Rev. David's Blog - May 22, 2020 Why Do Rainbows Cost So Much? When you think of storms and getting to the other side of them, the story of Noah and his family surviving the biggest flood of all is often remembered. The command of God to build an ark, Noah’s obedience, the menagerie of animals, and of course thanksgiving and a rainbow at the end capture our imagination and are a BIG STORY (Genesis 6-10). The last two Kid’s Zoom services told this story in two parts with fun songs like: Who built the ark? Noah, Noah! Who built the ark? Brother Noah built the ark. The beauty of rainbows has captured our imagination these months of pandemic. They brighten homes, windows and even the entrance to my home as a Cowansville company emblazoned the symbol onto recycled doormats. Tout va bien aller we affirm. Yet the cost of the rainbow is in the thousands of lives lost in Quebec, Canada and the hundreds of thousands worldwide. A powerful symbol in a grim reality. For our children and youth we left out the controversy of the story: the loss of untold human lives whose cries filled the night as the waters rose, the drowning of the animals not chosen to be on the ark and the destruction of ecosystems and vegetation. A lot of loss, a grim reality. We focus on the ending with the gratitude of Noah, the deliverance of eight, the promise of God to never destroy the earth by flood ever again and yes, the beauty of a rainbow. There are times I want to cut and paste the Bible into a more sanitised version that keeps the “good stuff” and dumps the destruction. But the inheritance of our ancestors in faith passes to me the controversies, the storms, the joys, faithful obedience, and God’s coming to us in Jesus. Rainbows mean much lesswithout the destructive force of storms that uproot, tear down and destroy. We cannot pick and choose the bits we like and cut out the rest. We must live grim realities in order to appreciate the rainbow. God wanted to reboot the earth and recreate Genesis with a faithful few. God ‘the destroyer’ is a difficult concept for those who affirm that GOD IS LOVE. Did God change over time or did our ability to understand God develop and mature? Jesus’ life, ministry, teaching and horrible death find affirmation in resurrection life. God’s silence at the cross reverberates with incredible alleluia’s Easter morning. An obscure reading from last week’s lectionary spoke some healing into the flood story. The writer of 1 Peter 3: 18- 22 describes how Jesus, who died in order to lead us to God...went in his spiritual existence and preached to the imprisoned spirits...those who had not obeyed God when he waited patiently during the days Noah was building the boat. These few lines help me reconcile the tragedy of the story and affirm that relationship with God is built on trust that believes even when I do not see the whole picture, know all the details or tie down belief into simplistic answers to life’s hard questions and stark realities. I still pause to look with awe at rainbows, the double ones are incredibly inspiring and fill the sky with the colour of hope. I ponder their cost for humanity and how they invite conversation in difficult times. I see an invitation to faith behind their prism and affirm, even in the midst of this worldwide pandemic, that promises are intertwined with all our stories. - Rev. David
Rev. David`s blog - May 15, 2020
Season for Sowing I planted some seeds into the earth after the last frost this week hoping that the freeze is finally finished and that the warmer weather is almost here. As I read the back of the packages I was also calculating the time of growth for the peppers and cucumbers, wanting to harvest them before the first frost of the fall. The time was now! Spring is the season for gardeners: digging, transplanting, aerating, spreading compost (or this year, a neighbourly gift of a pail of rabbit poop), and mulching. I think that gardening should be an Olympic sport with its lifting, aching muscles, physical hurtles and challenges. It is a lot of work!! I found myself over the recent cold spells adjusting my work time according to sunshine. One of the gifts of confinement and working from home is using precious sunshine hours well. At the Zoom Weathering the Storm study this week Vicky Duke mentioned a reference from Galatians 6: 7-10 that reads in part: A person will reap exactly what he sows. If he sows in the field of his natural desires, he will gather the harvest of death; if he sows in the field of the Spirit, from the Spirit he will gather the harvest of eternal life. So let us not become tired of doing good, the time will come when we will reap the harvest. The scriptures are filled with encouraging believers to make healthy choices and reflect on the directions they choose. The contrasts are often stark: life or death, goodness or evil, human nature or more heavenly goals. The important element in this is our self-awareness. To think about our motivation, actions and their consequences. Some see in the pandemic pause and confinement an opportunity to reflect on what is essential and live daily a quality of life in what they do. Some have accommodated their home space toreflect this rooting in centeredness and renewal. All of us want to be on the other side of it, hopefully having learned much. The challenges relating to a return to elementary school, doing online studies (the case for my 14-year-old), navigating deconfinement and mask wearing can be overwhelming. The balance between being and doing gets blurred and we have many unanswered questions. Many of my recent conversations as minister relate to the mental health needs of those in confinement: listening, supporting, and praying on the phone. In gardening I choose to sow seeds, toil the earth, and connect myself to the rhythm of faith that lives the sowing and harvest as a means of maintaining my balance. The preciousness of life in my hands, the knowledge that I can encourage its growth and beauty brings me inner healing, nurtures hope and keeps me focused. Galatians encourages me to choose life, spirit, blessing, and doing good to all. It encourages me to reach out, make meaningful connections, check in with those of the community of faith and believe that this season of sowing will bring a harvest of abundance. The harvest of the fall depends on the seeding of the spring. The harvest of death comes with the sowing of only our natural desires, ego, personal survival and self-centredness. The harvest of the Spirit is sown with the determination to not give up, to choose to nurture life, and make conscious decisions for good. The Harvest hymn (VU 520) sings: We plough the fields and scatter the good seed on the land, but it is fed and watered by your almighty hand.
