St. Mark's Episcopal Church

124 North Sylvia Street - Montesano, WA, 98563

Easter 2, April 7

I brought my clay figure of two sets of hands-some of you have seen them before, I’m sure. I bought them years ago when Lorraine and I went to a sacred spaces workshop at the Grunewald Guild-after this our altar table was moved to much consternation of some of the members. Later we did a more thought-out and organized shift to what we have now. And, where the altar table sat was a matter of perspective and past experience. And, I think when we look at this sculpture, which is quite remarkable when you see the details in it, each of us may see something different.

I have brought some of the things I have displayed with these hands when I have it at home. To me, my first reaction to this

sculpture was the way we support children who come to Camp Victory so the items I have on it are mementos from camp. There’s a butterfly which is in the Camp Victory logo and depicts the transformative value of camp for our campers. There is a heart that is a gift from the girls’ camp each year. It is always received after being held by someone else who puts good thoughts and well-wishes into it before passing it on. There’s a painted rock that I decorated while sitting next to one of the campers in the craft room. There’s a wood disk that says “brave” that one of the boys awarded me for something I did that I don’t remember-but I remember him! We do a lot with our hands at Camp Victory: we shoot arrows, we do crafts, we reach for the sky and the Earth,

we point at eagles and freshly-caught fish, we eat good food, we hold hands and we lift one another up. And, we always ask permission before touching anyone with our hands. These are healing, supporting hands when I think of Camp Victory-the big hands are the Mama Lions who volunteer and the little hands are the children who come to camp.

Another perspective is that the larger hands are the hands of God supporting anyone of us in our ministries. Hands are important.

Today’s readings bring an image of open hands. The Reverend Martin Smith wrote: “In the resurrection we see the hands of God, hands that hold us in existence, pierced by unimaginable nails.” Open hands so we can see

the wounds-so Thomas can see the wounds. Supporting hands-not clutching hands that would tell us we can’t be trusted.

Think back to a time when one of your parents let you do something on your own-they were supporting your ability to do things yourself. Perhaps the first time a parent lets go of a baby who is learning to walk-or when the baby is first able to sit or hold its big ol’ head up itself. But none of us would remember that from the infant’s viewpoint.

Or, the supporting hand when we were learning to ride a bicycle. The instant when the parent sees the child has the balance and momentum to propel the bike forward without that clutching hand on the back of the seat. The hand opens and lets go. Risky when

one considers stopping on a bike is a learned skill, too.

Or, the first time the teenager is allowed to drive a car alone. Do you remember how frightening and exhilarating that was? There was something both bizarre and validating about being out alone in a car. Your parents trusted you. You had their auto insurance to cover you but you were out there on your own, remembering all the rules of the road-on your own. Deciding what route to take-on your own.

Jesus comes into a locked room to talk to the disciples-soon to be apostles. He shows them his open hands-the fresh wounds from the piercing nails. In The Message it says the

disciples were exuberant to see Jesus with their own eyes. Jesus says, “Peace to you. Just as the Father sent me, I send you.” There are open hands in that line. Jesus wasn’t holding tightly to these followers-he is sending them off with his hands open. They didn’t go to Galilee as Jesus had directed them, so he came to them.

“Then he took a deep breath and breathed into them. ‘Receive the Holy Spirit,’ he said. ‘If you forgive someone’s sins, they’re gone for good. If you don’t forgive sins, what are you going to do with them?” [The Message]

When Jesus breathes into them, they become part of him and his ministry in a new way. The training wheels are off! And, we become part

of him and part of his ministry when we receive the Holy Spirit.

When Thomas gets on board 8 days later, Jesus presents his hands again. Thomas believes what he is seeing. And, Jesus says, touch me. Is there also a message to the disciples and us that we should touch the wounded in our midst? With open hands.

Jesus lets them drive all on their own. In the Acts reading we see the outcome. The sort of world God wanted to set up with the early Hebrews-the Israelites who entered the promised land with a set of rules intended to keep those who were better able to earn a living from living off those who were not so able. Every seven years, land was returned to

the original owner, debts were forgiven, and the land was allowed to rest. All of this was to provide opportunity for all the people to have what they needed to live.

In Acts: “The whole congregation of believers was united as one-one heart, one mind! They didn’t even claim ownership of their own possessions. No one said, ‘That’s mine; you can’t have it.’ They shared everything. The apostles gave powerful witness to the resurrection of the Master Jesus, and grace was on all of them.

And so it turned out that not a person among them was needy. Those who owned fields or houses sold them and…The apostles then distributed it according to each person’s need.” [The Message] Open hands indeed.

The apostles were not entirely alone. In this story, apostle is plural-they made decisions together while living in community. They didn’t travel alone-they traveled in pairs. And, they had the Holy Spirit to guide them. I wouldn’t want to be alone in the world trying to do the ministry of Christ. I know that when I encounter people who are wounded that I can touch them and I can hear them. I know that I am not only resting in the supporting hands of God I also have the indwelling Holy Spirit-and I have this community to back me up. I live in community-we live in community. We support one another in the time and money we give to this church. We are a community of open hands.