April 28, 2019

2 Easter

Acts 5:27-32; Psalm 118: 14-29; Revelation 1: 4-8; John 20: 19-31

The Rev. James M.L. Grace

In the Name of God: Father, Son, And Holy Spirit.  AMEN.

            Today is the second Sunday of the Easter season.  And on this Sunday, the reading that we always have is this story from the Gospel of John.  It is probably a familiar story to you – this story of Thomas the disciple who struggled to believe in the resurrection of Jesus.  That is, until, Thomas saw Jesus with his own eyes, and came to believe himself.  To this Jesus says, Thomas you believe because you see me with your eyes, but blessed are those who have not seen me and yet believe.”

            The later part of that sentence describes basically every person who somehow has chosen to believe this story of Jesus – that he died, and now mysteriously, lives again through us, and through the church.  A lot of us believe this, as much as we struggle with this.

            We are rational people, with minds trained to see things empirically. The idea of a person coming back to life after dying can be a real stretch for us whose observation of death does not match that hopeful description. 

            At a recent Bible study here at this church, a prayer was offered which said this: “God, help us to remember that the struggle to have faith, is faith itself.”  Let that sink in.  The struggle to have faith is faith itself.  Thomas no more doubted than any of us would or could.  He struggled to have faith, just like us. 

            And that struggle to have faith is faith itself.  

            Today, April 28, is not only the second Sunday of Easter.  April 28 is also Worker’s Memorial Day.  Workers Memorial Day is celebrated each year on April 28, the anniversary

of passage of the Occupational Safety and Health Act in 1970. It is an opportunity to remember and honor the people who are killed or injured in work-places, as well as a chance for people to recommit to making workplaces safer and healthier.

             More than 100 workers were fatally injured on the job in the Houston area during 2018. Some fell from heights, some were electrocuted, some were overcome by gases or were struck by equipment. On this Workers’ Memorial Day---in Houston, across the U.S. and the globe---we remember all people who die from work-related injuries and illnesses.

In 2013 Pope Francis offered these words regarding the necessity for safe working environments.  He said, “work is fundamental to the dignity of a person. Work, to use an image, "anoints" us with dignity, fills us with dignity, makes us similar to God, who has worked and still works, who always acts.”

            As people of faith, we have a moral obligation to stand for and defend those vulnerable workers in our city.  To do our part, St. Andrew’s today will dedicate all of our loose plate collection (that is, all cash and coin collection) to the Fe Y Justicia Worker Center here in Houston.  So, give generously.  We will also pray for those who died while working last year. 

            As a church, it is our job, as Mother Jones once said, “to pray for the dead and to fight like hell for the living.”  Today we will baptize six new members into the church.  We celebrate with them the beginning of their Christian journey alongside Thomas and all of us, to know Christ and to make him known.  Today encompasses the work of the church: to have faith, to pray for the dead, to baptize the living.  In all we do, may Christ be glorified.  AMEN.