“Put your finger here and see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it in my side. Do not doubt but believe.”
In the name of God: Generous Creator, Divine Redeemer, and Sacred Wisdom. Amen.
Happy Easter 2 or Low Sunday to you all. Notoriously this Sunday the pews are customarily less populated. We had 127 here last Sunday. So…. People got their bi-annual obligations taken care of for a few more months. I am not being critical. It just makes me curious and curiouser…..
As always, this is Doubting Thomas Sunday. This is the reading we hear each year on this day. We all know the story. As I say most years, we need to give Thomas a break. Or at least those of us who sit in the realm of doubt on a regular basis. One of those folks would be me.
I like to think I generally have faith in people and things, belief systems that make sense to me, and such. But I doubt and I struggle a lot! Especially when words or intent don’t match action. Especially when rules and regulations are bogus or not truly helpful to others. Sometimes things are done just to cover a person’s posterior, resulting in inconvenience to others just because.
So we have Thomas and the others and Jesus walking through locked doors. As I said last week, these folks are a mess. If someone told me that they saw a loved one of mine who had passed in the flesh, I would want…. No, let me rephrase that…. I would demand proof. And that is simply what Thomas did. People in the throes of grief tend to get a bit squirrely. Sometimes accounts are not entirely accurate. Thomas was just being a human being. He did not know the end of the story as we do.
The end of the story…. We don’t know our end of the story. We don’t know it all about anything. I think that is one of the reasons we doubt. It could be the reason that we need proof. Just because someone convincingly states that something is “so” does not mean that is the truth. Think of all the whacko’s out there, like white supremacists and what they spew… what some churches say viciously about various groups. You don’t have to look far to find other people’s certainties to be short falling.
Doubting can be a two edged sword though. Doubting can most certainly be a springboard to examining a situation, beckoning further thought and dialogue to obtain greater clarity or understanding. I would imagine that Thomas did a lot of pondering about the news he received. The other edge is less productive.
Douglas Adams (Author, satirist, and atheist, whose memorial service was conducted at St. Martin-in-the-Field Anglican Church) wrote in “The Salmon of Doubt: Hitchhiking the Galaxy One Last Time
The fact that we live at the bottom of a deep gravity well, on the surface of a gas covered planet going around a nuclear fireball 90 million miles away and think this to be normal is obviously some indication of how skewed our perspective tends to be.
I found this interesting. As I find the Hubble Telescope images incredibly fascinating. There are things out there that we have no concept of, could not even conjure up in our minds, could never in a million light years imagine. However, just because we cannot conceive of it, touch it, see it, sense it…. Doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist or cannot be.
Sitting with the concept of the Resurrection and God’s Divine Surprise from last week, sometimes even in the face of doubt, faith has to take the strong hold for us.
It has been said about doubt, “Faith can move mountains and doubt can create them.” Doubt paralyses us, putting to a halt dreams because of fear. They are the demonic voices in our heads that repeatedly say that something cannot be. And the only way to defeat doubt is by movement, action, deliberately pushing against the doubt to shove it out of the way and plod forward.
We say we believe. And Jesus says that we are blessed because we believe and have not seen. Well, good for us! However, what happens when we as Christian people say one thing and act in another fashion. Could it cause others to doubt us, our sincerity? Does what we do or do not do convey to others that our faith is bogus?
I believe these questions are important to ponder in this day and age when the church is making a shift. The first century church was making a shift as well. If we look to the Acts of the Apostles, we can get a good handle on what action in the face of questions and even doubt can look like. Jesus said, “No longer doubt.” He gave Thomas an action command…. He give us one as well.
Let us pray….
and thus the risen Christ receive
These things did Thomas count as real:
the warmth of blood, the chill of steel,
the grain of wood, the heft of stone,
the last frail twitch of flesh and bone.
The vision of his skeptic mind
was keen enough to make him blind
to any unexpected act
too large for his small world of fact.
His reasoned certainties denied
that one could live when one had died,
until his fingers read like Braille
the markings of the spear and nail.
May we, O God, by grace believe
And thus the risen Christ receive,
whose raw, imprinted palms reach out –
and beckoned Thomas from his doubt.
Copyright 1994 Oxford University Press
Hear what the Spirit is saying to God’s people. Amen.