After a time comes another . . .

Second Sunday of Easter, April 7, 2013

“After a time comes another.”  So says Minnie R., wisely, I think, repeating a saying that clearly names it like it is.  After a time comes another.

Palm Sunday.  Maundy Thursday.  Good Friday.  Holy Saturday.  Easter Sunday.  After a time comes another.

After Jesus’ time of living and dying and rising again, the time of doubt comes for Thomas.  “Unless I see the wounds in his hands and side,” Thomas tells his friends, “and touch those wounds, I will not believe.”   And it’s always surprised me how graciously, how generously, how easily Jesus responds.  “Just do it,” he says.  “Go ahead and touch.  Put your finger right here and see my hands.  Reach out your hand and put it in my side.”  A week after Easter, when Thomas’ faith is tested, Jesus reveals himself.

Today on this turning point of a day, also week after Easter, with Thomas we might have some doubts.  And with Minnie R., we might be saying, half believing it, “After a time comes another.”

When I first came to St. Mark’s in 1995, there were lots of people in church most Sundays.  The first Sunday I preached on the Gospel about about a wee little man named Zacchaeus.  Even in my highest heels I could barely see out of that big pulpit.  Right away Lloyd N. made me a carpeted box to give me a boost.   In those days, pastors sat in a big, ornate presiders’ chair, facing away from the people.  I had to wiggle out of that chair and jump down because my feet didn’t touch the floor.  I was scared stiff to do children’s sermons.  After a time comes another.

In the early days, there was cancer, but no Regional Cancer Centre next door.  The goats and chickens hadn’t moved in to KCI yet, and Calvary Memorial United was just another church in town.  Wednesday nights were for Lenten potlucks.  Early weekday mornings were quiet in the church.  No smell of bacon.  No KCI students, teachers and church folks mingling in the kitchen.  No prayer shawls.  No Worship Band or BLAST.  No Stephen Ministers or Home Communion Ministers.  No same sex marriage.  No exchanging greetings with Ethiopian friends in the halls.  No computers at the church or email or website.  No security alarm.  After a time comes another.  But not always easily.  Emily W., you hadn’t even been born yet and now you’re seventeen.  How did that happen?

In the bigger picture, September 11th was just another day on the calendar and green the colour of the worship book.  We weren’t talking about terrorism or climate change.  Premier Mike Harris was just getting going with his “Common Sense Revolution”, cutting government support for social services and schools and health care.  Autism was a condition I read about in graduate school.  After a time comes another.

On a personal level,  My daughters were still in university.  Robert and I were empty nesters.  We didn’t know the love our grandchildren would bring into our lives, into our home.  My mom and Robert’s dad were still with us along with hundreds of others we’ve said goodbye to here at St. Mark’s.  After a time comes another.

When Jesus first meets Thomas, Jesus is a thirty-something preacher and teacher and healer, recently baptized, recently tempted, recently sent out for the life of the world.  When Thomas first meets Jesus, for his part, he’s just Thomas, one of the gang.  Nobody’s given him that painful label “Doubting Thomas” yet.  Besides, there aren`t any wounds in Jesus’ hands and side for him to touch yet.  After a time, comes another.

Today we’re gathered together in one time that’s on the way to another.  My sense is I’m not alone in these last hours of being your pastor, having a mix of feelings today.   Enter the crucified and risen Christ, right here in our midst, with a disarming longing to show himself to us, to show us his wounds,to give us the peace that’s way beyond our understanding.   We need this wounded, risen Christ and the peace he offers.  And we need flesh and blood signs to remind us that he’s here with us.  Signs we can see.  Signs we have been so blessed to have seen together, through the eyes of faith.

As we take important steps today to say goodbye and let go, as we begin to move into another time, no matter what we face, may Christ continue to surprise us with signs of his love for us and signs of his participation in our world.  May he burst through doors that are still closed and flood the changes and the challenges of our lives with his love.   And then with Thomas, may we continue to exclaim “My Lord and my God,”when we see Christ`s hands in each other`s wounded hands,when we see Christ`s heart in each other’s wounded hearts.

This is our hope, and this is our promise.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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