Disciples in hiding and amassing obstructions
to faith as they are tightly locked in a room,
and gathered less together
than gathered separate in their fear.
Something about them, something raw and sweaty
rank and unwashed, cowering and unashamed
about this small group as they wait
in their unabashed terror.
The ones who got rid of Jesus
were looking for them.
The powers of church and community
murder on their minds
were on the prowl—hunting,
and hunting them.
What was it?
A movement in the air,
a difference in the light,
a sense of power and courage
in their midst.
And then Jesus was with them, and
relief, joy, celebration, and peace…
And then what is it for us in this room,
as we wait here gathered with all our
obstructions to seeing Jesus?
What do we bring here
that inhibits our faith?
John 20:19-20 — The Voice
On that same evening, the followers gathered together behind locked doors in fear that some of the Jewish leaders in Jerusalem were still searching for them. Out of nowhere, Jesus appeared in the center of the room.
Jesus: May each one of you be at peace.
As He was speaking, He revealed the wounds in His hands and side. The disciples began to celebrate as it sank in that they were really seeing the Lord.
How many times do we sit around and amass obstructions to our faith? Manufacture, amass, accrue, brainstorm ways that faith is silly, not possible, unrealistic, was more for those in that first Easter to Pentecost to Constantine time when the Holy Spirit was building the church, but not for now. I’ve heard it said that miracles don’t happen in a post-apostolic church, that we need to leave our emotions at the door and only bring our brains to church. I have heard it strongly implied that if we believe in faith healing that we somehow are denying the power of science.
When God is understood as having no power or will to overcome the Principles humans have devised to explain their scientific facts, then it is a God unlike the God Jesus called “Abba,” and in whom I believe. When faith claims that the power of sin demands that God must give up God’s own grace, invent hell, and condemn humans to that hell for sin, then that God is not worthy of my worship. If any human is so sinful that their sin becomes unforgivable, and therefore stronger than God’s grace, then I think that I will look for another giver of grace. I expect other humans to do right by me, why should I not expect the same from the God I worship and in whom I place my faith?
Faith is the armature on which Christianity revolves, it is the fulcrum on which the Christian church balances, faith is the tightrope across which we walk as we move from the beginning of our lives to the end, and faith surely is the Mystery upon which our spirits thrive. Yet more basic than faith is God’s love as expressed in grace and forgiveness. I do not believe that there is any power more efficacious than God’s love, more perduring than God’s forgiveness, or more confounding than the awesome mystery in which all humans live and breathe.
Humans seem to live in fear, and construct boxes in which they can safely contain that which they fear. We need to find order in an order-less universe, and mollify our deepest fears and scariest demons. Putting the unknown into these boxes make humans feel safe— even from God! Humans are good at attempting to order their realities in ways that keep what they fear controlled and contained, and small enough to be manageable, but they are really bad at pulling it off, yet they keep right on trying.
AND what do these boxes look like? Because we humans have demons and angels and gods and demigods, and horrors under our cosmic beds, and all sorts of other things that go “bump in the night,” we need religions, philosophical, theological, legal and scientific systems in which we can place our faith. This is how we deal with the unanswerable mystery that is our journey through life.
In the midst of all this Jesus walks into the room and says, “May each of you be at peace,” and reveals to us the very thing about which their faith quibbled the most. In the scripture he reveals the wounds in his hands and feet and side, but I think there will be a different revelation for each of us when he walks into our room.
Our task then, if we have the courage, will be to ask, what is it about Jesus that we are least able to bring ourselves to believe? Is it his aliveness in our own time? Is it that he rose from the dead? Is it that he can reach out of wherever it is he exists and heal or touch or love us? Or is it that he can shake the foundations of our pre-modern, modern, post-modern understanding of the possible and do whatever he wills regardless of whether or not we believe? What will it be for you? Will we just go on amassing obstructions, or will we, can we… Believe?