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Belief and Faith and Doubt



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


Blessed are those who have not seen and yet believe.

We call ourselves a community of believers and we are. It might be more accurate though to say we are a community of people with varying degrees of belief. I am guessing that there are many people who really do not think about their faith and are busying themselves doing the things that humans do. We can get so tied up in work, family, worry, TV eating and more TV that we just don't want to bother ourselves with the whole God thing.

Not so, the followers of Jesus two thousand years ago. They were crushed when they saw their lord die on the cross. Sure, they had seen the miracles. There were the loaves and fishes. He had raised the dead, walked on water, cured the sick and so many other things but just when they thought he was invincible he died at the hands of Rome; just like all the other would be messiahs. The disciples had doubts.

Then Jesus just shows up literally out of nowhere. There is only one explanation. Jesus is truly Lord and God. Any doubt is gone.

Well, what about us? We have seen no miracles, at least none on the scale of raising the dead or turning water into wine. Sure, we've read about Jesus's miraculous deeds but hearing about something and witnessing it are two different things.

I believe faith comes from a deeper place than just witnessing some outward sign. It is something God given that we are hardwired for. It may be exhibited by a feeling that there is something much bigger than ourselves. Or, it may come from a collection of experiences that seem just a little too coincidental. In some ways faith in God seems illogical. On the other hand, believing there is not a God makes no sense.

I think God has placed a kernel of faith in each of us. It is up to us to decide whether we will nurture that seed and let it grow. My small mind will probably never understand the concept of 'the eternal God'. I cannot wrap my head around something or someone who is eternal but that's OK. Sometimes we may be better off to let go of the logical analytical side of us and realize there are some things that are simply beyond us and just let faith take over.

I like to think that my faith is strong and then I remember the words, “If you had the faith of a mustard seed you could move mountains.” There is probably some poetic license in that statement but I am sure we all have room for improvement in the faith department. After all, we all are human. We all are God's creatures, and we all are imperfect.

So lets celebrate who we are and realize that we are loved despite our warts and flaws.

Amen


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