“On the Outs” John 13:31-35

 

When he (Judas) had gone out, Jesus said, “Now the Son of Man has been glorified, and God has been glorified in him.” – John 13:31

I’m trying to imagine this scene.   A little context is important in hearing the Gospel lesson for today.  In John 13 Jesus is assembled in the upper room with his disciples on what will be his last time with them all together.

He will wash their feet.

He will break the bread and pass the cup, and tell them to remember him.

He will give to his disciples the instruction to “love one another” – more than once.

Jesus will do all of this with the betrayer still close at hand.

Let’s not kid ourselves, for despite the turmoil pictured in Leonardo’s “Last Supper” and the objections of “Is it I Lord?” from all the disciples when Jesus indicates that one of them will betray him, I think that pretty much everyone around the table knew what Judas was up to.

There were no surprises in his actions, in fact the Gospels want to make it clear that Judas has been suspect all along.   In all of the Gospels he is identified early on as the one who betrays Jesus.  It’s practically his last name.  “Judas the betrayer.”

When Judas pops up in Gospel stories he is usually noted for his contrary position on things.

He is way too preoccupied about finances.   As keeper of the common purse we are told in John there are allegations that he dips from it for his own personal use while criticizing the expenditures of others.

That Nard, don’t you know, could have been sold for 300 Denarii, not wasted on Jesus’ feet.

We can say, “poor Judas, he never had a chance.”

But, truth be told Judas hangs out with Jesus this whole time, and despite his seeming to be a pain and a betraying scoundrel, we’re told in this passage that his actions or presence somehow “glorifies” the Son of Man and God in the end.

“Betrayal must be necessary?”  We quizzically ask, and then we get into that whole pre-determined and pre-destined messiness of Jesus just keeping Judas around for the necessity of having a scapegoat.  Someone had to turn Jesus in, it was dirty business, but then that is what Judas was known for all along, that is why Jesus kept him around… to do the dirty business in the end.

I don’t like that explanation of Judas much. I reject a simplistic explanation that leaves Judas “on the outs” and condemned.

I reject it, because I don’t see it in Jesus.   I can’t imagine Jesus cynically just putting up with and keeping Judas around for this one awful moment where someone had to betray him.   That lets the other disciples off the hook way too easily.

I reject it because at any given time the same concerns expressed by Judas are also on the lips and minds of the other disciples.

It isn’t just Judas who is bent out of shape about money and costs.

Philip is the one who protests that “six month’s wages couldn’t buy enough bread to feed all these people” when Jesus suggests that the disciples give the crowds at the feeding of the 5000 something to eat.

Peter is the one who tells Jesus in no uncertain terms that he doesn’t want to be talking about things like going to Jerusalem to suffer and die, that’s just bad for recruiting!

Matthew the tax collector probably had more than one raised eyebrow at the cost of Jesus’ actions.

Thomas is the one who shrugs his shoulders before the Lazarus event and says, “let us also go, so that we may die with him.”

John and James are either arguing over where they get to sit when Jesus claims his throne, or they are trying to call down fire to fry hapless bystanders.

In the Garden of Gethsemane they all fall asleep.

Despite being shown by Jesus how to deal with demons, when pressed to take on the task, they fail because they forget to pray.

No, it isn’t that Judas is alone in being a disappointment to Jesus, or is singled out for this particular task from the beginning.  As the Gospels unfold you get the distinct feeling that at any given time any one of the disciples might have been the one to betray Jesus, and they all did in their own way.  It was just Judas in the end who made the last great one.

So, I am trying to imagine this scene, what it must have been like when Judas left the room and Jesus piped in with these words about him being “glorified.”

And it occurs to me, I know this scene.   I have lived it.

It has happened when the Bishop (or in your case maybe, the boss) has gotten up and left the room and there is this collective sigh of relief let out because now you can talk freely and openly, and it’s not just you that was feeling the tension.   Not that the Bishop (or the boss) is going out to betray you, but as long as that person was in the room, the conversation is guarded, and tense.   There was a sense in which you couldn’t say what you wanted to say.

It has happened in the meeting when the antagonist, the one who is always looking over everyone’s shoulder gets up and finally leaves and the work group breathes a sigh of collective relief.   “Now we can talk about things freely again.”

It happens in the unspoken rules of relationship, when there is tension in the family, or a breach in the covenant between lovers.  The icy cloud descends.   We care, but do not feel we can express it.   We assume or expect the other will come clean, or apologize first, or will back down.

