Page last updated

 

CONTACT DPS

 

 

 NAVIGATION
 MINISTRY TOOLS
 DPS COMMUNITY
 MEMBER SERVICES


Date: 21 March 2004
Time: 08:30 AM

Comments

April 19th is both Holocaust Remembrance Day and our celebration of Earth Day, and the lectionary textx for this week don't seem appropriate. Does anybody have ideas on better textx to use, or on how to work within the lectionary for this week?

Thanks.

California Preachin'


Date: 03 April 2004
Time: 01:50 PM

Comments

Actually, having Holocaust Remembrance Day on April 19th is timely. What I'm considering as the focus of my sermon (taken from the John text, but stopping before the Thomas story) is that the suffering, death, resurrection of Jesus set us free to make righteous choices/decisions.

What caught my attention in this text is that after Jesus speaks, 'Peace', he breathes on disciples to receive the Holy Spirit. Then he moves into forgiveness and explains what happens when we choose to forgive/when we choose not to forgive.

What really struck me is that he doesn't command or even recommend to the disciples which choice to make: To forgive-to not forgive. It's now their choice. Fully. Because the Spirit indwells them. They are no longer captive to making the unrighteous decision. But, free to be responsible.

Response-ability: The ability to respond.

It seems to me, that most folks in culture & church want to be told what/what not to do, act, think, believe. This resurrection text challenges that western Christian ethos. We are free. Free at last. But, it means thinking, discerning, and making informed decisions.

That's the direction I'm headed. Lisa from Snellville


Date: 05 April 2004
Time: 11:47 AM

Comments

The proclamation of Easter continues in John's gospel as Jesus appears to his disciples. Jesus' words to Thomas assure us that the blessings of the resurrection are also for those who "have not seen and yet believe."


Date: 05 April 2004
Time: 11:56 AM

Comments

"Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of his disciples which are not written in this book." This phrase has been bothersome for those seeking to defend the Christian faith to the skeptical. Certainly John, if he were serious about making his case to the doubting, would have provided all of the admissible evidence.

Evidence. Witnesses. Judgment. Punishment. Legal language and courtroom imagery abound today. "I need evidence!" we hear Thomas say to the disciples. "Unless I can verify your claim, I will not believe." Jesus is on trial once again, this time to prove the authenticity of his resurrection.

Yet, can the authenticity of the resurrection be proven? Faith must pick up where certainty leaves off. In "Glimpses of Grace" (Crosswicks, 1996), Madeleine L'Engle writes, "The Resurrection...is beyond the realm of fact (Do you believe in the literal fact of the Resurrection? No! I believe in the Resurrection!) and bursts into the realm of love, of truth, for in Jesus, truth and love are one and the same."

Indeed, the proof is provided by powerful witnesses! In Acts we read, "we are witnesses to these things, and so is the Holy Spirit whom God has given to those who obey him." What, then, is the function of the witness? To persuade with facts? Or, rather, to be a character witness--to witness with one's life?

In fact, a life-changing event has taken place. The very use of the book of Revelation alerts the worshiper that a judgment of eschatological proportions is about to be issued. The psalmist, too, alerts us to the justice of God, which will prevail. "The right hand of the Lord has triumphed! The right hadn of the Lord is exalted!" And the psalmist rejoices that he has not received the sentence of death: "The Lord has punished me sorely, but he did not hand me over to death."

We, with the psalmist, can rejoice. A "life sentence" has been issued. May we, as the prayer of the day asks, provide the ultimate witness and "show the power of the resurrection in all that we say and do."


Date: 08 April 2004
Time: 07:28 AM

Comments

The gospel writer interprets the experience of the followers of Jesus after his death and resurrection. The disciples are described as fearful, and we can imagine their grief. But Jesus is present among them, not just once but twice. Each time, Jesus brings peace. In fact, Jesus imparts three gifts to the disciples (and to the church in all times and places): the Holy Spirit, peace, and a commission to carry out God's "forgiving work." This passage is often called "John's Pentecost" because of the gift of the Holy Spirit. The peace Jesus brings is shalom, not just the absence of fear but the presence and possibility of wholeness and integrity as a community. The challenge of the commission to forgive is to "let go."

