Here it is, a week after Easter Sunday. Our gospel reading finds the disciples in a scene that’s strangely familiar: self-isolating in a room away from social activity. In their case, it’s because they are still processing the empty tomb and the rumors that Jesus has been seen alive. They don’t know what’s been set into motion, and they are afraid. Suddenly, Jesus is there. Remember, every one of these men deserted Jesus after his arrest. (The women followed him, but they aren’t in this room.) So is Jesus angry? Quite the opposite. His first words are “Peace be with you.” Their fear turns to joy.
Today we’re self-isolating as a paradoxical way to look out for one another. Jesus is with us, as he was with the disciples, bringing peace and forgiveness. If that peace feels elusive at times, and we’re doubtful about being forgiven and embraced, we have the example of Thomas. He wanted to see a sign. You may have heard preachers criticize him for being a “doubter.” But pay attention to what Jesus does. He gives him the sign he asks for. And what does Thomas do? He sees it and is changed.
Sister Joan Chittister reminds us that “doubt is not a sign of faithlessness. It’s a sign of impending growth. We are always more mature when we come out of it.”
This week’s reflections and exercises are meant to help us look for signs of hope and resurrection. In the moments when you doubt that anything good will come out of this ordeal, don’t feel bad about doubting. Be prepared to grow spiritually.
And keep looking for the signs.
Director, Faith Formation & Education
Good News Project
During this time after Easter, which is usually called the Great Fifty Days, we would like to consider what is good about these days. And how is good different from great? We invite you to share your good news with us. Before Pentecost, we will collate people’s entries to share churchwide in a digital Good News Family Scrapbook. Feel free to enter more than one!
- For dinner table conversation: Has physical separation or the absence of people’s bodies created a different kind of presence? What or who do you miss most?
- For individual reflection: Have you witnessed anything “miraculous” recently?
- Pay attention to the world around you in an Easter way: Where are you finding signs of God’s living presence today? Watch and listen to Fr. Matt’s sermon.
- Share the good news of Christ in your life with:
- A photo you take (with or without a caption)
- A poem or prayer you like or write
- A link to a hopeful or joyful article
- A short story or essay
- Send your Good News, in any format, to ChristianFormation@trinitywallstreet.org. We would love to hear it!
For Children and Families
Please join us for an Eastertide Family Coffee Hour after the service. We will meet online from our respective “upper rooms.” All are welcome! RSVP to Kathryn Carroll before 11am on Sunday, and she will send you a link to join. And if you want doughnuts, here’s a simple recipe for cinnamon baked doughnuts.
Even though we can’t meet in person, Trinity Youth are still showing up for one another! Each week, Fr. Matt Welsch is hosting a weekly drop-in call along with Karla Chee-a-Tow, Jenn Chinn, and Damali Lewis. All Trinity Youth are invited to join us—whether you can stay for the whole call or just hop on for a few minutes when you’re able. Please text or email Matt for more information or to get the link so you can join the next call.
Right Now, We Need a Miracle!
by Kathy Bozzuti-Jones
The season of Easter in springtime invites us to consider what new life might be emerging in this time of loss and disruption. And yet, recently, in spite of how much I love this time of year, I awaken a bit cranky and out of sorts. In fact, since self-isolation began, I am reminded daily of my need to sit down and meditate, in order to quiet my mind and my body. Some days, it feels a bit beyond my ability to sit peacefully, though. And then I get to judging myself and…
So, I have a new prayer practice: Rather than wrestle myself to the ground (so to speak) or even “put on my best face,” I simply bring my anxiety and irritation and feelings of helplessness to God. I say, Here I am, God. This is what I got. Nobody knows me better than You. And we both know that I can’t do this on my own. So, I bring it all to You, offering the truth of my whole self — as it is today — with all of what’s going on, for You to transform in Your time.
That includes all my thoughts and my jumble of feelings. And it includes my questions, like: How can I overcome the urge to go back to bed? How can I overcome the urge to lash out, when I am out of sorts? How can I muster the energy to show up for my child, my family, my friends, when I am feeling depleted?
What I’ve discovered is that when I suspend my self-judgment, I can see that I am not being judged. God just sits with me, quietly, like a good friend, in the silence, with my questions, and in my confusion. What a blessing to know that it can be enough simply to say, God, I know you are here with me. I need your help. This is too much for me to do alone.
I have a friend who keeps an index card next to her bed, with her morning reminder. It says, “Help is on the way.” If only the disciples had had a reminder like that. If only we could remember it, in times like these.
There is certainly a lot we don’t know in this time of pandemic. But what we can be certain of is that God is always with us, no matter what — in the happiest of times and in the times of great uncertainty, God is with us. We know this because God loved us to the very end in Jesus — and came back to live in us and through us.
The disciples were huddled in a room in fear of the authorities, no doubt stunned and feeling that all was lost — and then along comes this miracle. Jesus was standing in front of them. They thought he was dead but he was alive. They felt the presence of God again. He didn’t give them a roadmap of the future, but they put their lives in God’s hands again. Right now, we need a miracle. We see terrible things on the news every day and there is no apparent roadmap. Can we be open to a miracle too?
Can we be open to an answer to our prayers — maybe not something quite so dramatic, but some small and quiet grace, a moment of gratitude, a creative thought that reminds us — yes, God is here. God has been here all along. And God is not going anywhere. We will get through this with God’s help. We can look out the window and be reminded that new life is what comes next!
May we experience God’s presence in our faithful connections, in loving our families and friends, in reaching out to neighbors, making that phone call to someone who is alone, in choosing kind words, in letting go, in being grateful — and when we get it wrong, may we experience God’s presence in beginning again. Do not be afraid, says the Lord. I am with you always. Let us be Easter people, people of hope. Our hope is in Love and Life, now and always. Amen.
- Praise Song for the Pandemic by Christine Valters Paintner
- Prayer for a Pandemic by Cameron Wiggins Bellm — “As fear grips our country, let us choose love.”
- The Big Question: Is Doubt Necessary for Spiritual Growth? by Hilary Ribons — “Is doubt a low point in the journey of faith? Or, is it a very necessary part of spiritual growth?”
- The Doubts of a Saint: Mother Teresa's Unfelt Faith from the Sisters of St. Benedict