Psalm 148, 149, 150;
Psalm 113, 114, or 118
Exod. 12:1-14** or
John 1:1-18** or
**Intended for use in the morning
***Intended for use in the evening
John 20:19-23: When it was evening on that day, the first day of the week, and the doors of the house where the disciples had met were locked for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.” After he said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord. Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.” When he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.”
Our lectionary tradition is that the direct proclamation of Jesus’ resurrection is to be proclaimed in the Eucharistic setting, so our Daily Office lectionary features later evidence of the Resurrection–this story, and the story of The Road to Emmaus. Another reading choice is to ponder God as divine Logos. If I were to craft a subtitle for this reading, I’d call it, “The doors were locked, but Jesus gets in anyway.”
I thought about the many times I perform my late-night ritual of locking and bolting my doors. Honestly, I never worry much about nighttime–I have seen times that I have not seen a vehicle on my road, save the mail carrier and the UPS truck, for over 48 hours–but yet I always lock and bolt the door before I go to bed. I have two dogs–one of them modestly large and with a track record of having bitten a stranger who behaved in a threatening manner–who bark every time someone comes up the road. But I still lock those doors. There have been times I’ve recognized the futility of it. If someone really wanted in the house, all they’d have to do is break a window. The only thing locking the door does is prevent anyone from breaking in quietly if I happen to be home. It would make a ruckus. Deep down inside, I know that if someone wants in my house, they can get in.
We lock our doors because we simply don’t want to make it easy for a perceived threat to appear by the side of our bed while we’re asleep. We lock the doors of our heart for the same reason, I suspect–not that we really think a threat can’t get in, but that it will make a ruckus, and that ruckus will give us time to figure out how we intend to deal with the break-in. Deep down inside, I know that what wants in, can get in.
In our story, the disciples have locked the door because they are scared to death, but I doubt they know what exactly it is that they are fearing. If it’s the Roman Army, it’s not like that locked door, or a shuttered window is going to keep them out. It might hold a Pharisee or two at bay for a little while. It might hold out someone who is looking to rat them out to the authorities. Yet the doors are locked even though by now, they’ve heard of the news of the Resurrection via Mary Magdalene. Is it possible they didn’t even want Jesus to show up unannounced? After all, this is the person who was just crucified three days ago. Someone might be looking for him to finish the job–and finish off anyone else who happened to be with him.
That said, we see how useless those locked doors were. Jesus shows up anyway–and the first thing he says is “peace be with you.” In short, when Jesus breaks in, he does it without a ruckus, and it’s to offer peace. Peace is only a threat when we’re not willing to accept it. If Jesus wants in, Jesus gets in.
Yet, I think in those times we lock our hearts and deadbolt them to the Peace of Christ, it’s because we have this notion that we’ve done something so awful, that we think for some reason Jesus is going to be angry with us…or perhaps we know that the Peace of Christ will be what’s offered and we are not willing to accept it just yet. We think we need some time to think it over.
Well, I suspect that our door-chained and deadbolted hearts are no more a deterrent for the resurrected Christ than the locked door was when he appeared to the disciples following the Resurrection. If Jesus wants in, Jesus gets in.
On this first, and most glorious day of the Season of Resurrection, and over the next 50 days, let’s all ask ourselves this question: What chains and deadbolts on our hearts just aren’t worth locking anymore when we accept the truth of the Resurrected Christ?
Maria Evans, a surgical pathologist from Kirksville, MO, writes about the obscurities of life, medicine, faith, and the Episcopal Church on her blog, Kirkepiscatoid