Sunday, 7 April 2013

Faith, Hope, Joy

You may remember my sermon from this, the second Sunday of Easter two years ago... and you may not!

This is the week when, by sticking to the traditional readings we consider good old Doubting Thomas. Now, just to remind you – two years ago I spoke about how maligned Thomas was, how he’d actually lots of faith, and lots of courage, for he did not mind voicing his doubts, nor was he slow to admit when he was wrong. And considering it was one small event in a whole life of faith, it seems a bit small minded to call him doubting Thomas – especially when we don’t call Peter- Denying Pete; or Mark- Run-away-with-no-clothes-on Mark.

So, today we once again consider Thomas the Twin (no idea who his twin was btw!) and what this chapter of his story can tell us about our own faith journey. 

When I think about my faith, and my journey of faith (not entirely the same thing) I am all too aware that it has never been a constant line; there have been some constants, but the line is not unwavering at all.

The constant is simple: I simply cannot remember a time when I have not believed in God, and in all that he did for us through Jesus. There have been times when the dogma, the practises, the traditions and some of the extras that seem to get added on have caused me enormous grief and difficulty. But underlying it all was the sure knowledge and foundation that God made me; that God loves me and that God calls me to be his own.

I have had my doubts; I have had my crises of confidence, but because the foundations went deep and were solid I have managed to weather every storm.

And, I suspect, if I am really honest with myself... the crises have more often than not been brought about because I was in the wrong place, or listening to the wrong people, or putting myself into the wrong circumstances.

But through it all, God was constant; God, through the Spirit’s prompting nudged me back; sometimes even dragged me back!

And I emerged the other side of whatever it was a stronger person and better equipped to follow the life he has called me to.

I have learned that God’s amazing grace, God’s strong and powerful forgiveness have enabled good to come about, and new adventures experienced. I have learned that Peter’s flawed lifestyle; and Thomas’s and Paul’s and Matthew, and James and John and Mark – all of them, whose stories are recorded in these pages, are able to show me, that when I feel I have failed; when I am assuaged with guilt, or overcome by circumstance, that it’s ok! I am not the first, and I am not the last. And actually it’s alright. God knows exactly what we are like and he still loves us, calls us, chooses us, wants us to experience his love and his awesome power for ourselves – and that really is stunning!!

So, Thomas, who on one occasion had his doubts, teaches us that it’s ok. And Thomas, who was resilient in amongst friends who had seen something that he’d missed, shows us that we too can hang on in there, and we will come through the other side.

When Jesus came amongst them, he singled Thomas out – not to be told off, but to be comforted. Peace Thomas, Peace.
Stop your doubting, it’s ok Thomas, it’s ok. Here you go – it really is me, believe it.

Thomas was so lucky!!
He saw and he believed
We may not see as he did
But we too are blessed
We hear the words; in our minds eye we see the story unfold; and in our hearts the words turn into a deep heat, bubbling up within – yes indeed!! Jesus is God’s own Son; and God has raised him from the dead.

How awesome is our God!!
This is our hope, our faith, our joy!
That God sent his Son.
That his Son lived to show us life; died to bring us life; and lives on to fill our lives with good things

Jesus stands among us: he whispers “peace be with you”
Stop doubting and believe!

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