Second Sunday of Easter May 19 Vanderbilt Divinity Library Lectionary

Easter B 19 May 10 2009 Textweek

Acts 4:32-35; Psalm 133; I John 1:1-2:2; John 20:19-31

In the name of God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, Amen

Thomas makes an entrance into the narrative of Easter. We have an affinity with Thomas; we can understand where he is coming from because Thomas opens up the dilemma of faith and doubt. Or is that projection? Should that actually read, ‘I have an affinity with Thomas, for I know the place of doubt’? I know it well, and it wouldn’t take much psychoanalysis to reveal that my priesthood is primarily constructed from and on doubt: the doubt of Thomas and the denial of Peter are easily and readily evidenced. And alongside doubt there is faith. As I read through the readings for today, I was delighted at the place of faith that they illuminated within and I’d encourage you to take these three readings, take time during the week, just read them again; but read them as if you’d just come across them as you were walking through a forest or woods; just read them as if you were in a place you’d never been, and read through them.

The first reading from Acts: ‘Now the whole group of those who believed were of one heart and soul, and no one claimed private ownership of any possessions, but everything they owned was held in common. With great power the apostles gave their testimony to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and great grace was upon them all.’

Once again I’ve got two quotes that I’ve taken from the news. The first one is from ABC Rural News:
Traditional owners in the Kimberley region of Western Australia have given the green light to a proposed multi-billion dollar gas plant north of Broome. The deal struck between the Kimberley Land Council, the WA Government and gas company, Woodside, will see traditional owners receive a compensation package worth a billion dollars over 30 years if the project goes ahead.

The second one, which is related to the first, is from a media release by the Kimberley Land Council:
Kimberley Traditional Owners have today given in-principle approval for the site of the proposed Kimberley LNG hub at James Price Point in North Western Australia.
The in-principle decision has come after 16 months of consultations facilitated by the Kimberley Land Council to ensure development in the Kimberley comes with the informed consent of Aboriginal People.

There’s a romantic view of the Aboriginal people as a spiritual people, a people of the spirit who do not own the land, but rather are at one with the land. Well, that’s certainly not where they’re coming from now. Projection again?

Projection can provide us with a positive reference point when it is reflected back, because it can illuminate the source. We know, or can call the untruth in regard to Aboriginal spirituality because we know the same untruth in our own. The same is true when we project our terrorism onto Muslims; we can do that so easily because we know that place, we know where that comes from. We know it when we project our protective oppression onto the state of Israel; we know it when we project our greedy self-interest onto the U.S. empire. Because we know it, we know those untruths within ourselves, and we know the untruth in ourselves because we live in the questions of Thomas.

The reading from Acts is not a rule of life; it’s not a socio-political manifesto; it’s not there to stir up guilt; it’s not there to suggest that you all go home and sell your homes and bring the cash in and lay it at the altar (or preferably deliver it to the door of the Rectory!). It’s not about that: it illustrates an orientation or a way of being. It speaks of a community in truth and a community that has an integrity of life. And that reading from Acts captures the narrative of Thomas – a realisation of life lived in faith. Thomas was holding on to his world, and then there was a movement, a realisation, and Thomas answers: ‘My Lord and my God’. He comes from a completely different place; he comes from the place of his resurrection.

The second reading from 1 John is in a similar vein. Here the revelation of Christ is declared an orientation towards eternal life and to a joy that is complete. Go through the reading and it speaks of fellowship - living in and living with God, living in and living with Christ, living in and living with the world; a living that is born out of the process of Easter. The leaven in the lump, the yeast in the flour enables the whole to rise. The seed dying to itself, dying to its being a seed, rises as a new being, a growing entity that bears fruit for others to harvest.

The two readings beautifully lead us into the dialogue with Thomas, a dialogue that is set in a place of fear behind locked doors – that’s us in front of our television sets. The breath of Christ, the process of creation is given movement. Thomas was not there; Thomas was not there. A week later Jesus came and stood among them and spoke – the word became flesh. Once again this is the very process of creation and Thomas moves, he moves from doubt to faith, from tomb to womb. Beautifully, that third reading, the gospel and that movement in Thomas, leads to the Acts of the Apostles. There’s a delightful sense of that process then unfolding.

So over to you, Thomas!
Peter Humphris