Once upon a time in Jerusalem there was a church and Jesus blew through it like a breath of fresh air.
The church didn’t have many members and they spent much of their time timidly staying behind closed doors. We know the names of a few of them.
There was Mary. She was really fond of Jesus and had supported him on his travels from the time he had come into her life. But his death had really hit her. The story goes that she was in the garden where he’d been buried when he appeared to her.
Obviously she was thrilled but he was having none of it. He wouldn’t let her touch him and kept her at a distance. He told her he was in some sort of transition. So she had to think of him differently. He was no longer Jesus of Nazareth. The last thing he needed was to be a fondly remembered Rabbi from Galilee. She had to leave behind her early attitude to him.
He could tell that she was being convinced and told her to go the other church members and tell them that she was sure that he was still around. They would be so surprised that it was her saying this that they would lifted out of their grief.
Then there was a member called Thomas. He liked to have his prayers answered. He wouldn’t be convinced unless Jesus himself responded to what he wanted. On this occasion he got what he wanted and then was put in his place by Jesus.
Thomas was given the proof he required to believe that Jesus was free of death. His prayer was answered. But Jesus pointed that there would be many future church members who would not have prayers answered and they were among the fortunate. Why?
I wonder whether it is because faith is relying on what cannot be seen with the eye. It flourishes in our very depths where light and shadow struggle with each other and find themselves overwhelmed by a gracious compassion that is beyond their control.
Faith is a gift we all have but needs to be activated to start re -creating us.
There was another church member. He was a restless soul and took some of the church away from Jerusalem and back to his roots in Galilee.
He was called Peter. He and Jesus went back a long way. Peter had been alongside Jesus right to the bitter end. He journeyed with Jesus away from his home ground. He’d listened to many of his parables and watched the healings but Jesus had always unsettled him. Peter knew that for all his faithful talk he could be inconsistent and not above putting Jesus in his place. He had ended up disillusioned – maybe with Jesus but more certainly with himself.
So meeting Jesus on the beach where they used to pull up the boats when they first met was quite a shock. It was even more of a shock when Jesus told him that he needed all his experience. Jesus needed him to put all that they’d been through in to the hands of the new church members who would come along. It would do them good.
Jesus had come to him like a breath of fresh air flowing across cool water. Peter realised that this would be more than shooting the breeze. His life still had purpose. He had been given it back by his Lord.
I believe most churches have a Mary and a Thomas and a Peter among them. I have been wondering what the Risen Christ might do with them in a church which gave him space to move and was the sort of community which he could inhabit.
This is a re-telling of their story from the last two chapters of the gospel according to John.