- Rev. David EMMANUEL & BEDFORD P.C. NEWS p
Message - Karen Lackey Ryan - May 2020 Order of service May 17, 2020 6th Sunday of Easter Karen Lackey Ryan Recognize the Aborignal Path of Respect
We Gather Thought for the day: Prayer is a silent surrender of everything to God. Soren Kierkegaard. Call to worship: Come, let us praise the Lord, who created heaven and earth and every one of us. Remember that just as no two snowflakes are the same, so each of us is a blessed child of God. We bring ourselves, just as we are to this time of worship in the name of Jesus our Lord, Amen. Prayer of Approach: Dear Father, hear our prayers. Place your gentle hand on our shoulders and take our burdens upon you. We praise the mystery of our creation, we wonder at the beauty that inspires us. We bless the hearts and arms that support us. May your love guide us in all that we are and do. Amen. Hymn: 341 Fairest Lord Jesus Prayer of Confession: Dear Lord, I think that I am not so bad, when really I could be so much more. Then, just when I think that I am so much more, I learn the blessing of humility. It is too often a seesaw between pride and compassion. Forgive that which I do, which I shouldn’t do, and forgive that which I leave undone, which I should have done. May I live without regrets, and so live that all that I think and do is done for love. In Jesus’ name, Amen. Words of Assurance: Romans 8:38-39For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. Hymn: 580 Faith of Our Fathers
We Listen:Minute for Mission Acts 17: 15-31 Psalm 66: 8-12 VU pg. 785, part 2 1 Peter 3: 8-12 John 14: 15-21
Reflection: God’s world? Christians are inclined to say, “We live in God’s world.” Easy to say. What world are we actually talking about? Mother Earth? The universe as a whole? Eden before the Fall? We assume God and accept God, the holy, the sacred, the One Truth, Light and Love. I am haunted by the Great Commission. As Matthew 28: 18-20 tells us: 18 Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” not that I doubt the authority of Jesus, but I doubt my ability and willingness to talk to perfect strangers about my beliefs. Paul had no such hesitation. It seems that Paul almost single-handedly provides the momentum and drive to spread the true gospel of Jesus Christ, and write about it.Paul travelled to foreign cities, spoke in synagogues, and gave presentations before scholars and philosophers, affirming Jesus Christ as the answer to all their queries and deliberations. Here, the new Christian theology and Greek philosophy intersect and interact. Paul introduces Jesus Christ to all who will listen. I love Acts 17: 21: “All the Athenians and the foreigners who lived there spent their time doing nothing but talking about and listening to the latest ideas.” This is what philosophers do, talk and discuss Big Ideas, without necessarily coming to one answer for all, but using logic to clarify values and influence behavior. And Philosophical discourse continues to this day, whether in academia or at the kitchen table, to answer Big Questions, What should I do? And How should I live? From ancient times it has been asserted that there are natural laws; that we live in an orderly universe, that Mother nature and human nature can progress without much thought or interference. We do not have to think too much, just live the best we can. Or, we exercise our natural intelligence, free will and freedom to choose between goods and evils. Paradoxically, this freedom must be nurtured and developed by committed intention, which requires discipline and faith in things unseen.
