Even in our pain and grief, there is hospitality in Christ
Hello, AAMA! I bring greetings from Azle Christian Church, where I am honored to serve as their new Senior Minister. Our church has been predominantly online since last March (with a smattering of in-person events), and it has been an adventure to come into this role in the middle of a pandemic.
As spring appears, we are beginning to think about how we will return. How will we honor the grief and trauma of this past year while also celebrating reunion and restoration? At times like this, I am grateful that our gospel texts give time and energy to both inclinations. Our church is guided by the Revised Common Lectionary for our sermon texts each week, and April 11’s lectionary selection is John’s testimony of the risen Jesus appearing to Thomas and the other disciples.
I have always resonated with Thomas—in part because of his doubt, but also in part because he will not let his grief be patched over without serious inquiry into the claims of resurrection. The dubiousness of Thomas makes a lot of sense to me — he had just seen this man that he had loved and followed taken by the authorities and killed a few days before. Thomas had lost hope, not necessarily because he had such little faith, but because he had good reason to despair.
But when Jesus saw Thomas, he invited Thomas to touch his wounds, to put his hand in his side. In the space that pain and suffering had created in Jesus, there was space for Thomas’s doubt. There was space for his grief, his reluctance to believe, and his desperate need to be reassured. There was, and still is, a hospitality to Christ’s wounds.
In the spaces in our lives that have been hollowed out by grief and despair this past year, there is room. Perhaps we don’t yet know what that space will hold. Perhaps that room is already being filled with new guests and companions. Perhaps that room is still being expanded. Whatever the case, may we trust that there is not only emptiness in the expanse carved out by grief, but also a hospitable space to be filled with the new thing Christ is doing in each of our congregations, in the community of Azle, and in the world God loves.
I look forward to meeting you all soon!
Rev. Ashley Dargai