The risen Christ also brings the gift of assurance that "believing is seeing." We usually restrict our attention to those things right in front of us. But God's gift of faith is a way of knowing that takes us beyond this. Faith is a lens that opens aspects of reality we might otherwise miss. It is knowing the presence of Christ in our midst. Think of two friends walking through the woods. One is a birdwatcher, the other not. The birdwatcher knows all about birds, so she sees birds everywhere, all the time. When she remarks on their abundance, her friends says, "What birds, where? I don't see any birds."

What transforms Mary and the disciples--including Thomas--is a personal encounter with the risen Christ and the gifts he brings. How do our communities of faith occasion this encounter? It is not enough to tell the story: Mary told the disciples that she had "seen the Lord" and the disciples told Thomas, but each still needed a personal encounter. It's an exciting possibility to imagine that even those who "have not seen" may "come to believe." How are we a part of that transformation?


Date: 09 April 2004
Time: 08:07 PM

Comments

Do you ever wonder what it was like for Jesus at this time in Jesus' life? He had endured the cross and death. He now had this great resurrected body that must have felt so great. He seems to have all the time in the world to drop in on his friends and surprise them at their locked house, Emmaus, the beach, the garden as a gardener. What a blast Jesus must have had being able to walked through locked doors and appear and disappear at will! Does this give us something to look forward to when we experience the resurrection of the body and the beginning of life ever lasting? The focus (in commentaries) is always on the people who see/encounter the Risen Christ, but what about Jesus himself? Is He still enfleshed even now as He sits at the right of the Father? Wondering. TiminOH


Date: 10 April 2004
Time: 10:26 AM

Comments

This is my off-tangent musing, follow it and you may get lost...

Why didn't Jesus asked "where were Thomas?" in the first appearance? He just went on and talk about receiving the Holy Spirit, going out, and forgiving sin... At the risk of being understood as "inward looking", I am getting frustrated with the pressure for connecting to irregular-crowd (aka CEOs.) If they are not there, then they are not there. All we can really do is to tell them, "You should be there! We've seen Christ there!" They have to make an effort for being there too!

When Scripture here talked about "A week later his disciples were again in the house, and Thomas was with them..." (v.26), we can't assumed that they meet once a week, and Thomas simply show up the next week. But perhaps they could hang out for a few times without any significant appearance of Jesus too. But Thomas still show up with his friends, and finally got to see the risen Jesus!

There are people who show up at church some day, and disappear a few weeks later. All we can do is be glad that they were there, and love them genuinely when they were there. Was it the responsibility of the pastor to visit everyone who miss church, or is that the responsibility of every single believer?

Boy, I am grumpy today... Thanks for putting up with me...

Coho, Midway City.


Date: 11 April 2004
Time: 09:19 AM

Comments

Coho in Midway

Somebody posted on the April 11 forum something you might find to feed your pseudo-grumpiness. It's almost at the very last of the submissions on that date and makes reference to no longer feeling responsible for C and E Christians. I agree.


Date: 12 April 2004
Time: 02:34 AM

Comments

I see a lot of who we are in this passage. Either closed up behind doors with our faith or doubting if there is something to believe in much like Thomas. Jesus comes and reveals himself to the fearful and the doubting. He encourages them to answer his call to go out and be apostles of the Good News to the world.

Jesus breaths the Holy Spirit into them. The last time this happened in the bible Adam came to life. I see this as a new life the apostles are about to begin with Spirit power and I find it interesting that it all happened Easter Sunday evening. They too are risen to a new life as apostles of the Gospel message. KB in Ks.


Date: 12 April 2004
Time: 05:16 AM

Comments

From Kathleen Norris' _Amazing Grace: A Vocabulary of Faith_: p.63. "When I first stumbled upon the Benedictine abbey where I am now an oblate, I was surprised to find the monks so unconcerned with my weighty doubts and intellectual frustrations over Christianity. What interested them more was my desire to come to their worship, the liturgy of the hours. I was a bit disappointed-- I had thought that my doubts were spectactular obstalces to my faith and was confused but intrigued when an old monk blithely stated that doubt is merely the seed of faith, a sign that faith is alive and ready to grow."

