4/28/2019 4:30:06 AM
April 28 - Grounding Prayer
Thomas has integrity. Before Jesus’ crucifixion the disciples often seem eager to please and impress Jesus and one another. But afterward they want to know what’s going on and they want to be grounded in it.
The suffering and death of their teacher, the loss of their dependable friend--this trauma has given them permission and authority to ask questions and expect true answers. Their experience has deepened their desire and their need for spiritual integrity.
And even as meeting Jesus built up the faith of the disciples, prayer grounds our faith. Prayer is our “Thomas experience” in which faith’s courage and hope fills us with integrity.
Jesus says to Thomas and the disciples, “Peace be with you.” Jesus tells him to set aside his doubt and believe. But believe what? To believe something about Jesus. . . , or to trust his presence? For Thomas and all the Saints, it is not enough to believe that Jesus is alive in some spiritual sense or that he was alive and then disappeared. No, the faith of the church has always been that Jesus is alive and he is present with us as God is present with us—now, and every day.
He looks different than when he was walking, talking, healing, listening, praying. But his voice is unmistakable. We must simply take the time to listen, to be still, to hear his “Peace be with you.” That is why we exchange the peace in worship. When we say, “Peace be with you,” we are echoing the words of Jesus and we are confessing that he is with us in this moment, as always.
Integrity of faith means God’s Love in Christ, Compassion, Justice, and Peace is right here.
We claim this and know this only because we have met him in prayer. We have heard the voice of God in prayer. It’s not enough to hear somebody else say, “My Lord and My God.” For it to be our faith, we must keep listening, asking questions, expecting truth filled answers. We cannot believe as someone else believes. We believe according to what we have heard from Christ in prayer.
Faith is always personal. We read of the faith stories of others in the Bible. But only through prayer do we learn our own faith story. That is what I hear Thomas, and Peter, and John saying of their faith in Christ. After hearing the voice of Jesus, Thomas says, “My Lord and My God.” Peter in Acts says, “We must obey God rather than any human authority.” [How else do we know how to obey God but by listening.] Finally, in Revelation, John proclaims grace and peace from Jesus Christ the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead, the king who is visible to all, who loves us and set us free. The book of Revelation is a vision, a prayer which calls us to pray.
The Easter season calls us to live in the life of our Risen Lord. This cannot be about believing what we are supposed to believe—what someone else believes or tells us to believe. We are invited to be in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ. To Pray. To Listen. To insist on a faith which is ours. To hear Jesus call our name as he called Mary’s, Thomas’, Peter’s names.
Keep listening as you are able to listen according to your gifts. The only requirement on your part is a commitment to invest the energy to remember that Christ is present. Christ is with you and in you in mercy, grace, and peace. Amen.