There are those who are happy with the pursuit of wisdom, Sophia, with no need of a God, First Cause or Final Answer. There are those who question the practical usefulness of studying philosophy, those who avoid any kind of reflection,thosewho do not agree that, The unexamined life is not worth living. (attributed to Socrates). The Hebrew and Christian scriptures assert that the law of the Lord is written on our hearts. Jeremiah 31:33:33 “This is the covenant I will make with the people of Israel after that time,” declares the Lord. “I will put my law in their minds and write it on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people. Romans 2:14-16: 14 Indeed, when Gentiles, who do not have the law, do by nature things required by the law, they are a law for themselves, even though they do not have the law.15 They show that the requirements of the law are written on their hearts, their consciences also bearing witness, and their thoughts sometimes accusing them and at other times even defending them. Paul is unique in having both the education of a Pharisee, as well as having experienced a powerful conversion experience on the road to Damascus. I imagine Paul seeing the many idols, and a population of seekers, asking himself, why all this endless talk, endless questions, when the Unknown God is knowable, the answer is present for all? There is a philosophy to justify almost any orientation of life, which can range from formal logic to an attitude of, “Eat, drink and be merry, for tomorrow we die.” People may say this rather fatalistically or cynically, when in fact this saying is actually a combination of scripture references, (Isaiah 22: 13, 1 Cor. 15: 32) and used by Paul to indicate that a life without belief in the resurrection is pointless. In what world do we want to live? What do we truly want? Matt7:7 tells us that we can, "Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you willfind; knock and the door will be opened to you. Paul invites his audience, then and now, to go beyond the arguments and rationales of the mind, and accept the person, Jesus Christ, who goes to the heart of the human dilemma, and into each heart. Love, forgiveness, and the Holy Spirit are the gifts of the resurrected Christ. Anxiety, guilt, fear, regret: Take it to the Lord in prayer. InActs 17: 24, 28 Paul offers a concise summary of Christian belief: 24 “The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by human hands.25 And he is not served by human hands, as if he needed anything. Rather, he himself gives everyone life and breath and everything else.26 From one man he made all the nations, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he marked out their appointed times in history and the boundaries of their lands.27 God did this so that they would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from any one of us. 28 ‘For in him we live and move and have our being.’[a] As some of your own poets have said, ‘We are his offspring.’[b] How do I live my Christian faith? As Jesus advised the disciples, in John 13: 34: “Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another, by this all men will know that you are my disciples…” The final word this morning goes to 1 Peter 3: 9-12: 9 Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult. On the contrary, repay evil with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing. 10 For, “Whoever would love life and see good days must keep their tongue from evil and their lips from deceitful speech 11 They must turn from evil and do good; they must seek peace and pursue it. 12 For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous and his ears are attentive to their prayer, but the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.”[a] We live in God’s world. Hallelujah. Thanks be to God. Amen
Hymn: 375 Spirit of Gentleness
We Respond The Offering will now be received. Doxology: Grant us God the grace of giving, with a spirit large and free; that ourselves and all our living we may offer faithfully. Offertory Prayer: “A generous person will prosper; whoever refreshes others will be refreshed.” (Proverbs 11:25). Just as Jesus prayed over the loaves and fishes, which then multiplied, we pray that God will multiply our offerings, and multiply the depth and amount of our giving to bless others. In the name of Christ who gave all for all. Amen. Pastoral prayer: A moment of silence. Dear Lord, in these times of unexpected challenges, Hear our prayer. Dear Lord, in Your mercy grant us your peace. Dear Lord, for all who are suffering the dis-ease of mind, body and spirit we commend all to your comfort and healing. Dear Lord, more mysterious and beyond our human understanding, increase our faith.; May we appreciate your beauty and generosity, May we appreciate the friends and family who sustain us. Dear Lord, we give thanks that you forgive us and assure us of your saving grace. Dear Lord, strengthen our spirits that we may live widely, courageously and lovingly, confident in the gifts of Your Word and the Holy Spirit. Grant us, we pray, strength for the day and Light for the way. Amen. The Lord’s Prayer Hymn: 236 Now Thank We All Our God Commissioning: Go out into the world with the confidence of Romans 8: 22-28: 22 We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. 23 Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption to sonship, the redemption of our bodies. 24 For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what they already have? 25 But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently. 26 In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. 27 And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God. 28 And we know that in all things God works for the good for those who love him, who[i] have been called according to his purpose.
Blessing: Philippians 4: 6, 7Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Thanks be to God, Amen.
