In a few minutes, we will pray: Pour out your Holy Spirit, and breathe new life into Andie Mae.
We are asking that she receive the same gift Jesus gave to his first followers, a group of grown men huddled in fear behind locked doors who would become celebrated for centuries as heroes of the faith.
The Holy Spirit changes things.
It is, after all, the breath of the formerly dead.
It is the life force of the God we thought had been successfully killed.
It is a power we cannot pinpoint, predict, comprehend or control, which is probably why the church in the global west has so little to say about it.
The Spirit turned cowards into missionaries and martyrs.
It turned failed disciples into forgiven ambassadors.
It turned losers behind locked doors into the leaders of a movement that spans the globe and two thousand years.
And now it's about to get into Andie Mae.
What should she expect?
It's impossible to know, of course, but the gospel story is written to give us some clues.
As the Father has sent me, Jesus says, so I send you.
Andie Mae, you are being empowered to follow Jesus into the world with the life-giving power of God's love.
This means one thing you can expect is scars.
Look at his hands.
Even in resurrection glory, when Jesus is transformed into a body that effortlessly enters locked doors and is not recognized by his closest friends, the scars remain.
The wounds of true love run deep.
The world punishes people who love the wrong people the right way.
That's what you are being sent to do, along with forgiving those who hurt you for it.
You are being sent to enter dens of fear with a word of peace.
You are being sent to invite and welcome others like Thomas who are not with you this week.
Speaking of Thomas, you can also expect doubts.
I hope you have his courage to question things other people tell you about God and life.
I hope you have his courage to be outside the doors, out in the dangerous world.
Resurrection is just one of many things in faith and life that don't make any sense.
Question, poke, prod, push back: dare to doubt; it's the best way to come to believe.
If you are now beginning to second guess baptism, good.
Paul writes that being baptized into Christ means being baptized into his death—which includes scars and doubts, misunderstanding and loneliness, questions hanging in silence, the excruciating pain that is sometimes the cost of love.
This includes the pain of forgiveness—letting go of the wrongs to hold onto those who did them.
If Jesus' story is any indication, baptism includes offering peace to the same so-called friends who denied, betrayed, and abandoned you when you needed them most.
It means finding ways to bring peace and life into a world addicted to violence and death.
It means bringing love to shuttered hearts that cannot trust it.
Baptism sets you up for rejection, frustration, and pain.
And it leads you to the utter glory of absolute joy, so the struggle is more than worth it.
Andie Mae, there is so many more wonders and worries and stories and surprises ahead of you that are not written in this sermon.
These are written so that you might grow to trust Jesus and his odd, misunderstood, beautiful way of love, and in trusting might have life in his name.
This trust, Martin Luther reminds us, is not something you can muster on your own.
It is a gift given, you guessed it, by the Holy Spirit.
In a few minutes, we will pray: Sustain Andie Mae with the gift of your Holy Spirit.
She'll continue to need it, as we all do.
The world into which God sends us all is daunting and desperately needy.
The call of God and the cross of Christ are terrifying.
Fears and doubts and scars abound.
Life is hard, and so is death.
The Holy Spirit can handle both.