Jason Fisher, Champaign, IL

Warm-up Question

  • Name some reasons someone might lock themselves in their room?
  • What would it be like to live your whole life without leaving that room? What would you miss?

Opening Doors and Hearts

Kristen Berthiaume and her family live in Alabama.  They wanted to promote racial justice in their community. Seeing that  nationwide protests and demands for justice were often met with open racism and ignorance, the family decided to create an Anti-racist Little Library in front of their home. Kristen noticed that books about racial justice were high on bestseller lists.  So, she stocked their library with them, hoping they might educate their community and allow kids to see themselves in a wider variety of books.

Alabama Poet Laureate Ashley Jones was filled with hope when she found her book, Reparations Now!,” tucked inside the Antiracist Little Library. Jones is not only the first person of color, but also the youngest person, to be Poet Laureate of Alabama. 

In an interview, Jones shared, “As a Black woman in America, racism is absolutely inescapable. It shows up in all the little places and all the big places and all the places you don’t expect. Sometimes it’s in a textbook. Sometimes it’s in a purse grabbed as I walk by, sometimes it’s in a question about my hair, my skin. If anyone believes we have even come close to solving issues of racism and discrimination, they’re mistaken. If I’m afraid to go for a run, go buy a snack, go to sleep in my own bed behind my own locked door, we aren’t finished working yet.”

Discussion Questions

  • What is the last book you have read by an author of a different race, culture, or religion?
  • In what ways do books about other people’s experiences open doors to better relationships with them?

Second Sunday of Easter

Acts 5:27-32

Revelation 1:4-8

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 C at Lectionary Readings.)

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

Gospel Reflection

In this post-resurrection account we find the disciples hiding in fear behind locked doors, in a self-imposed prison. There is no life there, only the fear of death. They’ve spent years watching and participating in the life-giving ministry of Jesus.  Now they hide and cling to what can hardly be called life. Then, right in the midst of their fear, Jesus brings peace and proof, life from death–not locks and doors. After Jesus breaths the Holy Spirit on them the disciples can no longer stay in locked rooms; they go out and share with others what they have seen and heard.

A whole week goes by and they are again in the same house. BUT this time the doors are not locked. They are shut, but not locked. So, we could say they are making progress. Again, Jesus brings proof and peace, but this time it is for Thomas. Instead of rejecting him for not believing the other disciples, Jesus invites Thomas to touch his wounds.  And Thomas believes. 

John says Jesus did many other signs in front of the disciples which are not recorded.  Then he adds,  “…but  these are written in this book so that YOU may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have  in his name.” The very words of this Gospel are written directly to YOU that you might be set free and have life in Jesus’ name. Jesus frees us from fear. He frees us from feeling like we missed out. Jesus makes us look around and figure out who is not in the room with us so that we can invite them in.

Discussion Questions

  • Where have you experienced peace this week?
  • Whose experiences are missing from your life, and how might you reach out to touch (and learn from) them?
  • What do you need God to prove to you right now?

Activity Suggestions

Read a book, memorize a poem, listen to a speaker, or watch a movie created by someone who is a minority voice in your culture. Then ask yourself, “What are their wounds? Are there things to which I’ve had access that are denied to them?” Share what you have learned from that person with your friends and family.  Begin recommending resources that will challenge them as well. 

Closing Prayer

Think of something you are afraid of right now. Find a door that has a lock on it. Begin a prayer by holding onto the doorknob. 

Pray; “Lord right now I am afraid of….” (As you lift up your fear to God, lock the door.)

Pray; “Jesus give me your peace.” (as you ask for peace, unlock the door.)

Pray; “Spirit send me.” (as you finish the prayer, open the door and walk through.)