Saturday, April 15, 2017

Daily Devotion for Lent 2017 - Day 40, Holy Saturday

Today's Reading: John 20:1-31 (NRSV)

We have the resurrection!  We are a day early but in order to get all of John finished by Easter Sunday, the schedule necessitated chapter twenty on Holy Saturday.

As we look at this entire chapter, we can see that we have the encounter with the empty tomb by Mary Magdalene and then by Peter and the beloved disciple.

Then we have three appearances of the risen Lord.  The first is to Mary Magdalene and then we have an appearance to the disciples sans Thomas and then one where Thomas is present.

As we look at this, we can see how our spiritual lives may have an individual encounter with God in some way as well as one in a group context such as worship.

For our personal encounters, we may want these to last longer or come more frequently. We hear Jesus tell Mary, "Do not hold on to me."  This doesn't mean that we shouldn't seek to encounter God but it may mean that these encounters are beyond our control. We would like God to operate on our time but that is a bit egocentric.  God operates on God's time.

There's something symbolic
about a lighthouse that fits
with John's Gospel!
We see this again as Thomas misses out on the first appearance.  What's interesting is that the other gospels have instances of doubting from multiple disciples and yet John only points out poor Thomas.  I think this story reminds me that different people encounter God in their own time - maybe in God's time which seems to depend on the person.

As we seek to serve the living Christ, it may be that we each have our moments where we don't recognize him or we doubt he is there at all. That is the value of being in a faith community. We lift one another up with a vision of what we could be as a Christian.  We know we are not always there but we can at least see where we are trying to go.  For those that aren't ready yet, we bring them along with us.

You'll notice that just becomes Thomas doesn't believe the way they do, they do not kick him out of the group.  He is still present the next week when Jesus returns.  We hold one another in the faith and sometimes we believe on their behalf until they may come to the faith themselves.

Prayer for the day:

Gracious God, even when we are in the darkness of death, our brothers and sisters in the faith remind us that "this perishable body must put on imperishability, and this mortal body must put on immortality."  We do this in the resurrection of Jesus Christ.  This allows our spirits to cry even in the face of grief and loss, "Death has been swallowed up in victory.  Where, O death is your victory?  Where, O death, is your sting?"  We pray this in the name of the Living Lord.  Amen.

Prayer based on 1 Corinthians 15:53-55
Photo by Louis Raphael via  Used under the Creative Commons license.

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