Old Thomas. Old seeing-is-believing, doubting Thomas,
the original Missourian – the ‘show me’ kid.”
Anyone else, besides me, recall the finger shaking reprimand,
“Don’t be a Doubting Thomas!”
Every year at this time, Thomas goes on trial in a thousand churches.
But ladies and gentlemen of the jury, the scriptures give Thomas a defense:
But Thomas (who was called the Twin), one of the twelve,
was not with them when Jesus came.”
He missed it! Jesus appeared to the disciples, and Thomas wasn’t there.
He didn’t see the risen Lord. He was out doing some errands.
He was the only one who wasn’t afraid of the authorities,
So Thomas went out to pick up the mail,
and while he was there, see if their pictures were hung up in the post office,
Somebody had to buy groceries,
Pay the electric bill, and set the trash out at the curb.
It’s only natural that when he got back and heard what happened,
he would want to see what the others had described.
Only natural that Thomas wanted proof.
He wanted empirical evidence, kickable data, hard facts.
He wanted video, You Tube, TiVo — Show me! – then I will believe
It’s time we rehabilitate his image –
For Thomas is the representative of all of us, our twin, the storyteller suggests,
all of us who live with our questions, and yet have faith.
Most of us want something more than hearsay, someone else’s faith story.
In her book, Seeing the Sacred, Barbara Brown Taylor writes of a time:
Many years ago now, a wise old priest
invited me to speak at his church in Alabama.
“What do you want me to talk about?” I asked him.
“Come tell us what is saving your life now,” he answered…
What is saving my life now is the conviction that there is no spiritual treasure
to be found apart from the bodily experiences of human life on earth.
My life depends on engaging the most ordinary physical activities
with the most exquisite attention I can give them.
What is saving my life now is becoming more fully human,
trusting that there is no way to God apart from real life in the real world.
In a world where faith is often construed as a way of thinking,
bodily practices remind that faith is a way of life.
The bodily or faith practices Barbara Brown Taylor refers to
are all the things we Christians do as way of paying attention to God.
Such as being part of a Christian community, a congregation
and taking part in its life together as community through worship,
faith formation, collective deeds of hospitality and compassion
and being nourished by our siblings in the faith.
And devotional practices, especially prayer and spending time with the bible.
And faith practices including loving what God loves
through the practice of compassion and justice in the world.
We are reminded of these bodily practices each time
new disciples join our community, as there are today.
Each week I get a comic strip in my e-mail.
The comic is called “Agnus Day” and it’s based on the Lectionary.
There are two characters in the comic – two sheep.
One of them, named Ted, is forever coming up
with strange interpretations of the scripture.
The other sheep usually helps Ted out, if he isn’t too annoyed.
In this week’s comic, Ted says,
“I think Thomas gets a bad rap. Who can blame him?”
The other sheep says, “True—he WAS on his own.
It’s not until he’s in the fellowship of the church that he sees Jesus.”
Ted leans forward and says, “So what you’re saying is…”
The other sheep says, “There are no private eyes.”
No private eyes. No discernment without community. No lone rangers.
No deep peace without the faith of our brothers and sisters to uphold us
To carry us when we cannot walk
To speak up when we take a wrong turn
To tell us the stories of faith when we forget,
o believe for us when we cannot believe ourselves,
and to help us when we stumble.
That’s the peace of Christ which we share.
Peace not as the world gives, but the peace of Christ.
The peace that comes not from knowing all the answers,
but the peace that comes in a community that lives the questions,
that practices the faith together and as individuals.
When we say to one another The peace of Christ be with you.
We are saying, Easter is not over,
because the peace of the risen Christ is with us.
When we say, Peace be with you, we affirm Easter is still happening.
We were not in the room when Jesus showed up, risen from the dead,
but we have the witness and practice of our faith community.
We don’t have to have all the answers,
and even our questions may change over time.
But every time we share the peace of Christ with one another
we make visible the presence of the risen Savior.
Every time we speak peace to one another and to the world,
we can hear the voice of Jesus saying, Peace be with you.
And like Thomas, Faithful Thomas,
we have believed what we have not seen.
And now see what we believe.
Why, it is enough to make you fall to your knees in grateful worship,
saying My Lord, and my God!
Thanks be to God for the peace of Christ.
He is Risen.