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Doubting Thomas - Last Sunday's Sermon

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Here is a semblance of yesterday's sermon.  Sermons at St. Andrew's frequently turn into discussions. I like it that way probably because of my years as a classroom teacher. Anyway, here are the readings and the sermon.

The New Testament

Revelation 1:4-8

John to the seven churches that are in Asia: Grace to you and peace from him who is and who was and who is to come, and from the seven spirits who are before his throne, and from Jesus Christ, the faithful witness, the firstborn of the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth.

To him who loves us and freed us from our sins by his blood, and made us to be a kingdom, priests serving his God and Father, to him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.

Look! He is coming with the clouds; every eye will see him, even those who pierced him; and on his account all the tribes of the earth will wail. So it is to be. Amen. "I am the Alpha and the Omega," says the Lord God, who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.

The Gospel

John 20:19-31

When it was evening on that day, the first day of the week, and the doors of the house where the disciples had met were locked for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said, "Peace be with you." After he said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord. Jesus said to them again, "Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you." When he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, "Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained."

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.

The Sermon

Thomas doubts and Jesus Shows Up

In this gospel reading the disciples are hiding in a locked room of a house and fearing for their lives. Suddenly, there is Jesus among them. The first thing he says to them is peace be with you.

I have tried to imagine myself in the room with them. What would I think. It would probably be such a tangle of emotions that I might not know what to think. I would start out worried that we would be found and strung up but when Jesus shows up I would be full of joy that at least his ghost was there. Then it becomes clear he is there in the flesh. Joy again!  When Jesus tells me to be at peace I would truly feel at peace. Then Jesus tells me I am not done. There is work to do. I and the others have sins to forgive or retain. I am not so sure I am comfortable with that. What if I get it wrong. Jesus breathes the holy spirit on all of us and suddenly I feel better, more confident.

This passage from John talks a lot about doubt and it isn't just doubting Thomas. Before Jesus appeared, everyone in that room doubted they would survive. They were probably also doubting whether they should have tread the unsafe path that Jesus had led them down.

We are kind of like that too. We all have our moments of doubt. We doubt if we are headed in the right direction. We have doubts about decisions we have made.
I think doubt and trust go hand. Have you ever been in a situation that made you feel extremely uncomfortable? The discomfort may have been theological or social or personal. Share with me what was going on with you during that time. What were your doubts?

We sometimes doubt our faith. It would seem to me that those are the times when we ask the Holy Spirit to breath on us, to make us stronger, more confident and wash away our doubt.

There is a prayer near the back of our prayer book I would like to share with you.

"Grant, O God, that your holy and life-giving Spirit may so move every human heart, that barriers which divide us may crumble, suspicions disappear, and hatreds cease; that our division being healed, we may live in justice and peace; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen."

This prayer mentions barriers. We all have them. We use them to protect us. This week lets do some self examination take down some barriers. Lets let the Holy Spirit come into our lives so that we will feel confident to do the work Jesus has commissioned us to do. Lets ask the Holy Spirit to strengthen our faith in the risen Christ, take away our doubt and give us the peace which the world cannot give.

Peace be with you.
Fr. Fred

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