Practice makes perfect – hallowed words spoken by Math and Music teachers alike through the aeons I suspect.  Lots of folks tend to think the same way about church…that the more we go to church the more we become the church.  Perhaps.  At least, at our best, I think there’s a ring of truth in that thought.

indexBut our ideas of perfection are interesting aren’t they?  In our culture, perfection is unblemished, free of tarnish or wear.  For our culture, perfection takes the form of the ultimate ideal…the ideal body type (which seems to be achievable for the select few and the manikins among us), car, house, cat, kids, food…you name it…we’re obsessed with perfection or at least our culture would lead us to think that way.  Consider the billboard on the left.  The perfect potato chip.  Seriously?  Potatoes chips have to be perfect?  How many of us carefully inspect each and every sliver of potato before consuming the salty snack?  Does the packaging and presentation make a wiff of difference?

And speaking of snacks, where’d Thomas get to anyway?  Did the rest of the disciples in the upper room finally get hungry and send him out to pick up some grub?

In this week’s reading, we find the often maligned and far from perfect Thomas “the doubter”.  Thomas has long been hailed as the exemplar of a disciple that hasn’t practiced enough to be perfect.  He isn’t there when the Risen Christ shows up.  The nerve!  And when he does arrive, he insists on touching wounds and seeing the truth for himself before he will believe.  Conditional faith!  The nerve!  Who on earth would insist on proof they can see and touch and hear before they say “yes Lord, I believe!” Hmmm…how about…?

I think Thomas gets a really bad wrap.  Consider this…where are the rest of the disciples?  Are they practicing reconciliation or forgiveness?  Are they preaching on street corners?  Are they healing the sick?  No.  They barricaded themselves out of fear of persecution and uncertainty about the events of Holy Week.  But there is one fella that was willing to take a stroll through the unsightly streets…Thomas.  Does that change some of our imagination about this disciple?  I wonder.  We can’t say for sure what he was doing, but this much we know – while everyone else was locked up, Thomas was outside the tomb…I mean, the upper room.

Is Thomas perfect?  Nope.  At least not by our culture’s standards, and maybe that’s why we label him the doubter.  But there’s more Thomas in us than we realize.  And that’s a good thing.

jesus-christ-munir-alawiThe Risen Christ is often depicted along our perfect ideals.  Perfectly white, white as the driven snow my friends.  Not a blemish on his face.  Clothed in garments dazzling to a degree not even Clorox could match.  Usually there’s the sheen of the sun in his hair.  Jesus would be great for Calvin Kline billboards everywhere.

But that’s not the picture John paints for us in the Good News.  The Risen One is scarred.  Broken, but whole.  There are holes in his hands.  There are the marks of nails in his flesh.  His side is pierced.  His feet are far from picture perfect.  What was put to death, God rose up in new life – but that new life doesn’t resemble the perfect life we imagine.

The resurrection is more than skin deep in its beauty.  Instead of the scars marking something imperfect or wrong with this risen life, Jesus shows us the real truth of it:  Our scars mark signs of healing and wholeness and the possibility, that even with all that happens to us in this world, even Friday, even death, there