CeCee Mills, Greensboro, NC

Warm-up Questions

  • What is your greatest motivation?
  • What gets you going in the morning or through a challenge?
  • What gives you the greatest energy?

Finding Hope

A year ago, we were all adjusting to an interruption. We expected that things would soon go back to normal. None of us imagined the loss of so many big milestones in the lives of students across the country. In-person school went away. Spring break went away. Proms went away. Graduations went away. Sports went away. So much that was a part of everyday life just went away.

The pandemic hit us so fast and so hard, we were initially just waiting for it to go away. But it did not go away. It still has not gone away.

The way we will get through the rest of the pandemic is by looking for the glimpses of hope. I search for evidence of God’s resilience and love. It helps me. Hearing about acts of kindness, seeing God’s creation, noticing small miracles, and marking progress of any kind are beacons of hope and light for me. Sometimes it is a random picture of a puppy or a powerful scripture.  Maybe it’s an inspiring quote or the voice of a friend. I thank God for these daily reminders of God’s wonderful abiding presence.

Discussion Questions

  • What new habits have you or your friends began to help deal with life in a pandemic?
  • How can you create new habits to help you see God’s presence every day?

Second Sunday of Easter

Acts 4:32-35

1 John 1:1—2:2

John 20:19-31

(Text links are to Oremus Bible Browser. Oremus Bible Browser is not affiliated with or supported by the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. You can find the calendar of readings for Year B at Lectionary Readings.)

For lectionary humor and insight, check the weekly comic Agnus Day.

Gospel Reflection

In the Gospel reading, we see the new reality the disciples face with Jesus’ absence. They are afraid and in hiding. The life that took them to strange lands with a teacher who performed miracles and spoke with true authority is over. Like us in this pandemic, they hope this scary time will end. The disciples hope that those who killed Jesus are not looking for them anymore. They want to stop feeling anxious everyday and worried about dying. They want their Rabbi back.

Then Jesus comes into their midst and lets them explore his wounds. Jesus relates to his disciples through the evidence of his suffering – it is their confirmation that he is the risen Christ. He breathes on them and gives them a new dose of hope. They do not return to the life they had with Jesus or the life they had before following him – they enter a new season. It is a post-resurrection season where they continue God’s mission without Jesus’ physical presence.

They have to let go of the yearning to go backwards and look at what lies ahead. It must have been amazingly hard to let go. It must have been amazingly wonderful to see Jesus again and witness the signs. It must have felt like confirmation of their call to be disciples. Jesus gives them the hope they need to complete their journey.

Jesus still does that for us. He fully recognizes the likelihood that we will hide our faith if we think it will offend or attract unwanted attention. He knows this and allows us seasons like Lent to focus on the wounds of Christ, so that we understand the cost. Yet that season is followed by the resurrection joy of Easter, which reminds us that by those stripes we were healed for a new day. We journey into the future, fully aware of the shadows, but expecting the illuminating light. We know God knows our questions and doubts. 

Jesus acknowledges the disciples fears as he accommodates Thomas’ need to touch the wound. And God knows your questions and doubts. They do not surprise God because God knows the full story. God knows the hope you need to keep you on your journey.

Discussion Questions

  • How does God confirm who God is with you? Is it a song? Or a feeling? Is it by words or images?
  • Once you get that confirmation, how can you share that experience with others?
  • How can you help others to see how God provides confirmation for them?

Activity Suggestion

Pay attention to how you experience, witness, or feel hope during this pandemic in the next week. Share that hope with two people who are close to you and one who is not so close. Begin to imagine why God keeps you hopeful. How do you see God using you at this time to share the hope of Christ? Create a tangible object or picture that can be a reminder of the hope God provides. Put it in a place that is most helpful for you to see it and be reminded.

Closing Prayer

Dear God, you are so patient with us, even when we have lost patience ourselves. Thank you for abiding with us at all times and giving us hope in you. Help us be aware of the ways you reveal yourself and the ways you are present with us. Help us to share that with others. Amen