Rev. David's Blog - May 8, 2020 How Firm a Foundation Sometimes you remember a melody that emerges like a dream from somewhere far off. The tune I found myself humming recently was played on Saturday evenings around the piano at my Grandmother Geddes’. Do you remember when there was a piano in almost every home? When most families had someone who could play familiar sing-along songs? Confinement reminds me of the many ways people entertained ourselves before television and internet: board games, musical soirées and big gardens. The tune was a hymn, to a Welsh folk melody, from John Rippon’s 1787 A Selection of Hymns: How firm a foundation, you servants of God, is laid for your faith in God’s excellent word. When through fiery trials your pathway shall lie, my grace all-sufficient shall be your supply: the flame shall not hurt you, I only design your dross to consume, and your gold to refine. (VU 660) I ponder these words of a faith refined in fire, rooted so deeply that it withstands any assault. I am meditating on 1 Peter 2: 2-10 that was part of the Zoom Weathering the Storm gathering this week. In the epistle, the image of stone is used both of Jesus, described as the Living Stone, and of his followers who are living stones used in building a spiritual temple (v. 4-5). The stone which the builders rejected as worthless turned out to be the most important of all (v. 7). It became the cornerstone in Zion (v. 6). My faith believes in the empty tomb and sees life where others see death. It calls me to experience the precious interconnectedness of all Life, be it the awesomeness of an incredible Universe, the amazing complexity of Creation and how Jesus, God’s Life in human history, rooted in time and place, has as of his resurrection joined the wonder of Life everlasting. These are some conversations I would like to be having among us in these changing times. How do we live our faith that is an incredible force for courage and wisdom? How do we embrace Life in its fullness and depths so we are strong and resilient in the here and now? Another well-loved hymn has these words: The church’s one foundation is Jesus Christ our Lord; we are his new creation by water and the Word; from heaven he came and sought us that we might ever be his living servant people, by his own death set free. (Samuel Stone, 1866, VU 331)
No surprise that in these challenging days a faith resting on a solid foundation is one that can survive the storm. Jesus spoke of the house build on sand and another on a rock. When the storm arrived which house survived? Am I permitted one last musical reminiscence? It is Augustus Toplady’s 1763, hymn: Rock of ages cleft for me, let me hide myself in thee! May the stories of our ancestors in faith across the centuries remind us of what gives hope and meaning to the preciousness of life. May the hymns they sang, and the new ones emerging be our song of faith. May faith in the Risen Jesus who courageously braved the storms and rose to lead us forward, be for you and each of us a firm foundation! - Rev. David
Rev. David's Blog - May 1, 2020 Resilient Community There is only one way through this pandemic: together. No short cuts, no going around it, just finding the way through it, together. No ‘community’ distancing or pretending we can do it on our own, we need each other. We need each other!! As each of us has adapted our lives to the reality of physical distancing and adjusted how we live relationships in these changing times we are in an unknown reality. Whether in the way we get groceries or medications, the way we ‘see’ friends and family online, or the return to essentials and basics, this is a life changing and possibly a planet changing time. We are not in this alone, the whole human family is living this. Following the Easter appearances of Jesus there is a glimpse into the early Christian community found in Acts (2: 42- 47). It is a helpful insight into community that emerges from the crucifixion, death and fear of Good Friday and into the emerging joy of Easter Life. They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and prayers...all who believed were together and had all things in common. They would sell their possessions and goods and distribute the proceeds as any had need, they spent much time together in the temple, broke bread at home and ate their food with glad and generous hearts... While the meals in homes and public worship are not possible for us at this time, the glimpse into how these believers cared for each other and lived as community shows a vibrant faith. The building of a caring community, one that shares from each person’s resources and distributes them is model for us today. It would become the way early faith communities were known to their neighbours as their love and care emulated Jesus’ teaching and example. Within an Empire that ruled by force, fear and violence, Christians would live out the message of Jesus’ kin-dom rather than kingdom. This week Zoom brought together a Sunday worshipping community, a kids service Tuesday and a weathering the storm online study Thursday. These gatherings are about living our faith together, and about being a resilient community that adapts to current realities with faith, love, care and courage. If you participate in any of these services you will quickly see that we are not professionals or in the entertainment business. There are glaring imperfections and given the closure of barbershops and salons, some very interesting hair styles. We come together because Jesus