Year B Easter 2 John 20
John 20 :19-31

If I were to mention the names of certain disciples to you and ask you to write down the first word that comes into your mind, it is unlikely you would come up with the same words. If I were to mention the name of Judas many of you would write down the word "betray" but not all of you. If I were to mention Simon Peter, some of you would write down the word "faith," but not all of you. If I were to mention the names of James and John, some of you would write down the phrase "Sons of Thunder," but not all of you. But when I mention the word Thomas, there is little question about the word most everyone would write down. It would be the word doubt. Indeed, so closely have we associated Thomas with this word, that we have coined a phrase to describe him: “Doubting Thomas.”

You may be interested to know that in the first three gospels we are told absolutely nothing at all about Thomas. It is in John’s Gospel that he emerges as a distinct personality, but even then there are only 155 words about him. There is not a lot about this disciple in the Bible but there is more than one description.

When Jesus turned his face toward Jerusalem the disciples thought that it would be certain death for all of them. Surprisingly, it was Thomas who said: Then let us go so that we may die with him. It was a courageous statement, yet we don’t remember him for that. We also fail to point out that in this story of Thomas’ doubt we have the one place in the all the Gospels where the Divinity of Christ is bluntly and unequivocally stated. It is interesting, is it not, that the story that gives Thomas his infamous nickname, is the same story that has Thomas making an earth shattering confession of faith? Look at his confession, “My Lord, and my God.” Not teacher. Not Lord. Not Messiah. But God! It is the only place where Jesus is called God without qualification of any kind. It is uttered with conviction as if Thomas was simply recognizing a fact, just as 2 + 2 = 4, and the sun is in the sky. You are my Lord and my God! These are certainly not the words of a doubter.

Unfortunately history has remembered him for this scene where the resurrected Christ made an appearance to the disciples in a home in Jerusalem. Thomas was not present and when he heard about the event he refused to believe it. Maybe he was the forerunner of modern day cynicism. Maybe the news simply sounded too good to be true. Thomas said: Unless I feel the nail prints in his hands I will not believe.

Now I cannot help but notice that Thomas has separated himself from the disciples and therefore, in his solitude, missed the resurrection appearance. I think that john is suggesting to us that Christ appears most often within the community of believers that we call the church, and when we separate ourselves from the church we take a chance on missing his unique presence.

But the story doesn’t end here. The second time Jesus made his appearance Thomas was present with the disciples and this time he too witnessed the event. This time he believed. What can we learn from the life of Thomas?

  1. Jesus did not blame him.
  2. The most endearing things in life can never be proven.
  3. We must move beyond doubt to faith.

Anybody NOT seeing red?
1 John 1:1--2:2

Whether you were paying taxes this past Wednesday, or were lucky enough to rate a refund, it's been hard not to see anything but red this past week.

The Declaration of Independence has a phrase that is an indictment of King George. Pretend you don’t know who it’s referring to. The US “Declaration of Independence” declares that its people should not have to deal with meddlesome agencies that “harass our people and eat out their substance.”

Big-time billion-dollar bail-outs, trillion-dollar infusions and incentives, quadrillion-dollar deficits . . . all these plots and plans offer some down-the-road pots-and-pans help. But they also constantly remind us of how sickly and emaciated our economy is right now. The flow of red ink is causing businesses that have been going strong for generations to shut their doors forever.

The trickle-down of all that red ink results in more dreaded “pink slips.” A sad short list of “recession proof” jobs included “accountants (needed to keep track of all the losses, audit the books, and pay the taxes), lawyers (needed to orchestrate all bankruptcies and legal troubles that are on the increase), and clinical psychologists (who benefit from a land-office business in depression!).

If you’re not seeing “red,” your real name is Rip Van Winkle. Wake up. The frog in the pot has come to a boil. Hope you like frog’s legs. It’s not just Chicken Little who is wearing a hard-hat from all that’s falling from the sky. It almost makes you want someone to put some Valium in the water so that everyone and chill out and calm down.

During the long, dreary, doom-and-gloom winter of 2008-2009 it seemed that the only way to deal with these tough times was to “hunker-bunker down.” Grab your family, protect your most precious possessions, and circle the wagons against an uncertain, unfathomable future.

But we cannot hunker-in-the-bunker forever. Spring is finally here and the miracle of Easter reminds us that we live in a post-resurrection world. Disciples of the risen Christ are not supposed to hunch their shoulder and just try to get through the storms. Disciples are supposed to learn how to dance in the rain. When the winds of life are whipping us, we fly kites. There is no such thing as a “Christian Survivalist.” We are not called to “survive.” We are called to... presents Leonard Sweet