Sunday, March 30, 2008

Doubting Thomas

Doubt is not the opposite of faith: fear is. Fear will not risk that even if I am wrong, I will trust that if I move today by the light that is given me, knowing it is only finite and partial, I will know more and different things tomorrow than I know today, and I can be open to the new possibility I cannot even imagine today. --Verna Dozier

Susan Russell has reminded me of Verna Dozier’s book the Dream of God which I read some years ago. It is an important quote that speaks so clearly to what is happening in the church today as well as today’s readings on the second Sunday of Easter.

I have always admired Thomas. I think I considered taking Thomas’ name when I entered religion. Thomas was not about to be a second hand witness to the resurrection. He was fearless when others were locked in rooms for fear of religious authorities. He said he would not believe until he had touched the wounds of Jesus’ passion.

All too often we are afraid to speak the truth—afraid of what will happen when we doubt the easy messages of those who live frightened in their hothouse churches that do not address the difficult issues such as war, human sexuality, same-sex marriage, rabid capitalism, poverty and globalization. We are willing to tell stories of those who have not seen and who say they believe but don’t live by faith. We have many churches that are uncomfortable and not at peace, but who are unwilling to address the difficult issues of life in faith.

Thomas’ was willing to say that he would wait until he knew that resurrection was the renewal of the heart. His is the most powerful statement of faith “My Lord and my God” in the Gospel. It is the statement that all followers of Christ are called to make. But that statement can only come when one acknowledges the pain, the scars of the passion that makes faith something other than just assent to some pious thoughts. Faith is bound up with the willingness touch others’ passions. To do less keeps the faithful huddled in their locked rooms unable to spread the true message of Christ.

Today I have heard of one congregation who has finally said that it is their building that is the root of all the acrimony within the parish. They have decided to see if they can sell their building and do something different. Now THAT is thinking outside the box! Who know what will happen in that congregation, but they having enough faith to rethink their whole mission and ministry. It is an Easter moment for that parish. They refuse to stay locked in their room. They have flung open the doors of their minds to remember what their mission and ministry in Jesus Christ. I hope they rename themselves too—perhaps St. Thomas. They have a story to tell—they have touched their own woundedness and have said it is time to embrace those wounds rather than ignore them. That is healthy living indeed. Alleluia, He is risen. The Lord is Risen indeed, Alleluia, Alleluia!

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