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2 Easter - John 20:19-31

Another week has gone by, and not much has changed.

The doors that were locked are now merely shut.

Thomas is with the disciples this time, having missed last week.

The sight of the risen Jesus, and his gift of the Holy Spirit, has apparently not moved the

disciples very much, which is why I suspect he returned at least as much for them as he

did for Thomas.

They are still in the same room, having basically the same conversation.

Peace be with you, Jesus says, and then he shows off his scars, and then the realization of who this is hits home.

Same story, different week.

Maybe the same is true in your home.

Once again, worship is on video instead of in, and the familiar walls separating you from

the outside world with all its fears are still the same.

For some folks, quarantine is almost as boring as church—same thing, different week, can we

leave yet?

For others, it is a welcome breath of rest and restoration like church—same reassuring morsel of comfort and familiarity to anchor a different week, can we stay here?

In times of high stress and change, ritual and routine are welcome gifts.

In times of boredom and restlessness, they can feel deadly.

In times of grief and loss and uncertainty, they can be as irritating and reliable as old friends. Wherever you and your head and your heart are, the story is essentially the same.

Jesus has broken through the distance—the impregnable six feet of death, the stone on the tomb, the locks on the doors, the injuries to his broken hands and side and heart.

He slips past the fears and comes to you and says, Peace be with you.

If you're here next week, he'll say it again.

When you die, he'll say it again, and then breathe new life into you, one ex-corpse to another.

Same story, different world.

Yes, there are variations.

One week Jesus gives his disciples the Holy Spirit, full partnership in his gospel firm, and

his unprecedented power to be utterly powerless—his power to forgive.

The next week he loops in Thomas and gives a blessing to those of us who come to trust him

without seeing him.

Please note, Church, that Thomas does trust Jesus, just not the people who talk about him.

I wonder if that is because he doesn't notice much of a difference in them.

For all their enthusiasm, they seem the same: same room, same closed doors, same need to

huddle together and have the same conversation over and over.

The story has changed, but has their behavior?

Of course, real behavioral change usually takes more than a week.

That takes reinforcement; it requires hearing the same life-changing words over and over again.

We say the same thing every week so that eventually we will come to believe it.

The good news is that Jesus keeps showing up, week after week, speaking peace.

He is patient and persistent.

As our fears remain, as death and lies and violence and cruelty rage on, as the world continues to be different variations of the same sinful mess week after week, Jesus slips through and arrives with holes in his hands, breathing words of wholeness.

Peace be with you, he says, directly and otherwise, in forgiveness and water and bread and

stories and songs, in other people or maybe on a screen, different ways, different weeks,

same story.

You are forgiven; share that with others.