Last Sunday’s Gospel reading was the story of Doubting Thomas. There was one line in that story that caught my attention more that it had before. It was the line that said the disciples were together and the doors were locked for fear of the Jews.

It made me think of our current situation with COVID-19 that has many of us in isolation and like the disciples we are huddling behind locked doors. It reminded me of my childhood when my sister had told me about the Boogie man and how he came out at night and he especially liked to capture little boys. So as I lay in my bed at night I thought I could hear the steps creaking and I thought as I looked at my doorway that there was someone standing in that doorway and my heart began to beat faster and I was sure it was the Boogie man. And then I began to believe that if I stayed in the middle of the bed I would be safe. As long as I didn’t put my foot over the edge of the bed, as long as I didn’t get out of bed, the Boogie man couldn’t reach out from under the bed or from out of the darkness and grab me.

Fear does strange things to our minds doesn’t it? It makes us believe that if we just lock the doors, if we just stay in the middle of the bed, if we just keep believing that we are going to be OK, then somehow we will escape the danger that lurks around us.

Did the disciples really believe that locking the doors would prevent the Jewish authorities from arresting them? The armed guards and clubs and ropes they had with them when they invaded the Garden of Gethsemane would have been more than enough to bash in the door to the room where they cowered if the authorities had been ready to make their move to scoop up Jesus’ followers and quash His movement once and for all. The little boy who cowered in his bed in fear of the Boogie man knew he was engaging in magical thinking that he would be safe in the middle of his bed but magical thinking was better than thinking of what would happen if the Boogie man actually caught him. And we who are keeping social distancing and wiping every surface with Lysol wipes know it is helping to keep us safe from COVID-19 and yet we also know this virus is no respecter of persons. No one can say COVID-19 can’t get me.

So we know we are all engaging in a certain amount of magical thinking. We know our attempts to hide behind locked doors may look humorous to the virus. It may look like an act of futility. It may look like a child like attempt to whistle in the dark. But what else can we do?

What we can do is wait like the disciples until we are joined by the presence of Jesus. We can sit there with our fear until He stands amongst us. Until he says to us, ” Peace be with you.” What really strikes me as I look at this scene is that He doesn’t make fun of them, He doesn’t express disappointment that they don’t have more courage. He understands how real their fear is. He just says, ” It’s OK. You are not alone. I am with you.”

That didn’t tell them what was going to happen. They didn’t know that for a time they would be able to share the love of God with countless people before the authorities did arrest them and did execute them. But they were not alone. They had each other. They had their God. And that was enough to get them past their fear and able to unlock the door.

Our God still doesn’t tell us what lies ahead for each one of us. Will we get through the pandemic unscathed? Will our efforts to protect ourselves bear fruit? Will we be able to help others who are just as scared as we are? But he does say, “Peace be with you, ” and so I also say peace to all of you who are my friends as we try to find the courage to be safe and yet not cower behind locked doors.

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