cycle (remember, Easter lasts 50 days!), a particular geographic area can be chosen to learn about the people, worship, and need in that area of the world or domestically. The Easter season can be a time to build direct relationships with another location in the Anglican Communion. Enter into mission with one another, to help alleviate extreme poverty.
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