April 02, 2018
By Matthew Crebbin.
The Rev. Matthew Crebbin has been the Lead Pastor at Newtown Congregational Church, UCC and is the Coordinator of the Newtown Interfaith Council.
John 20: 19-29
When it was evening on that day, the first day of the week, and the doors of the house where the disciples had met were locked for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.” After he said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord. Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.” When he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.”
But Thomas (who was called the Twin), one of the twelve, was not with them when Jesus came. 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.”
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.” 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.” Thomas answered him, “My Lord and my God!” said to him, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe.
He is forever known as Doubting Thomas. Often John’s story about his needing to see Jesus’ hands and feet is used as a morality tale that looks down upon the uncertain and the questioning ones. In a sense the Christian community has often raised Thomas up as an example of what a follower of Jesus should never be – a doubter. “Have faith, believe, do not question”. And as a result, many a thoughtful seeker of the great mysteries of life have come to believe that sitting in a pew on Sunday morning is that last place on earth that one might actually wrestle with the great questions of ethics, morality and meaning.
Frederick Buechner said, “Whether your faith is that there is a God or that there is not a God, if you don't have any doubts, you are either kidding yourself or asleep. Doubts are the ants in the pants of faith. They keep it awake and moving”.
Doubt and faith are actually intimate partners – dancing across the universe in pursuit of authenticity and truth. How much more grace might come from the pulpits of our churches if pastors stood up and admitted if but in a quite whisper: “I doubt”? What if the church was willing to say Sunday by Sunday: “We do not really know that much for sure” or “O how we long to see the hands and feet of our master and teacher and touch the brokenness of his life – that we might be more certain about this gift called resurrection.”
Though there are many who willingly swallow simple answers, there are many more who hunger for authenticity and who wish to be nourished with a faith that feeds the depths of their beings. O, for a church which praised doubt as both a necessity and a blessing in the pursuit of the sacred and holy.
When strength fails me, hold me in your care
When ignorance surrounds me, grant me just a bit more wisdom in the moment
When fear invades my heart, open me to the pulsing power of your love
And when doubt creeps in, may it stir me to rise and wrestle with the great mysteries of your transforming grace. Amen
New Prayer Requests:
We ask churches and church leaders to join us in the following prayers either by sharing them during worship, printing them in bulletins, or sharing them in some other way. To make a prayer request, please contact Drew Page at firstname.lastname@example.org
Prayers of Intercession:
- for the people of Gaza were violence between Palestinians and Israelis is escalating.
- for the Rev. Persida Mendez's son Ray, who was hit by a car last week. Mendez is the associate pastor at Church of Christ, Congregational in Newington.
- for Rev. Tamara Moreland, Regional Minister for the Northwest Central Region, whose godfather Robert Blake died on March 31.
Prayers of Joy and Thanksgiving:
Please Remember These Connecticut Conference Churches
In Your Prayers:
Gilead Congregational Church UCC
Higganum Congregational Church
Kensington Congregational Church
The First Congregational Church of Kent
Congregational Church in Killingworth, UCC
This Week in History:
Apr. 4, 1968 (50 years ago): Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. is shot on the balcony outside his second-story room at the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, Tennessee. The civil rights leader was 39 years old.
Starting With Scripture:
April 02, 2018