It happens when the illness strikes one member of the family, and the fog of silence fills the room so that no one dare breathe a word about the fears or dreads are that everyone is feeling.   No one dares speak out loud or acknowledge what everyone in the room is actually thinking.

I know this scene, probably too well.

When Judas, who is “on the outs” walks out, finally the opening appears that will allow the others to vocalize what needs to be said.

What needs to be said can be said, and so Jesus leads off here, and what he says is breathtaking.

It is said out of love, and with a directive for all who are also breathing this collective sigh of relief as the betrayer leaves the room.

“Love one another.”

This is the real test you see, what is said when the person who is “on the outs” leaves the room.  This is the measure of whether the Son of Man is glorified, or whether God is glorified.

We have this all backwards.  It isn’t Judas’ actions of betraying that will be glorify anything.    Betrayal is betrayal, plain and simple.

It is what happens now inside the room.  That is about the Son and God being glorified.

Look, we all know where he is going.  We all know what he is going to do, but knowing that, can we still love him?   Can we still love one another?

The Son of Man IS glorified in this, because Jesus knows what Judas is up to and still chooses to love him, and to call his disciples to do the same!

God IS glorified in this, because God is going with Judas even in the midst of this most unsavory and unfortunate decision he is making.

God does not abandon him, but walks with him.

Perhaps YOU cannot go where Judas is going.

For sure YOU cannot go where Jesus is going.

But, this you can do.  You can choose to love, even knowing what he is up to!  Even knowing about what is about to come.

In that God is glorified!

In that the Son of Man is glorified!

In that everyone will know that you are Jesus’ disciple, if you have this kind of love for one another.   Love that is active even in the midst of and in the face of the betrayal you know is coming.

Love, even in the midst of being “on the outs” with one another.

Love for one another, even when every fiber of your being screams that you want to do is reject, throw out, disassociate yourself, and let that S.O.B. rot in his or her own private hell of their own making.   They made their choice, let them live with it!

That attitude glorifies no one.

Oh yes, I’ve lived this scene, over and over again, and I am not proud to say that I have failed it.

I’ve made other choices than the choice to love.

In the moment of anger, in the moment of frustration or hurt or disappointment, loving that person is not what has come into my mind, and no one was glorified in my actions.

I’ve gossiped when that person has left the room.

I have joined in the jeering and cheering and the derision of them.

I have spoken the disparaging words, criticized, rolled my eyes, probably even plotted how to get back, or entered into the “we’ll show him/her…” conversation… what to do with the Judas in our midst.

But that is not what happens in the Gospel.

That is not what is shown to us by Jesus this day.

There is no “meeting after the meeting,” when Judas leaves the room except to hear Jesus say that curiously now it is like he has passed a test.

Now he is glorified, and God is glorified… because he chooses to love and calls his disciples – calls us–to do the same…. to love one another even in the face of betrayal!

Most of the time I think this is just too high a calling, how can I even attain it?   I know my natural tendencies, where I tend to “go” first.

But still, Jesus is adamant.

This is what we will be known for.

This is what will be the mark of who and whose we are.

This is the proof of a resurrection life.   A life that is no longer bound to the limits of the expectations of this world.

It could have been any of the disciples that betrayed Jesus.

It could still be any of us, on any given day.

But still Jesus persists in saying in this he, and God will be glorified… when we choose to love when loving is the hardest thing to do.

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“No Sheep Tricks” — John 10:22-30

No sheep tricks today.

Yes, I know it is Good Shepherd Sunday and all, and usually we reflect on some dimension of Jesus being the Good Shepherd, or we lift up the nature of sheep, or talk about how we need to be led, or get all “Pasture-ized” in some way.

But it’s not any of the sheep talk that catches my attention in the Gospel this time.

This time as I read it, the sentence that I tripped over was this one:

“So the Jews gathered around him and said to him, “How long will you keep us in suspense? If you are the Messiah, tell us plainly.”

Yes!  By all means, this following of Jesus as his disciples would be a heck of a lot easier if Jesus would just tell us things plainly, and not leave us in suspense!   Not leave us in a perpetual state of wondering if we are doing the right thing, or how things are going to work out, or if certain things should be done, or left alone, or when we are to do any one of the myriad of things that in fact Jesus has “shown” us to do.

Could you just tell us things plainly, Jesus, and take the mystery out of life and how we are to live and what we are to do day to day?

But no, Jesus has to go all “parable” on us.  He has to throw out these pithy sayings over which we will argue as to their meaning for us!

