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“Thomas the Twin Reflecting”–John 20:19-31–April 12, 2015

“Thomas the Twin Reflecting” John 20: 19-31 4/12/15

Thomas was called “The Twin”–Didymus is the word–and maybe he’s the Twin of all of us. I consider him a fraternal twin of mine, in spite of the 20 centuries between us. It’s always bothered me that Thomas has been called “Doubting Thomas,” because it’s always said with that kind of shaming tone of voice–Mm, Mm, Mm, accompanied by that headshake. Like the other disciples were all that brave and believing and pure.

Thomas was the only one with guts enough to leave that upper room where the others were locked in on that first Easter night. And did you notice, they were still there, locked in, a week later, only this time Thomas was with them.

My twin brother, Thomas, was the one who, when Jesus said they were going to where Lazarus had died, even though they knew there were people there who wanted to have him arrested, Thomas was the one who said, “Let us go and die with him.” I’d like to think I’d have the same courage as my twin brother.

Paul Tillich said that “Doubt isn’t the opposite of faith; it’s an element of faith.” In fact, he said, “The opposite of faith is certainty.” I like that. “The opposite of faith is certainty.” If you’re all that certain, if you know who’s in and who’s out, what God is and what God isn’t, then why do you need faith? You’ve already got proof. “Doubt isn’t the opposite of faith…the opposite of faith is certainty.”

Khalil Gibran–the Lebanese poet who wrote “The Prophet”–put it this way–”Doubt is a pain too lonely to know that faith is his twin brother.” I think we’ve pushed Thomas – “Doubting Thomas”– away from us for too long, and we’ve become lonely in the process. Jesus didn’t push him away, –”he didn’t scold me”–and he won’t push us away either.

“The doors of the house where the disciples had met were locked for fear of the Jews,” John tells us. It wasn’t just the doors that were locked. William Sloane Coffin wrote, “You can’t think straight with a heart full of fear, for fear seeks safety, not truth. If your heart’s a stone, you can’t have decent thoughts–either about personal relations or about international ones. A heart full of love, on the other hand, has a limbering effect on the mind.” [cited by Kate Huey in sermonseeds, 4/12/15]

I guess that’s where I wish I were more like my twin brother Thomas–not locked down in fear, but out looking for answers. “The opposite of love is not hate,” God says in Neale Donald Walsh’s Conversations with God. “The opposite of love is fear.” I know fear shuts me down. I know it narrows my vision. The walls and blinders go up when I think about what might happen on those snowy roads, what random, crazy, wounded person is going to pull out a gun and start shooting, what we are doing to the air and the creatures and the water and to each other on this planet. “The opposite of love is fear.” “A heart full of love, on the other hand, has a limbering effect on the mind.”

Thomas, my twin brother, at least had a heart full of love. In that wonderful painting by Caravaggio, Jesus presents the wounds on his side to Thomas and Thomas reaches forward, practically falls into Jesus, his eyes wide with amazement. It’s almost as if, as someone has written, he’s saying,”There’s another world in there!” [David Lose, inthemeantime, 4/10/15] .

Thomas’s whole perception of reality changes when he looks inside those wounds. He’s no more certain than he was before, but he is full of wonder, full of love.

“Blessed are you,” Jesus says to him, “blessed are you who have seen, and blessed are those who haven’t seen, and yet believe, yet trust.” So, all of us are blessed as well, we who haven’t seen, but still, somehow, on the occasional Thursday morning, or a quiet Monday afternoon, –we are blessed when we “believe” or trust in the One whose wounds open up a whole new world to us.

Another of our twin brothers, Wendell Berry, suggests this approach– “Give your approval to all you cannot understand. Praise ignorance, for what [humanity] has not encountered, [we have] not destroyed. Ask the questions that have no answer. Invest in the millenium. Plant sequoias.” [from Manifesto for the Mad Farmer Liberation Front]

The Risen Christ gives us his peace. So, along with Thomas, may we give him our hearts. Let us pray…

Rev. Mary H. Lee-Clark

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