Pastor John Barnette
24 But Thomas (who was called the Twin,) one of the twelve, was not with them when Jesus came. 25 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.”
26 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.” 27 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.” 28 Thomas answered him, “My Lord and my God!” 29 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.”
Have you ever experienced doubt? If you answer “no,” well … I’m skeptical. Doubt and skepticism are part of human nature, especially when what we hear or see seems beyond belief. No one wants to be made a fool of or come across as gullible. Therefore, we throw up the guard of doubt and mistrust and demand proof.
When it comes to our faith, we are not different. We live in a world that is constantly challenging our faith. I am sure that each of you has had a time or two in your life, maybe even lately, that you’ve questioned your faith. “What is it that I actually believe?” “If God is real, why do bad things happen?” “If God is real, why doesn’t he just make himself known in a big way?” “If you are real, God, show me!”
Sound familiar? Yeah. For me too.
Jesus’ disciple Thomas has always gotten an undeserved bum rap because of his doubt regarding his friends talk about Jesus being raised from the dead. Instead of breaking out in songs of praise and joy, he basically says, “PROVE IT.”
“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,” he responded. For Thomas, the proclamation that Christ had risen wasn’t enough. He had to see it for himself.
But here’s the thing. Even though Thomas had his doubts, he didn’t cut and run. Scripture tells us that he was in the room with his friends a week later. He showed up, with his doubts and all, and waited on the Lord.
And Jesus delivered. He appeared before the disciples once again and allowed Thomas to touch his wounds. “My Lord and my God!” He proclaimed in response.
We doubt. At times our faith gets a little shaky as we try to see Jesus moving about around us. When doubt comes, remember Jesus did not reprimand Thomas for his doubt. He showed up for Thomas simply because Thomas kept coming back to that room where Jesus had appeared, despite his skepticism.
Thomas reminds us that sometimes it is in our times of doubt, when we are struggling to understand, that Jesus shows up and shows out, moving in new ways that help us to see his presence in our lives. All we must do is simply be willing to show up, too.
Blessings, Pastor John
Pastor Ken Ewing
We are fast approaching the Season of Lent. Lent is the 40 days between Ash Wednesday and Easter. It is a time of reflection and preparation in the anticipation of celebrating Easter. It also a time of remembering Jesus in the wilderness: a time of withdrawal and sacrifice in preparing to do God’s will.
Last week, Joe asked me, as I entered the Sanctuary, “what are you going to do for Lent?” In past years, when asked that question, my response would have been what I had planned to give up during Lent. In asking the question, “what are you going to do for Lent?”, my response was different. I told Joe and in a few moments later the congregation that I had been struggling with that question. My response was to say that I would Do something that would help me respond to God’s call to love and care for others rather than sacrifice something that did not really matter or lead me to make appropriate preparations to celebrate Easter.
In my response to making preparations, I was reminded of “failed” attempts in the past. My dad, a Baptist minister, said he was going to give up cooked carrots for Lent. Big deal, he did not like cooked carrots in the first place. Another “big deal” that fell flat was the time my colleague and I decided to give up caffeine for Lent. We were hard to live with for at least three days negating our intentions to make good preparations for Easter.
This Lenten Season I will not give up something, but rather Do something that would not only help me reflect on God’s will, but would also impart God’s love on others.
At the heart of the Christian faith is the call to love and serve others thus serving God, in other words it is TO DO. I am not saying making sacrifices is not important, rather I am advocating for making an intentional response in loving, kindness maybe a good way of making preparations and reflecting on the importance of Easter.
For me this Lenten Season will be one of doing, reflecting on God’s call to loving service. In preparing to celebrate God’s grace at Easter, I choose to Do something for others. Even during a pandemic there are ways of showing God’s love. I can write thank you notes to family and friends, including important “thank you”s to folks that serve us. I can contribute to funds for those that serve us at South Port Square, pay for the person behind me in the fast food lane, keep in touch with folks on Zoom. I will continue to share my sense of humor with others, hopefully making their day a little brighter.
These are just few suggestions you may consider, or come up with some of your own. Doing good deeds to gain reward or a word of gratitude, is not what I will be about, rather to serve God. Such will be my time of reflecting on how I should respond to God grace, and make preparations to celebrate Easter. Amen.
Salutations, my brothers, and sisters in Christ! I hope that you are excited about what is to come for Pilgrim Church in the coming year. I know I am! I feel confident that God is still very much at work in our world and has great plans in store for us. Therefore, I’m looking forward to the future with hope and excitement!
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