He does it right here, in the face of the Pharisee’s demands for him to speak plainly.  Jesus insists that he has, and then goes off on some tangent about his sheep hearing his voice.

You know what I would like?

I would like Jesus to use the available technology before us today to tell us plainly what he expects of us as Messiah.

Wouldn’t that be good?

I have “Google Calendar”, and so does the church, I’ll bet you do too.  Heck, Jesus could just download the expectations he has for me there as Messiah, and then when I get up in the morning it would be all programmed in for me, and my day would lay out without any question of what I was supposed to do.

Or better yet, Jesus could just text me instructions, send “Push Notifications” to me on my smartphone.

Imagine, if you will, what that would be like.   My phone beeps a reminder.

8:55 a.m. – In ten minutes meet the homeless person on the corner of 64th & I-29 as you drive by.   Give him $10.00 out of your own abundance, because it’s the thing to do.  Jesus.

9:11 – About that $10.00 you just gave the homeless man.  Remember that a gift is a gift, don’t second guess what he will do with it. – “Judgement is mine sayeth the Lord”  – Jesus.

9:20 a.m. – Take a phone call and freely offer building use for a group in need of a meeting space, because you have been blessed with the space and they are in need – oh, and everything belongs to me anyway, remember. – Jesus.

11:00 a.m. – Person walks in off the street needing gas funds.   Fill their gas tank out of your own pocket, you can afford it. – Jesus.

Noon – Purchase lunch for secretary, she needs a break and with her second job she didn’t have time to pack a lunch. — Jesus

1 p.m.  – Send out a letter to all St. James members reminding them that “the Lord loves a cheerful giver,” and if every household who worships there regularly would set aside give an additional $200.00 dollars over the course of this year you could install the door for the food pantry and purchase the new sign out front with an addition $12,000.00 to spare for other ministry.   This would of course mean you will have to give up one Latte a week, or the price of one happy meal.  I hope that is not too much of a sacrifice to be suggested to feed the hungry and tell the good news.  — Jesus

2 p.m. – Write your own personal check for $400.00 as the Leadership Gift for that effort because you are the pastor, and to whom much is given, much will be required as a leader, – so that the door and sign can be expedited and members can be encouraged in their own generosity.  — Jesus

3 p.m. – Stop everything you are doing and devote an hour to personal prayer and reflection on the book of 1st John.    Do not fall asleep.  Do not daydream.  You may go for coffee, but no, the Messiah reminds you that you do not need a pastry or slice of pie to go with that coffee, and you should strike up a conversation with someone at the coffee shop to share good news with them over that coffee if you’re going to go sit there. – Jesus.

4 p.m. – Cook dinner for your spouse who has put in a much longer and more stressful day than you have.   Encourage her, she’s got hours of homework to grade and lesson plans to do, and you’ll just be watching t.v. later.  – Jesus.

7 p.m. – Meet with Committee at St. James to remind them that what they do is less important than in whose name they are doing things, and how they treat each other trumps whatever it is they think they ought to be doing.  

If you need help with that, reference John 21, and, oh, the the 1st John 4 passages you were supposed to have reflected upon at 3 p.m. when you had coffee.    

Remind them that “love one another” applies to them. 

Remind them that the 8th Commandment is still in force, so speak well of each other explain each other’s actions in the kindest of ways. – Jesus

 

See, wouldn’t that would be a heck of a lot easier?  Just tell me plainly what to do, Jesus!

Isn’t that what you’d like from Jesus too?   To wake up tomorrow morning, pop open your calendar and see the Messiah’s marching orders downloaded all in place, or to get a direct text or “push notification” from him with no room for variation, or for interpretation, or for deviation, and certainly no space for argument!

Just do as you are told, by Jesus – and everything will be crystal clear!

Yeah, I didn’t think so either.   —  Nobody likes a “pushy” Messiah!

This is one of those requests that you really don’t want Jesus to fulfill, the, “tell us plainly” request, because if Jesus did tell us plainly, I think we would quite often find his commands to us intolerable.   We would squirm and flinch and probably think twice about this call to follow.

Which, I suppose, is why Jesus did tell us plainly, but why he chose to do so by coming in person to live those directions instead of just downloading the daily recommended requirement for discipleship into our smartphone calendars.

Jesus has told us plainly, but he has done so by his own example and by introducing us to this Kingdom that he is bringing into our midst.

