What would it mean to “practice resurrection,” as the poet Wendell Berry exhorts us to do?* The poet urges us to learn this lesson day by day in our lives. Practice beginning anew. Practice setting aside old grudges. Practice forgiveness, defiance of an unfaithful status quo. Practice joy. And here, the old adage is true: practice makes perfect, or at least better. Resurrection is not simply a long-ago event. It is a call to faith in our own lives, a call to living into resurrection day by day, year after year.
It is not enough to know about the ancient story in today's reading that recounts Jesus’ resurrection. For such stories do not offer information; rather, they invite transformation. They call us to “practice” this in order to deepen our grasp of it—or its grasp on us. In this story, the apostle Thomas wants more than mere knowledge by hearsay. He wants to witness resurrection himself.
Thomas is not among the disciples gathered on the evening of that first Resurrection day, locked behind the doors of fear. He demands what any of us might have: Show me this truth, he insists; don’t just tell me about it. Show me Jesus. This demand is all well and good for Thomas, you might be thinking, but what about us living thousands of years later? How can we “see” Jesus, as Thomas demands in that first Easter season? Aren’t we the ones Jesus describes as “those who have not seen” and yet might come to believe?
What would it mean to live into the Resurrection story by practicing it in each act of generosity, welcome, and forgiveness by which we renew the world?
*“Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front,” in Collected Poems, 1957–82 (New York: Northpoint Press, 1994), 151–52.
Revealing God, open my mind and make me spacious enough to hear this Resurrection news, and say, “Yes! This is the truth that has the power to set me free from anxiety and fear.” Amen.
In the week following Easter, we reflect on the Resurrection. In Acts, Peter declares to his fellow Israelites that the story of Jesus is the fulfillment of promises made to their people long ago. He quotes Psalm 16, the second reading for the week, and applies it to Jesus. First Peter opens with a passage of extended praise for God’s mercy, and this is rooted in the hope that comes through the resurrection of Jesus. Yes, we may suffer in this life as Jesus suffered, but just as he is glorified, we will also one day be glorified in the Lord. John recounts a post-resurrection appearance to the disciples. All except Thomas have already seen Jesus, and here is Thomas’s first interaction with the risen Lord.
Read Acts 2:14a, 22-32. How do you practice living into the “ways of life”?
Read Psalm 16. What would change if you were to make requests for God’s protection a fundamental of your faith?
Read 1 Peter 1:3-9. How does the mystery of the Resurrection help you understand and love Jesus?
Read John 20:19-31. What role does forgiveness play in the way you practice resurrection?
Respond by posting a prayer.
I join many of those who will pray for you as you seek to discern what you are called to be at this moment. May God grant you the courage to fulfill that calling. May we all open our eyes and see the misery, open our ears and hear the cries of God’s people, and, like God through the Lord Jesus Christ, be incarnate amongst them.”
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