April 28 2019
Easter 2

Let everything that breathes praise the Lord!

I have been to worship in places that exult in loud noise. I prefer to connect with God more towards the middle of the worship balances rather than the ends of, “Be still and know,” and “…loud clashing cymbals.” However, we are all different and variety can be the spice of worship.

I need to hear, “Peace be with you.” before and after clashing cymbals. Peace or shalom bring us wholeness in all aspects of being, so important for the disciples in the locked upper room that it is said three times within seven verses. The sight of Jesus brought rejoicing (praise) from the disciples. But Thomas wasn’t there.

The disciples message to Thomas of “We have seen the Lord.” echoes the message of Mary Magdalene earlier in the gospel of John. Thomas’ requirements for belief echo the actions of Jesus with the other disciples in his first visit. The first day of the week in verse 19 and implied in verse 26 echoes the day of resurrection.

“…Do not doubt, but believe.” Thomas doubted no more than his colleagues. Doubt itself can be important in the deepening growth of faith. In the presence of Jesus, Thomas’ response is worthy of explicit mention rather than hiding in the generality of rejoicing.

“My Lord and my God!”

What might our words be in the physical presence of Jesus? What are our words in the presence of Jesus?

Peter and the apostles turn a courtroom into a place to tell the story behind their actions and words and a declaration that they must obey God rather than human authority, a slur against the integrity of the court. No wonder they prompted rage from some in authority. Gamaliel, a person of good will and probably good sense, short circuited the conflict so that a sentence of death became flogging and a repetition of the order not to teach in the name of Jesus. Peter and the apostles rejoiced (praised God) that they were considered worthy to suffer dishonour in Jesus’ name.

Where do we place the boundary between obeying God and the civil authority? On what basis? When have we ever praised God for getting into difficulty?

For John the Revelator the language of prayerful worship is laced with story, powerful images and political subversion.

Grace to you and peace from him who is and who was and who is to come…