And, to make it all plain to us gently, over time, he uses those things that sometimes also drive us nuts.

Jesus uses those parables, which always had a way of inviting listeners into them, in order that they might see themselves and begin to ponder and to feel the nudge, or the conviction, or the direction they offered.

Jesus uses the sayings, the words that had a way of pricking at hearts and tugging at people’s consciences, and making us all wonder from time to time, “is this what God would really have me do?”

Jesus tells the stories, and does the healings, and feeds the hungering, and welcomes of the sinners, tax collectors, the outcasts of society into his presence.   He has told us plainly that he is Messiah by going into all those places where he makes us feel uncomfortable.  Places where God is perfectly comfortable, with people in whose presence we wouldn’t want to be caught dead, but who God see as his… well, … his sheep, — the flock of his own redeeming.

“I have told you, and you do not believe. The works that I do in my Father’s name testify to me; …..”  Jesus says, when this demand comes his way to “tell us plainly.”  And then he starts talking about sheep again, and how when they hear his voice, they just “know” it is him, and know what to do.

It’s not that Jesus doesn’t tell us plainly.

It just that we lack the ability to listen, or to hear, or to simply trust.  Which, is all those things Sheep know to do with their shepherd, the one whose voice they trust.

I just suppose Jesus just doesn’t know how to get any plainer in showing us how to accept those who we find repulsive than reaching out and touching lepers to heal them.

I suppose Jesus doesn’t know how to get any plainer than sitting down and eating with those whom nobody else wants to give the time of day.   There is just no clearer way to get the message through than by making his disciples join him there, as uncomfortable as they may be with the whole thing.

This is what you should be doing.

This, instead of pointing fingers at one another, arguing over which of you is the greatest, the most important, how money should be spent.

This, instead of trying to get the good seats at the left and right hand of me.

Sit down here with me and with those who have no portion in this world, and share bread and conversation.   Learn from them.

I suppose Jesus just doesn’t know how to get any plainer than washing his own disciples’ feet and giving them that kind of example for what they should do for one another, and as a concrete way to remind them to “love one another.”

And, Jesus probably doesn’t know how to make things any plainer as to what the Messiah wants you to do than he did in telling the parable of the Good Samaritan, the Prodigal Son.

It comes down to this, it appears.   It’s not that Jesus hasn’t told them plainly that he is the Messiah, it’s a matter of whether or not they, or for that matter we will trust in his voice when we hear it.

That’s the question for us all, I suppose, because likelihood is none of us are getting reminders on our phones from Jesus, but likelihood is that we are getting messages from him in the faces of our neighbors, and fellow members of the flock, all the time.

“Love Me More Than These?” John 21:1-19

Pastors are not immune to the realities of public reading and wandering minds.  A word or phrase will trigger some other thought, and off you mind will go.

So it was with today’s Gospel.

Peter starts out this lesson with, “I am going fishing.”  At this time of year that phrase will often set my mind to wandering of memories of fishing with my grandfather, my father, my son, or friends from previous parishes.

My mind is on the fish.

So as I read this through and got to the place where Jesus and Peter are sharing the shore lunch, I was still thinking “fish.”

“when they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, ‘Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?”

And because of my wandering mind, the first mental picture I had of this scene was one of Jesus and Peter looking down at the remains of the fish they had just eaten.   So I thought,, “do you suppose Jesus was talking about the fish when he asked Peter if he loved Jesus more than “these”?

It began to occur to me that I had quite by accident stumbled upon the legitimate key to this story.

Jesus may indeed be asking Peter which he loves more, the fish they are eating, that way of life, or the life he had chosen in following Jesus.

The whole story revolves around Peter exerting an enormous amount of energy, leadership and influence into the task of getting those fish.    It’s his idea to go after fish again.    He’s the one who puts out the boats, directs the party in the all night endeavor which gains them nothing.   After Jesus appears and gives them the ridiculous directive to “try the other side of the boat,” it is Peter who jumps in first to get to shore, and then jumps back in to retrieve the net and fish at Jesus’ command.   He is clearly the leader of the party, the focal point of the story, and everything in the story revolves around fish and Peter’s attempts, both failed and successful, to get “these” fish.

So when all is said and done and Peter has eaten his fill of the catch he has so longed for and labored over, Jesus says to him; “which do you love more, the fish, or me?”

While that may sound like a silly question, it’s good to step away for a bit and think about it.   It is a question finally about whether or not Peter gets any satisfaction out of what he has put so much work into getting.   And suddenly this story leaps across the years and becomes very contemporary.

