Thomas answered him, “My Lord and my God!”
Jesus 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: 28-29
I know I have already mentioned how much love this Sunday after Easter and annual review of the realistic response of dear Thomas—who we all know really got a bad rap. I mean seriously, empty tombs and dean man sightings? How could you not have at least a moment of disbelief after all that had happened (to him and to us) and ask to see for yourself?
One of my favorite theologians, David Lose writes in his reflection this week that Thomas was a pragmatist, and instead of cowering in the room with the other disciples, had probably already taken steps to move on with his life now that Jesus was gone and all the hopes and dreams for change were smashed by the hammer and nails of crucifixion. And as a pragmatist, he would never have believed the others when the told Thomas they had seen Jesus. “His demand to see and feel the mark of the nails in Jesus hands,” Lose suggests, “is less a request for proof than it is mocking the disciple’s claim. He makes that demand, in other words, because he knows it will never happen; it’s a request as absurd, even ridiculous, as what his friends are claiming. …what changes when Thomas is confronted by the risen Lord is not that he is no longer a doubter – he never really was – and certainly not his realism. No, what changes is his perception of reality itself. Of what is possible. Of what God can do. Even of what God can do through him.”
Jesus meets Thomas and us right where we are and “takes his mocking words and turns them back on him, not to humiliate or scold him, but simply to confront him with the possibility that his reality was too small, his vision of what is possible too limited. And when Jesus calls him to faith, he’s actually inviting him to enter into a whole new world. “ I love the promise that that even those who do not see, can have faith. And we do. Until we don’t.
It is so easy for the pragmatist within to fall back on our need for facts and data and realism. It is so easy to let the practical outweigh the possible. It is so easy to hunker down with the stuff and forget about the Spirit. When we fall back, we forget. We question. We demand proof. We even feel like we have lost faith at times. But if we remain open, if we but show up for the possibility, there is always one in our path who will let us stick our fingers in the wounds of our questions and show us what we need to be changed.
Beloved, we need each other to remember the vision of the Kin-dom of heaven that Jesus preached—where love wins and all are at the table. We need each other to call us all to action on behalf of that Kin-dom here on earth. We need each other to preach the vision and purpose of our fledgling faith community to hold on through the work of business meetings and building bylaws so that we have courage to go out and carry the good news of Christ’s resurrection. We need each other to hold a “vision not defined by failure but possibility, not governed by scarcity but by abundance, not ruled by remembered offenses but set free by forgiveness and reconciliation.”
This is what Thomas discovered in that moment when Jesus said, see, here I am, reach out your hand and put it in my side. Thomas didn’t have to stop being a realist—he just had to face his “too-small-perspective and let his whole worldview change—by the Christ he discovered in community.
May we keep our vision big even as our community is small.
With blessing and prayer, Rev. Wendy