has called un into a community of disciples who dare believe that following him is relationship based, not building dependent. We ‘see’ each other, care for each other and ask: do you need anything? Can I help you in some way? A recent gift of eggs made its way into various kitchens. A week later, a gift was offered and a cake was given, home made. How many eggs did it take I asked? Six, came the answer. Half the dozen gifted eggs became a cake that blessed others with its taste and was a sign of how we get through these times: with humour, grace and generosity! The words of Ruth Duck speak to me (VU 611): Out of the depths of fear, O God, we speak. Breaking the silences, the searing truth we seek. Safe among friends, our grief and rage we share. Here in this community, hold us in your care. How do we get through a pandemic? By being a resilient community of faith that follows Jesus through the storm. Blessings, - Rev. David
Rev. David's Blog - April 24, 2020 limitations. It is impacting all countries, all citizens and all families. We are being invited to affirm a redefinition of what it means to be a worldwide human family and need to pray for each other and help each other within the realms of our possibilities. We speak a word of peace this week for Nova Scotia. We hold in prayer and compassion communities, families and neighbours devastated by the killings of 22 individuals, our brothers and sisters. Each of us holds one of them in our hearts, a redefined and simple Buddy Prayer System. For them, bells are being rung in loving tribute across the country today (Friday), 6:00 p.m. ADT or 5:00 p.m. local time by invitation of our Moderator, Rev. Richard Bott. Thanks to our bell ringers whose names will be mentioned on Sunday. For them we have lit candles in our windows. The Christ candle was lit Monday evening at Emmanuel as requested by our UCC Regional Council. We sang last Sunday, and again this week, a simple chorus from More Voices (MV 215, Alison Wesley, 2000): Peace be with you, peace forever, peace be with you my friends. Till we meet again, may God be with you: Peace, peace, peace. May we, like Jesus, speak and live this peace. - Rev. David
Rev. David's Blog - April 17, 2020 Where is Jesus? The Easter story from the Gospel of John (20: 1-18) sees Mary Magdalene arriving at the tomb while it was still dark and waiting in the cemetery even after Peter and John had left. The tomb was empty but she did not yet understand what resurrection meant. She hears through her tears the gardener speaking her name: Mary, and in that moment there is recognition and joy. It was the beloved voice of Jesus. These days the earth is slowly greening around us. There is rain, cold, signs of spring, then wintry snow. Although the season of spring is officially here, I still use the fireplace to take the morning chill out of the air before looking with anticipation for the sun behind a cloudcovered sky. Be patient, spring takes time. Just like the reality of new life and resurrection, it’s happened but greens into our lives with patience and emerging understanding. Slowly the disciples begin to feel it and live it into their reality. John’s gospel continues the resurrection story with the disciples gathered behind locked doors “for fear of the authorities”. (See 20: 19-30). It is into their fear, grief and disbelief that Jesus appears. He speaks a word of peace, “peace be with you”, and shows the wounds in his hands and side. I compare this story to our COVID-19 reality of physical distancing and confinement as a society. There are times I am doing well and others when the space feels heavy, times when managing the small chores seem to demand all my energy. There may be a bit of cabin fever, or of self-pity until I read the death tolls in a city like New York and the alarming deaths in our residences and long term care facilities for those particularly vulnerable. Into my housebound world, Life is needed and appears. Often in worship we use Jesus’ words: The peace of the Lord be with you! It is a greeting that breaks through walls and obstructions to touch our spirits with peace, renewal and hope. That greeting sent through a Zoom worship Easter Sunday with over 40 attending remotely, was a sign of the power of the Risen Jesus to calm our spirits and keep us alive in possibilities and hope that spring is coming, that the earth is being renewed and that the worship of God is not dependent on a physical sanctuary. Where is Jesus? The Risen Christ is in our midst. to remind us of the depth of God’s love. Love conquers the grave and death no longer can hold Life down. My grandmother Myrtle Geddes had a favorite Easter hymn, the story of Mary in song: I come to the garden alone while the dew is still on the roses.... My favourite Easter hymn is in Voices United, was written in 1873 by William Pennefather, and says: Jesus, stand among us in your risen power; let this time of worship be a hallowed hour.
Breathe the Holy Spirit into every heart; bid the fears and sorrows from each soul depart.
Lead our hearts to wisdom till our doubting cease, and to all assembled speak your word of peace.
Happy Easter Church! - Rev. David
Message - Karen Lackey Ryan - April 19, 2020 In the musical Jesus Christ Superstar, in the song of the same name, Judas sings, “Who are you, do you think you are what they say you are…”(Andrew Lloyd Webber) in a repeated chorus. Who is this Christ, the heart of Easter, the meaning and centre of life for some, the something that is nothing for others?