Isn’t this the burning question for our day and age?    “Do you love me more than these, whatever the “these” may be?

We phrase it in so many ways.  There was a bumpersticker a few years back that read, “the person who dies with the most toys wins.”   And for a while we thought we knew what life was all about.  It was about being successful, gaining, and getting ahead.  We aspired to a standard of living greater than our parents.

And before that, our parents were enamored with the “American Dream”, and they thought they knew what life was all about.    They held to the belief that if you worked hard enough, long enough, anyone could succeed, could buy a house, advance their standard of living beyond that of their parents.

And before that, our parent’s parents were lured by the immigrant dream, and they thought they knew what life was all about.  In America there were streets paved in gold and that here there was plenty for all, an inexhaustable amount of resources and land for a person to do with as he pleased.   Freedom to believe and worship as he pleased and before that….

You get the picture.  Before that there was Peter staring down at this plate of “these” fish that had seemed so important a little while ago.

Fishing had seemed so important before he met Jesus.

So it was natural, I suppose, that Peter had tried to go back after again after the terrible events and disappointments of Jerusalem, and the strange appearance in the upper rooms.    He figured that after all that, he finally knew what life was all about, where he needed to apply his energies, his time, and his talents.    He was born to fish, he should go back to that!    Leave the conflict and contrasts of Jesus’ proclaimed Kingdom and go back to the world as it made sense to him.   You get fish, you sell them, you do as you please with what you haul out of the lake.

But now, with the taste of that life still in his mouth, Jesus asks him the crucial question. “Do you love me more than these?”   And suddenly that which seemed so satisfying, which seemed most important, catching fish, is bland and meaningless.

The Gospel lesson today prompts us to consider what it is that we put so much of our energy into, what we think is most important, what we think life is all about.   Consider it, and then measure it against Jesus’ question, “do you love me more than these?”

It is an important thing to consider, precisely because it is so very easy to apply all our energy, effort and resources into unproductive ends, and we are in good company when we make that mistake.

Peter does it,  forsakes his call to discipleship, dismisses the three years of Jesus preparing him for ministry to go after these again fish, and it takes  an encounter with Jesus to bring him back into consideration of what is most important in his life.  What he is really “born” to do.

The apostle Paul does it in the Acts story for today.   He is doing very energetic work, persecuting Christians with fervor or zeal, nobody does it better!

If you had asked Paul how he felt, about his job satisfaction level while playing the part of the Pharisee he would have plainly told you “Great!”

It takes an encounter with the resurrected Jesus on the Damascus Road to get him to re-examine his life, to dare to ask what is more important, what is he really meant to do?

So it is at least conceivable that the question might fit you as well.   What do you love more than Jesus?   Your work?  You hobbies?  Your profession?   Acknowledgement?   Fame?  Money?

You can of course apply yourself all you want, where ever you want to.  You can work as hard as you want to, but that is no guarantee that what you are pursuing is satisfying or right.

If you want another contemporary example of that, you need look no further than the front page of the newspaper or other media source.  If you look at it you will find examples of people who pour themselves into their work, their job, their career, or maintaining their celebrity status.   You know these people, hear about them, read about them.   They make you shake your head sometimes.   “How could anyone think that was THAT important?”

But they do, and who or what will help them ask the question that re-examines their actions?

The Gospel proclaims that it is in the encounter with Jesus that we gain validity and a sense of purpose for our lives and our efforts.    It is in the encounter with God in Jesus Christ that there is given to us a sense of clarity and direction that is not our own, but which comes from the Lord of Life who knows what life is all about.   And it’s not about “these,” whatever the “these” may be for you.

Beloved in the Lord, the Gospel today reminds us that we have a God who meets us in Jesus Christ and who asks us to examine where we have put our love, our trust, our energy.     Today Jesus stands on the shore of your life and shouts out to you, “Getting anything from that approach to life?”

If the answer is an honest “no”  then he may give directions, even silly ones or obvious ones that take a lot of pride swallowing to try, but just might result in a fantastic results.   “Do you love me more than these?” Jesus asks, of what you are currently pouring you energy into.   How will you answer?

“Bring Out Your Doubt” John 20:19-31

“Bring out your Doubt!”    (Clang)

“Bring out your Doubt!”       (Clang)

Okay, so here is the truth about the second Sunday of Easter, everyone is a little tired after all of last week’s activity.   We get the same gospel reading every year on this Sunday, — the one about the locked doors of the upper room and Jesus breathing on people and Thomas doubting and demanding to see Jesus for himself.

