A Travellerspoint blog

ECUMENICAL WORSHIP on April 24, 2022

Doubting Thomas and Us

semi-overcast 62 °F

Alleluia! Christ is risen.
The Lord is risen indeed. Alleluia!

Let us pray. O God, by whom the meek are guided in judgment, and light rises up in the darkness: Grant us in all our doubts and uncertainties to ask what you would have us do, that the Spirit of Wisdom may save us from false choices, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Lord, have mercy.
Christ, have mercy.
Lord, have mercy.

Psalm 111

Praise the Lord!
I will give thanks to the Lord with my whole heart, in the company of the upright, in the congregation.
Great are the works of the Lord, studied by all who delight in them.
Full of honor and majesty is his work, and his righteousness endures for ever.
He has gained renown by his wonderful deeds; the Lord is gracious and merciful.
He provides food for those who fear him; he is ever mindful of his covenant.
He has shown his people the power of his works, in giving them the heritage of the nations.
The works of his hands are faithful and just; all his precepts are trustworthy.
They are established for ever and ever, to be performed with faithfulness and uprightness.
He sent redemption to his people; he has commanded his covenant for ever.
Holy and awesome is his name.
The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom; all those who practice it have a good understanding.
His praise endures for ever.

A reading from the Gospel of John

But Thomas (who was called the Twin), one of the twelve, was not with them when Jesus came. So the other disciples told him, "We have seen the Lord." But he said to them, "Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands, and put my finger in the mark of the nails and my hand in his side, I will not believe."
A week later his disciples were again in the house, and Thomas was with them. Although the doors were shut, Jesus came and stood among them and said, "Peace be with you." Then he said to Thomas, "Put your finger here and see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it in my side. Do not doubt but believe." Thomas answered him, "My Lord and my God!" Jesus said to him, "Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe."
Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book. But these are written so that you may come to believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that through believing you may have life in his name. (20:19-31)

The Word of the Lord.
Thanks be to God

A Reflection The Reverend William Eakins

Thomas was the disciple who missed Easter. Thomas was the one who walked away from his community, so he wasn’t there when the risen Christ came into the room on the first Easter Day. Thomas didn't see Jesus show the nail prints in his hands and in his feet and the wound in his side, and Thomas didn't hear Jesus say, “Peace be with you.” Even when the eleven tried to tell him all about it, tried to tell him that, “We have seen the Lord!” Thomas didn’t believe. The evidence was only second hand.
Doubting Thomas, he is called, and Doubting Thomas gets bad press. Most of us prefer people who are sure about what they believe. We don’t want our politicians to waffle on issues. We want friends who say what they mean and mean what they say. The preachers who attract the greatest congregations are those who claim to know exactly what the Bible says. Likewise, infallibility is attractive and reassuring to those who want absolute answers.
But I get nervous about such certainty. I actually like it when a politician says, “Upon due consideration and study, I’ve changed my position on this subject and here’s why.” I get nervous when people are so convinced that they are right that they close their minds to considering anything new. I get nervous when any Church claims to know the mind of God on all matters without question, because we human beings aren’t smart enough to comprehend the mind of God. So I want us to ask big questions and look for big answers. I also want us to recognize that God is far too big for us ever to comprehend.
Christians and all people of faith get themselves into big trouble when they think they know everything about God and about what God wants us to do. Remember the many wars of religion, the persecution of Catholics by Protestants and vice versa, the Biblical justification of slavery, racial and gender discrimination. These are but a few of the sins of human beings who are so sure God was on their side.
Doubting has been given a bad name, as if it were something that only bad people or weak people do. So when we call someone a Doubting Thomas, we are not paying them a compliment. Yet if we are honest, we know that we all have doubts. Those doubts actually offer us a way of deepening our understanding and our faith, of opening our minds and hearts to God.
Lewis Thomas, the former chancellor of Sloan Kettering Institute, was an eloquent proponent of scientific doubt. Thomas said, “There’s something badly wrong about how science is taught. We need to look not so much at facts as we do at bewilderment because scientific facts are incomplete. It is only the strangeness of nature that makes science interesting, and science, like poetry, ought to be taught as a sort of moving target.”
Now were Lewis Thomas’s words rephrased to address Doubting Thomas, they would go like this: “There’s something badly wrong about how faith is taught. We need to look not so much at facts as we do at bewilderment because the facts about our gracious God are incomplete. It is only the mystery of God that makes faith exciting, and faith, like poetry, ought to be taught as a sort of moving target.”
The community of faith often seems like the last place to reveal our doubts. The Church often seems like a place where everyone shares a common belief because we proclaim a common Creed. It is not so. If you have doubts, you are not alone. Thomas was not ashamed to bring his doubts to his fellow disciples, and we can and should do the same. Doubt is not the enemy of faith but its ally. Having open and discerning hearts and minds is the way we keep faith growing.
And when we doubt, we should remember this: it was in the pain of Thomas’s doubt that Christ was revealed to him. Thomas began by thinking that he couldn’t believe in Jesus’ resurrection unless he could touch him and see him. "Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands, and put my finger in the mark of the nails and my hand in his side, I will not believe," he said. And he didn’t believe. But Thomas stuck with his community anyway and came back a week later to be with them. And it was there in the company of the other disciples that Jesus came to him. In the end Thomas found that the Risen Christ was so close to him that he didn't need to reach out and touch him after all.

The Prayers

Gracious and loving God, we offer our prayers on behalf of the world in which we live and for all those with whom we share it.

Bless the leaders of the nations with patience and wisdom, that old hatreds may die and war may cease. Lord in your mercy,
Hear our prayer.

Lead us to care for this earth so that generations yet to come may continue to praise you for your bounty. Lord in your mercy,
Hear our prayer.

Shelter and protect all who are in need of refuge: victims of war and violence, the imprisoned, the homeless and fearful, the mentally ill and the weak, the addicted and those in recovery. Lord in your mercy,
Hear our prayer.

Heal the sick and pour your blessing upon those who minister to the suffering. Lord in your mercy,
Hear our prayer.

Be with those who doubt and those whose faith and hope are weak. Lord in your mercy,
Hear our prayer.

Comfort the bereaved; receive those who have died into your arms of love. Lord in your mercy,
Hear our prayer.

Give us grace to acknowledge our sins and seek your forgiveness, always trusting in your love and compassion. Lord in your mercy,
Hear our prayer.

Bless those with birthdays and anniversaries this week and make us grateful for the signs of fresh hope and new life springing forth all around us. Lord in your mercy,
Hear our prayer.

And now let us pray in the words Jesus taught us:

Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name
Thy Kingdom come; thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven
Give us this day our daily bread and forgive us our trespasses
As we forgive those who trespass against us
And lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil
For thine is the Kingdom and the power and the glory
forever and ever. Amen.

The Blessing and Dismissal

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing through the power of the Holy Spirit, and may the blessing of God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit be among you and remain with you always. Amen.

Go in peace to love and serve the Lord. Alleluia, Alleluia!
Thanks be to God. Alleluia, Alleluia!

Officiants: The Reverend Hope H. Eakins, the Reverend William J. Eakins
Music: Alex Manev
Usher: Andrea Ryan

Expected time of next service: Sunday, May 1, at 9:15 am

Posted by HopeEakins 15:48 Archived in Portugal

Email this entryFacebookStumbleUpon

Table of contents

Be the first to comment on this entry.

This blog requires you to be a logged in member of Travellerspoint to place comments.