Generally speaking, the scriptures this morning give us two sides of the same coin, in terms of faith in proclaiming the gospel. On the one hand Peter gives his first sermon, considered to be a brief but complete summary of the Christian faith. 22 “Fellow Israelites, listen to this: Jesus of Nazareth was a man accredited by God to you by miracles, wonders and signs, which God did among you through him, as you yourselves know. 23 This man was handed over to you by God’s deliberate plan and foreknowledge; and you, with the help of wicked men,[a] put him to death by nailing him to the cross. 24 But God raised him from the dead, freeing him from the agony of death, because it was impossible for death to keep its hold on him.”
On the other hand is Doubting Thomas. Doubting Thomas has become a cliché in our society, famous for not believing until incontrovertible proof is seen and examined. I identify with Thomas this year, rather than Peter, wanting to feel and know the Reality of the risen Lord, rather than thinking of Jesus abstractly, as the best idea known to mankind. As baptised and practicing Christians, what Peter says is well known and the very basis of our faith, confidence in the Reality of things unseen. This is the hope where before there was no hope. I accept all this on an intellectual level, meaning that it is possible to know a lot about Jesus, but my question this season is, do I know Jesus? Am I, “Always prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks, to give the reason for the hope I have?” 1 Peter 3: 15, Or not?
/2 It is easy to be skeptical, easy to question, especially when witnessing the pervasive pain and injustice of life. It is hard to have faith, even when schooled from childhood in Christianity. Of course, I speak for myself. How do I move beyond an intellectual stance of acceptance, to an emotional surety, and deepened faith? Do I have the famed “personal relationship with Jesus?” I imagine myself at the time of Jesus, as an oppressed, uneducated, and poverty-stricken peasant, having heard of surprising miracles, and the beginnings of political and social change, the beginning of hope. And then, the crucifixion; The end. The sadness. The despair. Where is my freedom, where the creation of a better world?
As a disciple, we can assume that Thomas was with Jesus on a daily basis. Thomas witnessed the teachings and miracles of Jesus. Yet despite the close relationship with the Lord, Thomas was skeptical. I imagine Thomas, absent from the initial meeting with the other disciples, after the resurrection. Is Jesus who he says he is? Is the resurrection real? Is my trust betrayed or confirmed? What is the effect of the resurrection on me and my daily life?
When Jesus appears for the second time, the disciples continue hiding, probably considering the personal, public, and political consequences of being a known follower of Jesus, protecting themselves from a perceived threat, and wondering what to do next. What is the cost of following in the larger-than-life footsteps of Jesus? The story of Thomas still resonates because these are questions that are asked today. How often do we demand answers, demand proof, demand explanations that we can understand, only to be told, Believe, have Faith! Thomas teaches us about relationship with God.
/3 What then, do I learn from the appearances of Jesus, and the reaction of Thomas? Jesus appears through locked doors, risen from the dead, and contrary to what human knowledge assumes about physical movements. (Modern quantum physics could probably say something about that). The disciples are afraid and “self-isolating.” Jesus greets them with “Peace be with you.” Jesus breathes on them, and they receive the Holy Spirit! Jesus calls on Thomas to touch his wounds, but somehow I doubt that Thomas could move a muscle. The skepticism, the hubris, the demands that Thomas had made fell away quickly in the presence of the risen Lord, such that all he could say was, “My Lord and my God.”
It only makes sense to me, when we are face to face with the Lord, that we are awe-struck, humbled, and speechless; aware of our limitations, accepted and loved as we are, children of the living Lord. My questions and demands are silenced as I realize that I amthe one beingasked the questions: Do I love the Lord? Is God the centre of my life? Who do I think I am? The appearance of Jesus through locked doors indicates that no obstacle prevents the presence of Jesus in our lives. Jesus is the peace. The breath of Jesus is our Holy Spirit. Forgiveness is the gift that Jesus bestows and the gift we give that frees ourselves. This is the gospel that resonates with me, and changes my heart. In the scriptures this morning, Peter is the public persona, doing the Lord’s work of bringing the message of Christ to the masses. Christ is risen! Life has changed. Hope is real. Thomas is the individual believer, whose doubts prevented a fully trusting relationship with Christ. Until he encountered Christ face to face. With Thomas I say, My Lord and my God.” God is. Jesus lives. And forgives. Breathe on me, breath of God, fill me with life anew, that I may love as thou dost love and do as thou wouldst do. VU 382 Thanks be to God, Amen