As I’m writing this, I’m forced to admit: I might have a problem with books. The desk in my study has a few dozen books stacked on it, all looking for a home on one of my already overcrowded bookcases. Volumes of sailing and woodworking, novels recommended by friends, essays and natural histories; a broad representation of my interests and hobbies. If you came to my house as a guest and perused some of these piles, you would get a reasonably accurate snapshot of who I am. Perhaps you’ve got some piles or shelves like this in your home.
I recently preached on one of the closing passages in the Gospel of John. The disciples have seen the Risen Christ, and Thomas doubts because he was not there to see the marks in Jesus’ hands and side. After Thomas comes to believe, we get a break from the gospel and its message of Resurrection, and the author addresses the reader directly: Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book. But these are written so that you may come to believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that through believing you may have life in his name.
I appreciate that the author acknowledges that there is more to this story, to God’s story (as understood through Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection), then can fit in one book. We know that there were many more gospels written than simply the four which have made it into our Bible. There are gospels that claim to tell the God’s story through the eyes of Peter, or Thomas, or Mary Magdalene, even the Infant Jesus. Centuries of Christians have understood these texts in various ways: from the belief that some should be enshrined in our canon, to the belief that some are forgeries and fiction.
We are a Resurrection people, an Easter people; shaped by the impact that Jesus has had on our lives. Each of us could write a book of our own, telling the stories of our faith through countless viewpoints. Yet even if we did so, there would still be more to be said: tales and trials and triumphs. We follow a God who offers new life, a chance to keep telling and hearing our own stories of faith. So, this Easter season, I pray that you feel the power and the presence of God moving in your life. Like Peter and Thomas and all the others, we are called to be disciples, we are called to be witnesses, so that through our stories, others might come to believe. What stories are in your book?
- Pastor Jon