Updated: Jul 30
I’m going to try and preach this in a way that means you don’t have to look at your screen to participate. So let’s begin by resting our eyes, by turning away from our screens for a second. Find a comfortable posture in your chair. Feel your feet on the ground. Pause and listen to your breath.
The disciple Thomas gets a chance few of us get. How many of us get the chance to name the thing that we most need, to doubt that we can receive it, and then to reach out our hands and touch what gives us trust and faith?
Last week in my Easter sermon, I said that each of us has something that fuels our belief in resurrections. In that sermon I shared a prayer that grounds me. But deeper than the text of that prayer, underneath everything else, is story. When all else fails, I return to the power of stories to walk me from despair to hope, from death to resurrection. Stories remind me of my place in the universe, my part in the whole of God’s creation. I return often to stories of people’s movements much like the movement that Jesus led. Your point of return may be different: Song, scripture, silence, place, a person.
I invite you to spend a minute in silent reflection, or journaling, answering this question: What is that thing? What is the thing at the heart of your world? What do you return to when nothing else will hold you? Reflect or journal on this for a minute, then we’ll come back together.
Hold whatever you’ve written or reflected on. Now return your attention to your breath. Close your eyes or find a point off the screen to rest your eyes on. Breathe in, and breathe out.
Now move that center of attention from your breath to your heart. Notice whatever feelings are present in your heart. Maybe today you are feeling overwhelmed, or sad. Maybe today you are feeling connected, grounded...
With those feelings beside you, I invite you to imagine the room around you. The walls, the floor, the furniture. The people. Listen to the sound of the room. Listen to the sounds coming in from outside. The sound of your own breath.
I invite you to imagine a loved one who is not in the room with you. This could be an ancestor who has died, or someone who is still alive. Picture them. Now, imagine them joining you in the room. Feel their presence. Imagine them looking at you, smiling.
Invite them to come sit beside you. Feel their presence.
Now imagine, as they sit beside you, them turning to you. Smiling. They are telling you that they have a gift for you, hidden in their hands. Now imagine them holding their hands up to you, and opening them. Inside is that thing that reassures you, that you return to. Imagine them offering you just that thing.
How do you feel?
Take this thing from your friend. Hold it in your hands. Imagine that you can have this gift whenever you need it.
How do you feel?
Holding this gift, turn to your friend and thank them. Now, tell them goodbye. Imagine them saying goodbye to you. When they have left, and when you are ready, slowly open your eyes.
Today in this story, Jesus has changed. This is the first story the Gospel of John tells after the Resurrection story. And this person has become something different. I think he has become an ancestor. Jesus walks through walls to appear to be with his loved ones in the heart of their fear, their loneliness, their need. He brings the Holy Spirit into the heart of fear.
How was that experience for you? I invite you to take the next couple minutes to reflect in silence or through journaling. I will close that time with a prayer.
Thomas - Dee Dee Risher
Never let me be the one
Used to make a point
like the unfortunate Thomas,
yoked forever to “doubting.”
By implication: weak of faith.
Lifted up to instruct
generations in how not to act;
in the virtue of
believing that which one has not witnessed
and the dangers of asking for proof.
No, I like this man who bucks the crowd,
demands to see for himself,
goes against the grain. I like how
he wants to feel things,
dares to touch flesh,
as a way to become whole.
And then there comes the beautiful part,
the wind through the closed room:
Jesus’ hands lifting,
his soft voice offering Thomas
the thing he needed,
just that thing.
Photo Credit: Ali Zahdhan