So, when all those things come together, — the tiredness and the familiarity, a pastor can get a little punchy.  Reading about Thomas this time I had a flash of association with an old Monty Python skit in my mind.   Monty Python and the Holy Grail, where it’s the time of the black death and the cart of dead bodies is rolling through the village by with a worker, while another worker calls out “Bring out your dead!”

It is a thoroughly inappropriate image, dark humor.  It makes fun of an event that killed an estimated 75 million in the 14th Century, almost 1/3 of the population of Europe.   In the skit there is a little old man that isn’t quite dead yet but that his caretaker/son seems to want to get rid of him, so he tries to throw him on the cart.

“I’m not dead yet!” the old man asserts.  So a thoroughly inappropriate solution is found.

Anyway, as I read the Gospel that parodied phrase kept rumbling around in my mind.

“Bring out your Doubt!”

It certainly appears that after the events of Resurrection we are invited to do so, to bring out our doubt.   Like the little old man in the skit, sometimes we are reluctant to do that.   Doubt doesn’t want to come out yet!

Thomas certainly brings out his doubt.   “Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands and put my hand into his side…. I will not believe.”  He insists, and yet he continues to hang out with the disciples, even a week later.

The other Disciples don’t parade their doubt, but they are still sitting behind locked doors for fear.  That’s a passive acknowledgement of their own doubt.   Doubt is brought out front and center for them in this, that they are huddled away despite the urging of the women to go to Galilee.

We see doubt brought out in the other gospels as well.  Almost immediately after the events of the resurrection are recounted, even with Jesus in their midst or standing before them, or appearing by the lakeside and eating fish with them, some continue to doubt.

“Bring out your doubt!”  (Clang)

There must be something to this point of bringing out the doubt then!   Something important about acknowledging it as opposed to hiding it away.   John’s Gospel will even say as much, “these things ARE written so that you may come to believe in Jesus the Messiah…”

Bring out your doubt!   (Clang)

So, just as an exercise today, I’m going to ask you to bring out your doubt.    It needs to be brought out into the light of day, acknowledged, even acted upon if we are going to come through to the promise of the resurrection.    So take a few minutes, turn to your neighbor, and bring out your doubt.

What is it about the Resurrection that you’re not so sure about?

What is it about the church that you have your doubts about?

What things cause you to doubt your faith, or your fellow human, or the future?

“Bring out your Doubt!”  (Clang)

 

(Space for Doubt Bringing Out)

 

How was that as an exercise?

Did you find out that some people have the same kind of doubts that you do?

Did you find your own faith perhaps strengthened as you listened to either that other person’s doubt, or perhaps their deep conviction, what they hold to and believe despite living in a world where doubt is always hanging around?

This is the rather amazing thing about the early church that we sometimes forget to notice.

They are not afraid of doubt.

They are not afraid of voicing their doubt.

They are not afraid of even recording in the gospels the fact that not everyone was on board with Jesus right away.

Why is that?

Doubt tends to make us nervous.   We see it as weakness, or as confidence slipping away.   We build whole advertising campaigns based upon not letting doubt be known.

“Never let them see you sweat” –

We think that if you show your doubt in something, it’s the first step toward a downhill tumble.

Loss of confidence.

Loss of faith in things.

The Stock Market will swing wildly on a rumor.  It does not like uncertainty.

This world will avoid doubt at any cost!   Bring it out!  Get rid of it!  Only then can we stand secure in our own convictions.

But for the early church it is quite the opposite.  They didn’t stand confident in their own convictions, their own assertions, their own experience of a Risen Lord.

No, they intuitively understood that the remedy for doubt is not bucking up yourself, it is voicing it and then in the midst of community overcoming it by listening to one another’s stories.

Thomas is confident.   “Unless I see for myself….”

But that confidence in his own perception melts away in the midst of community, when Jesus meets him there with others.   Faith ends up being a community effort!

Faith is not something that we arrive at on our own.  It is found in the sharing of the story.  It is found in the breathing of life into the stories of how the Risen Lord meets us in daily life.   It is found in being willing to share with one another our doubts so that those who have met the Lord most recently can speak faith into us.   They can say, “We have seen the Lord.”… and tell the story of where God came near to them.

“Bring out your doubt!” – for that is the beginning of faith.

Tell your story of how you need to see something, …. Anything…. And then let someone speak of their experience into it.