“You have to manipulate the scar.” Nearly three decades ago I had cervical neck surgery requiring a horizontal incision on my neck above the collarbone. Post-surgical treatment required physical therapy. The incision, the entry point for the surgeon’s skill, had healed but left a stiff, uncomfortable scar. When I told the physical therapist about this discomfort, she asked, “Have you touched your scar?” I said, “No, I am repulsed by it.” I have never forgotten her reply, “You have to manipulate the scar.”

Thomas has no such hesitation about scars as he encounters the news about Christ’s resurrection. “Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands, and put my finger in the mark of the nails and my hand in his side, I will not believe,” he says. Thomas is “all in” with this Resurrection news—as long as he can manipulate the scar.

One problem with Christian faith is our tendency to over-spiritualize. We speak of divine things and holy things and things of heaven, but too often we disconnect them from things of earth. Jesus taught in parables to make the infinite finite. When Jesus taught his disciples to pray, he taught them to ask, “Thy kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven” (emphasis mine). Jesus breathed on the disciples. Breath is what you have when you’re alive and what you don’t when you’re not. Christianity that promises only “pie in the sky when you die by and by” robs resurrection of its power in the world in which we live. Like manipulating a scar, earthy faith isn’t always pretty. Yet it is the connection between the spiritual promise of eternal life and our daily life in the physical world.

Repulsed by your scars? Try a little of Thomas’s boldness.

Lord of life, fill us with gratitude for physical life as a portal to appreciate the joys of life eternal, that we may glorify the One whose resurrection secures it forever, even Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Pray the Scriptures Using Audio Lectio
Read John 20:19-31

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Lectionary Week
April 5–11, 2021
Scripture Overview

Easter promises us the possibility of new life in Christ, but what should that life look like? Scripture makes clear that one sign of union with God is unity with each other. How wonderful it is, the psalmist says, when there is peace among brothers and sisters. Unity and peace do not mean simply the lack of conflict but proactive care for one another. The Christians in Acts lived out this care in a practical way by giving of their material means to help one another. John in his epistle tells us that this fellowship is ultimately modeled on the fellowship we share with God and Christ, while in his Gospel, John teaches that belief in Jesus the Messiah is what binds us all together in this new life.

Questions and Suggestions for Reflection

Read Acts 4:32-35. In what ways does your Christian community extend generosity to those within and those beyond the community?
Read Psalm 133. How do you experience God’s extravagant love for you? What is your response to this love?
Read 1 John 1:1–2:2. What experience of Christ have you “heard . . . seen . . . looked at . . . touched”? How do you share your experience of the risen Christ with others?
Read John 20:19-31. How do you relate to Thomas’s desire for tangible proof of the 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.” 

View a growing list of resources for the spiritual work of overcoming racism.