Today's reading from John is always read the weekend following Easter. It sets up a decisive dichotomy between the joy of the empty tomb on Easter morning and the darkness of the locked room on Easter evening. The disciples may be alive in the after-glow of the resurrection, but they aren't living the resurrection. They have quarantined themselves away hoping to avoid any more confusion, anguish, persecution, and pain. Because no matter what happened at that tomb - who can even explain that (?)- the reality of suffering and death creep quickly back to the forefront of the disciples' minds and hearts, pushing Easter out.
Feeling pain and suffering is not optional for human beings. It is undeniable. Our bodies bear scars which witness to the fragility of our flesh and the limitations of the body. And our hearts bear deep wounds which testify to the brokenness and beauty of human relationship and intimacy.
Even the resurrection of our savior Jesus doesn't defend and shelter us from this truth.
And so today, while I could talk about the doubts of Thomas, or the breath of the Holy Spirit, or the peace of Jesus which passes all understanding... what I really want to talk about is Jesus' body.
There are many ways Jesus could've come back:
He could've returned as an ethereal ghost or a luminescent angelic being.
He could've returned in a brand spanking new body, smooth and perfect. Or as a thunderous voice on high.
Or, He could've returned as a woman.
I mean, I have thoughts on other ways God could've done this... But Jesus did none of those things.
He came back wearing skin - the same wounded, pierced, blood-stained, frail, broken flesh that he was buried in. Besides the fact that He was now alive, Jesus appears to them and everyone else he meets following the resurrection exactly as He was when he was laid in the tomb.
It's an odd choice by God to proclaim the resurrection in a wounded, scarred body.
Our bodies say something to the world about who we are and how we feel...giving us away sometimes without our consent.
Twisting one leg tightly around the other, reveals to the world that we feel insecure and unsafe;
Or that moment when someone really looks you in the eyes and your body reveals the time your head was sliced open on the bottom of a slide at 8 years old;
Or those fast flushes which climb up your neck, rapidly burning your cheeks red with embarrassment revealing your nervousness and anxiety.
Or you've lost hair, gained or lost weight, bruised your hip that hurts when you sit too long and so your shift uncomfortably...
Your smile, tears, and laughs express emotion before your words ever do.
Whatever it is, our bodies tell on us... prophesying to the world that something is going on with us, whether it be good or ill.
I think this is why Jesus showed the disciples his hands and his side. Certainly there was an aspect of 'it's really me' to it, but I also believe that the wounded, yet resurrected Christ tells the world what is going on with Him and His body prophesies to the world how it is to live in the resurrection.
Jesus' body highlights the depth of his willingness to enter into our world. His body tells us that it won't be an airbrushed life - with the rough edges smoothed out and the flaws covered up.
As Easter people, we still live in a crucifying world - nails are hammered into justice, spears are plunged through the hearts of love, mercy and kindness hang dying with their last breaths, and disease and suffering entomb our days...
It is no wonder the disciples closed themselves away from the world.
It is no wonder that we often want to do the same.
Even though the curtain was torn, and the veil was lifted, and the universe shook, and the stone was rolled away, in the aftermath of the resurrection Jesus' body was still wounded, telling us that we must lives from our scars; from our wounds.
And so, Jesus invites us, as he invites Thomas, to touch his hands and to place our hands in his side, which seems... oh, a bit dramatic and gory, except that Jesus' wounds are entry points to God and doorways to new life.
I imagine my fingers tracing his body finding some marks and scars from years gone by, having healed as much as they will...
And some wounds I touch are fresh and tender, still open and raw and bleeding...
The closer I get to Jesus, the more I touch him and enter his wounds, the more I realize that what mars His body are our hurts and pains. To touch Him is to touch the world.
And so, maybe the faith question that we are asked today is, "Whose flesh are you touching? And whose flesh are you recoiling from? And maybe, whose flesh are you burning?"
I need to touch those wounds and know that pain, because otherwise I couldn't or wouldn't begin to touch or look at the pain of the world, or the sadness in another's eyes, or the hole in my heart.
In small and large ways this truth resurrects my life every day. Keeps me present in my body and reaching out for Jesus' body.
Years ago I read a book about different types of spiritual practices, and someplace in that book the author talked about the 'art of wearing skin.' The focus was more on learning to love and accept and care for your body because God loves all of you.
, as I was thinking of this passage, I could not help but think about that phrase, 'the art of wearing skin.' Jesus wears skin beautifully. I love words and the word 'beautifully' does not do justice to how I envision and experience Jesus wearing skin, but I don't know what the right word is. Maybe it doesn't exist. His willingness to wear skin even after the resurrection is simultaneously evocative, brilliant, heart-breaking, and challenging.
It compels my heart and lips to declare, "My Lord and my God," mostly because I need Jesus to get that living in the resurrection isn't easy, or at all how I envisioned it.
And it hardly resembles last weekend.
But, 'My Lord and my God,' here you are with that scar above your eyebrow and your leg twisted about you and your cheeks flushed red and tears streaming down your face...
And you have lost your hair, and gained a little weight, and age has settled in your eyes...
'My Lord and my God,' you have taken it all on, wearing us as your body.
This too resurrects my life... every day. May it resurrect yours also.