John 20: 19-end
After hearing todays Gospel reading, I expect we feel a bit like the disciples. We are all at this time in lockdown. Our doors are closed, and our churches are locked. We are not fearing for our lives because of an uprising, like the disciples were, but from the fear of something unseen. Like them we are in a time of the unknown, something we can’t control. We don’t know the outcome. Our doors are physically shut, but are our hearts?
A week ago on Easter Sunday we celebrated the resurrection. However there comes a time, when we must live the resurrection and that is not always easy. Whether we are living in the times of Covid 19 forced to stay in, or in ordinary times, there are always days when we prefer to just stay in bed, pull the covers over our head, and close out the world. Some days it just seems easier and safer to lock the doors of our houses and avoid the circumstances and people of our lives. Sometimes we just want to run away, hide, and not deal with the reality of our lives.
Each time we shut the doors of our life, our minds, or our hearts we imprison ourselves behind those ‘locked’ doors if you like. For every person, event, or idea we lock out, regardless of the reason, we end up locking ourselves in. That is what has happened to the disciples in today’s gospel. It is Easter evening, the first day of the week, the day of the resurrection, the day they saw the empty tomb and the day Mary Magdalene announced, “I have seen the Lord.” The disciples are gathered in that house, and the doors are locked with fear. A week later they are in the same place. It is the same house, the same walls, the same closed doors, the same locks. Nothing much has changed.
Jesus’ tomb is open and empty, but the disciples’ house is closed and the doors locked tight. The house has become their tomb. Jesus is around, and the disciples are bound in fear. The disciples have separated themselves and their lives from the reality of Jesus’ resurrection. Their doors of faith have been closed. They have shut their eyes to the reality that life is now different. They have locked out Mary Magdalene’s words of faith, hope, and love. They have left the empty tomb of Jesus, and entered their own tombs of fear, doubt, and blindness. The locked doors have become the great stone sealing their tomb. They have locked themselves in. And so for us the doors of our tombs are always locked from the inside. All this, and it has been only one week.
So, one week after Easter, how are our lives different? Where are we living? In the freedom and joy of resurrection or metaphorically speaking behind locked doors. How is our life different after Easter? And if it isn’t what are the locked doors of our life, our heart, our mind?
When John describes the house, the doors and the locks he is speaking about more than a physical house with walls, with doors on hinges, and fastened locks. He is describing the interior condition of the disciples. And so, the locked places of our own lives are always more about what is going on inside of us than what is going on around us.
So I wonder, what are the closed places of your life? What is it that keeps you in the tomb? Maybe, like the disciples, it is fear. Maybe it is questions, disbelief, or the conditions we place on ourselves or on our faith. Perhaps it is sorrow and loss. Maybe the wounds are so deep it does not seem worth the risk to step outside. It may be anger and resentment or the inability to open up to new ideas, possibilities, and change.
Jesus is always entering the locked places of our lives. He comes if you like ‘eastering’ in us. That is unexpected, uninvited, and sometimes even unwanted he steps into our closed lives, closed, hearts, closed minds. Standing among us he offers us peace and breathes new life into us. He doesn’t open the door for us, but he gives us all we need so that we might open our own doors to a new life, a new creation, a new way of being. This is happening all the time.
Whatever our own circumstances or the circumstances forced upon us at this time, Christ stands among us and his people saying, “Peace be with you,” breathing life into what looks lifeless. He is there amongst the families of this place who need help from the foodbank. In the midst of that feeding Christ enters saying, “Peace be with you. He is amongst those in our community who are grieving in these difficult times. Those saying goodbye to loved ones in ways that they couldn’t possibly imagine. Yet Christ enters saying, “Peace be with you. The winds of change are blowing. His breath carries them through the day, one day at a time. Just as it carries each one of us.
Regardless of our circumstances or of those around us, Covid 19 or not, Jesus shows up bringing peace, offering peace, embodying peace. Regardless of the circumstances Jesus shows up bringing life, offering life, embodying life. Life and peace are resurrection reality. They do not necessarily change the circumstances of our life and world. The hungry still need to be fed, and loved ones will die. The life and peace of Jesus’ resurrection enable us to meet and live through those circumstances. He steps into those locked places and gives us his peace, his breath, his life, and the ability to unlock our closed doors and then sends us out. He enables us to be free to unlock the doors of our lives and step outside into his life, resurrection life.