Doubt, Sharing, Faith and Thanks - An Image of the Church at Work
On this weekend after Easter our gospel lesson transports us back to Easter night. We will hear how the risen Christ comes to stand among the disciples who are still locked up in a room terrified of what might happen next. Jesus had been crucified and buried. That morning when Mary Magdalene had gone to the tomb she found Jesus’ body was missing. After encountering the risen Christ in the garden, Mary had told his disciples, “I have seen the Lord,” but they do not yet believe her. They still doubt. They continue to be overwhelmed by fear. Then Jesus himself shows up with a greeting of peace. He shows them the wounds on his hands and side. Suddenly, there is great rejoicing. Christ is risen!
All the disciples are there in the room with Jesus except for one. For reasons we will never know, Thomas is missing. When he hears the news that the disciples have now seen the Lord, too, Thomas doesn’t believe them. He doubts. He needs to see with his own eyes and touch Jesus’ wounds with his own hands.
In the midst of his doubting, Thomas is surrounded by a community of people who keep proclaiming to him the good news. They keep telling him their story. The other disciples aren’t scared of Thomas’ doubt. They do not push him away. Just one week later, this time when Thomas is there with the other disciples, too, Jesus shows up once again. Thomas gets to see him. He gets to touch Jesus’ wounds. His doubting is then turned to joy, too.
This Easter story offers us a wonderful image of what the church might be today. The church can be a place where we tell our stories of having seen the risen Lord over and over again. We keep sharing our faith because we need to bear witness to our stories and because those stories might help carry someone through their life’s challenge. At the same time, the church can be a community where doubt is welcomed and acknowledged because we trust in a God who shows up even when we don’t believe it is possible. We can both believe and doubt together.
This weekend is our annual Youth Sunday weekend. We will hear the reflections of some of our graduating high school seniors who will share about their faith journey. As I was working with one of these wise young people on their reflection they said to me, “I want to believe in God, but sometimes it is hard.” I told them there was no truer statement of faith than that.
I encourage you to come be inspired by our young people of all ages who will stand up this weekend to lead us in worship in faith and in doubt, trusting that God will show up in our midst. Draw strength from their stories. Share in their joy. Affirm the importance of their witness among us not just on Youth Sunday, but throughout the year. See the church at work in and through them.
Thank you - all of you - for being the amazing community of faith that you are. I am grateful for you, especially all of the ways you came together as a community to make Holy Week and Easter the experience that it was. It took a lot of hands - pouring communion, to waving people into parking spaces, to greeting people as they walked in the door, to vacuuming the sanctuary, to setting out flowers, to stuffing bulletins, to picking up signs on the side of the road, to so much more. Thank you!