In the little doorway between our kitchen and dining room we are making marks which capture a bit of the way in which time changes things.
Every so often we stand the kids up against the door jamb with their back flat to the frame and we make a short little pencil mark above their head and write their name out to the side of the mark.
The lines we’re penciling-in there on the door jamb are slowly inching up the wall little by little, and later on in life, these marks will remind us of how our family has grown.
This doorway in our kitchen does talk – it tells the story of how time changes things.
There is a door that tells us how God changes things.
Early on the first day of the week, the disciples come to the tomb and find the door of the tomb where Jesus was buried standing open. Peter and John run inside and see the folded graveclothes. They believe! And they run out to tell the news: Jesus is alive!
This door to the tomb stands open in the garden where Mary weeps tears of bitterness until Jesus appears to her, speaks her name, and turns her tears of bitterness into tears of joy.
This door, a stone rolled away from a grave, speaks, and tells the story of God’s love which shines light into the darkness of death, and makes a way where there was no way.
When we pick up the story in today’s gospel reading, it’s the evening of the day of Jesus’ resurrection. Earlier in the morning, Peter and John saw the empty tomb and Mary saw Jesus but now as night falls the disciples are in the house and the doors of the house are locked in fear.
But Jesus comes and stands among them and says, “Peace be with you.”
Just like the door to the tomb couldn’t keep Jesus in the grave, this door can’t keep Jesus from entering into the bunker of sadness and regret and disappointment where the disciples have quarantined themselves.
Jesus comes through the door to bring Easter to them – He comes to bring the peace of God, the Holy Spirit, and the gift of forgiveness.
And the gift of forgiveness in this moment is poignant.
If these disciples had any regret about how they treated Jesus… (We don’t know for sure exactly how they felt, but you almost have to imagine they did)… If Peter had any guilt about having betrayed his friend – it’s all gone when Jesus appears to them.
They see their forgiveness standing in front of them. They see Jesus and they rejoice!
We weren’t there, of course. We only hear this story. But we can imagine the relief.
And then there is Thomas. Like us, he is not present the first-time Jesus appears to the group, and Thomas has the reaction that some of us may have had at some point in our lives to the news of Easter.
He just is not completely sure he can believe it. He needs to see some evidence.
So, a week later Thomas is with the group when Jesus again passes through the door, again stands among them, again gives God’s peace, and this time, invites Thomas into this incredibly intimate moment: Jesus invites Thomas to touch the marks of the nails in his hands and asks Thomas to put his hand in his side.
Having touched Jesus scars, having felt the warmth of his flesh, having been given encouragement from the familiar voice of his fried, Thomas cries: My Lord and My God!
Thomas opens the doors of his heart to Jesus. Thomas doesn’t look through the peephole of his heart, or latch the little chain-thing they have in hotel rooms and open the door to Jesus part of the way.
Because he has seen convincing evidence, he throws open the door to his heart and lets Jesus come all the way in.
Jesus wants us to throw open the door to our heart and let him all the way into our life.
On Sundays, and on Mondays, and every day of the week. At work, at school, at home; everywhere; all the time.
Jesus comes to us to give us evidence of his love: in bread and wine, in water, in forgiveness, in the community where we have the words, “Peace be with you” spoken to us as flesh touches flesh.
Here Jesus comes to us to renew our faith and send us out into the world to be witnesses and as evidence of his Spirit alive in the world.
There is a famous image of Jesus knocking at the door. If you’ve never seen it you can google it. Jesus stands in front of a door, his fist raised, ready to rap away.
For many people this is a powerful image of the way Jesus comes to knock at the door of our life, asking us to let him enter all the way into our heart – to take up residence in us – in our thoughts, our hopes, our inner monologue, our friendships and families and relationships.
Another way to think about this same image of Jesus knocking at the door is to think about the way in which Jesus knocks at the door of our life and invites us out into the world, where he already is.
Jesus invites us out of the bunkers of fear we create for ourselves, out of the bunker of sadness and regret, out of the bunker of our own safety…Jesus invites us out into the world to be a people who tell of how we have been forgiven, and to grant forgiveness to people who wrong us, and tell about a God who mercifully offers forgiveness to all.
Thomas, who was slow to believe, Peter who betrayed him, and all the rest were invited out from behind the door of fear to be witnesses in the world of what they had seen.
They were called to be evidence of Jesus’ resurrection and they were. These same fisherman, tax collectors, and peasants who were complete failures before Easter, after Easter took the message out in the power of the Spirit so that communities of faith sprung up in cities and towns and by the side of the road and today, when we confess our faith, we know that we do so with 2 billion other people on this earth.
And today we are still sent out to live as evidence of God’s presence in the world. And let me tell you:
A young girl in our congregation was sitting at the lunch table with friends this past week when the group of friends started talking about what they had all done over spring break. “What did you do?” someone asked. “Well,” this young lady said, “We went to DC and because it was Easter we went to church.”
The other young girl said, “My family believes in God but we don’t have a church.”
And so this young girl from our congregation has made note of it and is wondering how she can invite her friend to church.
There is a woman in our congregation who talks about the Holy Spirit, openly, at work, to the team she leads. A colleague on her team is an atheist and has started joking with her, “Are you gonna say that was the Holy Spirit again?” …but he gave this woman an angel as a gift which shows the respect he has for her and, I think, the importance of their relationship to him, and that kind of relationship of mutual respect is the kind of relationship where I believe the Spirit can work to create faith.
There is a man in our congregation who says that at work he tries to take what he heard or saw in worship the past Sunday and work it into conversation to see if he gets a nibble… so he can expand on it and tell people more.
But as you go about your life – in your service and work and study and friendships – you are a witness. Sometimes people might just look at the evidence in your life through a peephole, or they might keep the slidey-thing on their door hooked and just peek out a little bit…or sometimes the Spirit may blow the door open as it did on Easter morning.
As the Holy Spirit sends you out of these doors today, the forgiveness of the risen Christ and the peace which surpasses all understanding be with you, guide you, and strengthen you.