Saturday, April 30, 2011

Easter 2A - I doubt it

26A 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.” 27Then 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.” 28Thomas answered him, “My Lord and my God!” 29Jesus said to him, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe.” (John 20: 26-29)

I'm not preaching tomorrow morning; so, I'm sitting here watching the Red Sox play the Mariners wondering what The Rev. James Jones will offer to us. I think it's interesting to note that many Christians have some degree of doubt in Jesus' love for us. Conversely, many Christians believe that Jesus only loves us depending upon whether or not we "believe" the right thing about Jesus' salvation. Rob Asghar has written an interesting op-ed over at Huffington Post about this topic. He writes:

Jesus called his followers to be in the business of discipling an entire world in his teachings, not to be in the business of converting people in all nations to the Pharisee-like form of civil religion that American evangelical thugs accommodate.

I had a conversation with someone a couple of days ago who is having a hard time in their marital relationship. She and her spouse are arguing over whether or not God has a plan (of salvation) for the Jews. She says yes. He says no. My thinking is "Why would God create a centuries old covenant with Abraham and then change his mind when Jesus came into the world? I'm confident that Orthodox Christians have any number of responses to my rhetorical question. There's probably very little middle ground in our choices to reach consensus on the matter.

However, Jesus' encounter with Thomas provides an interesting response that I'm contemplating tonight. Jesus tells Thomas to "feel" the truth of Jesus' resurrection. We can't tacitly touch the risen Christ in the same way that Thomas did but we can assuredly believe that Jesus the Christ wants us, all of us to have confidence in God's covenant with us, regardless of whether we are a Jew, Christian, Hindu, Muslim, Buddhist, or Agnostic. The theological issue is not the degree of our orthodoxy. The issue of faith is whether or not we are confident that God desires human beings to live free of fear. The religious issue is not what elements of God's plan properly fit into our doctrinal categories. The issue is whether or not we will respond with trust when God is immanent and beckoning us to soften our hearts and minds so that we can reach out more compassionately to God and our neighbors .

Karoline Lewis has this to say about Thomas' encounter with Jesus and its impact for us. She writes:

This is a full sensory Gospel. Sometimes it's tasting (John 6), sometimes it's smelling (John 11), sometimes it's hearing (John 10), sometimes it's touching (John 13:23), and sometimes it is seeing. This is what it means to be human and to experience relationships as human beings. A full, intimate, meaningful relationship will encompass the entirety of who we are and what it means to be human. God wants nothing less than this kind of relationship with us.

I would assert that Jesus the Christ desires for all human beings to live life and live more abundantly regardless of what we cognitively think is true about his bodily resurrection or God's plan for salvation. Life beckons us to set aside our fears and embrace grace. We all have doubts. Jesus the Christ's message is that such doubts and isolation disable us from coming into a deeper realization of The Divine's presence in Buddhist temples, Jewish Synagogues, and Christian Mega-Churches alike. Sometimes God comes around in a You Tube video with a young man who isn't sure whether or not his song will work. I think he does quite well with Nickel Creek's thoughts about doubt. Take a look and a listen:

Blessings Along The Way

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