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Being There When Jesus Shows Up

This Sunday most churches will look at the text of the story of Doubting Thomas. He missed the risen Christ because he wasn’t there when Jesus showed up.

Roger Gench, pastor of The New York Avenue Presbyterian Church in Washington, D.C., talks about the reality of resurrection within the community of saints, saying:

I have learned to believe in resurrection because of remarkable communities who have lived the resurrection faith-communities that have struggled to forgive and be forgiven in an unforgiving world; communities that have labored to live non-violent activism in a violent world; communities that have contended with the boundaries of life in a world that excludes and marginalized; communities that have cared for the dying while affirming that death will not have the last word; communities that have celebrated life at a baptismal font and have come to a table time and time again, having learned that life is a gift rather than a possession-communities, in other words, that have struggled to risk and to live life in the risen Christ.

Thomas almost got left out of that miracle. Perhaps his grief had been too great. Perhaps his cynicism had kept him away. Whatever it was, when Jesus showed up, Thomas wasn’t present. Someone once said, “I’ve never been to a service that I didn’t get something out of … but I’ve had some close calls.” I know that feeling. I also have known those times when I thought the service or sermon was awful, only to have someone come up in tears testifying to the miracle God had worked.

My lesson from that has been that, wherever I find myself in life, my first job is to be fully present. You never know when or where Jesus might show up, and you sure don’t want to miss your own encounter with resurrection.

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