Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Here's to the Doubters!

The Lectionary (which many of our churches follow) is a three year cycle of biblical exploration, following the themes of the church year, and seeking to put together a Hebrew Scripture, Psalm, Epistle and Gospel reading that seem to fit each other.

In the midst of all this diversity, Easter 2 (the Sunday after Easter) in the Lectionary is always John 20:19-31, the story of so called "Doubting" Thomas. Poor guy. We know he was a dedicated zealot who followed this interesting and unorthodox rabbi around the countryside, thinking perhaps this was the Messiah, the one who would lead a revolt to remove the Roman occupiers from their land. Thomas was the disciple who, when Jesus turned his face toward Jerusalem, said to the other disciples, "Come along. We might as well die with him."

In John's Gospel, Jesus visits the disciples (minus Thomas) that Easter evening and shows them his hands and side, and they believe and are filled with joy. When they tell Thomas what they saw, he made his famous assertion "Unless I see the nail marks on his hands..."  Eight days later, with Thomas in attendance, Jesus appears again.

What is Jesus' reaction to Thomas? Does he scold him, mock him, or berate him? No, none of these.

He simply, and lovingly, gives Thomas what he needs. No "You're fired, Thomas!" or "You're off the team Thomas!" And yet Thomas is labelled Doubting Thomas, even though all he asked for was the exact thing all the other disciples wanted and needed and received in order to believe. They certainly didn't take the word of Mary Magdalene.

The further I travel on my Christian walk, the more I understand how little I actually know. And I'm ok with that. What I do know is that Jesus does not judge my uncertainty, and embraces me in the midst of my doubts, trying to give me what I need. And I despair a bit for those who have all the answers. Because that seems to leave little room for epiphanies and growth. A static faith seems a dead one to me.

So, thank you Thomas! Thank you for being the disciple who shows us that we don't have to pretend to have all the answers. Thank you for being the disciple who Jesus uses to tell all of us that we aren't to be shunned for being uncertain. Thank you for letting me know I am good company.

And thank you Jesus.

Peace,
Jim