West Texas Presbyterian


Date: 12 April 2004
Time: 05:26 AM

Comments

Peace is knowing Christ despite our worldly doubts. Peace is knowing that this life and it's trials and tribulations, is temporary. The peace Christ leaves is the peace that sustains by the power of the Holy Spirit. Nancy-Wi


Date: 12 April 2004
Time: 07:36 AM

Comments

My Easter sermon, borrowed from somebody on this site, was that if Jesus can break the bonds of death after what was done to him, surely he can break the bonds of the afflictions we suffer. Doubt is one of those afflictions. He will not leave us to figure things out for ourselves. He will provide the answer and the way to make it through whatever comes our way, including doubt.


Date: 12 April 2004
Time: 11:17 AM

Comments

"Was it the responsibility of the pastor to visit everyone who miss church, or is that the responsibility of every single believer?" My pseudo-grumpiness indeed was fed from last week's Apr. 11 postings and I am just carrying it forward to this week. Fortunately, I think God is dealing with my question above in next week's text in John 21. Thank you so much for many of your symphathy.

Coho, Midway City.


Date: 12 April 2004
Time: 12:57 PM

Comments

I wonder: where was Thomas? I don't see him as "not worshipping" with the others; I mean, they were terrified, hiding away, afraid, that they might suffer the same as Jesus if they were found.

Was Thomas hiding somewhere else? Was he hiding at all?

Give Thomas a break! The other disciples did not believe before seeing Jesus, so they are no "better" than Thomas. What is very comforting to me: Jesus bestows his peace on believers and the doubting ones without discrimination. Can we do the same?

A little personal note: my husband, a constant doubter, finally decided to get baptized this Easter day - after finding a church in which he, the doubting one, found unconditional love and peace.

Germanpastor in CA


Date: 12 April 2004
Time: 03:12 PM

Comments

Interesting devotional on "My Lord and My God!" I get these by e-mail.

http://www.gospelcom.net/rzim/publications/slicetran.php?sliceid=612

JG in WI


Date: 12 April 2004
Time: 05:54 PM

Comments

My understanding of Andrew's absence was that he was so overtaken by his grief that he chose to be alone, away from even his friends.

1) It might have been that he was too overwhelmed to be around any reminders, which the disciples would be. After all, they were probably still talking about the events in Jerusalem.

2)It might have been he just didn't handle things well and leaving was his defense mechanism.

3)It may have been that he went to be alone to pray.

But, for me, a major point of this part of the story is that we need to seek the company of others - especially those who completely understand our situation - to help us get through it. If Andrew left to be alone to do his grieving, he missed his chance to receive the support the others might have offered, and he missed the chance to see hope standing right in front of him. When our lives take horrible turns, withdrawing from the believing community only keeps us from the spiritual healing that can be offered there. Just knowing that somebody is listening is a huge help. God may seek us out, as Jesus sought out Thomas, but others may not. It's up to us to let them know what it is we are carrying on our hearts, to go to them and talk about the hurt. They can't read our minds.

This leads me to think about Compassionate Friends, cancer support groups, all the other groups that are there simply because the people there understand what you're going through. Without them, some would stand alone, unable to see the hope that's out there.


Date: 12 April 2004
Time: 08:16 PM

Comments

A little off the text. I am looking for suggestion for confirmation gifts. Price range 5 to 15 dollars US. Nancy-Wi revncarmichael@yahoo.com


Date: 12 April 2004
Time: 08:19 PM

Comments

Coho The strangest thing when I first was appointed to the my church, I (like all of you I would guess) was ask to go see "so and so" and see if you can get them to come back to church! when ask why we they left rarely does anyone know or they don't want to share the reason. Crazy! Nancy-Wi


Date: 13 April 2004
Time: 04:41 AM

Comments

For confirmation gifts for the girls I have gotten them those Dedacho (sp?) angels and focus on their unique gifts; the angel of friendship, the angel of courage depending on their personalities. The guys seem to like chains; necklaces. I have also gotten them necklaces with our denomination symbol on them.

Hope this helps! dchinks


Date: 13 April 2004
Time: 06:03 AM

Comments

I came by for the Bible study and the company, but I'm not preaching this week. You DPSers are an important part of my life: you keep me going spiritually, emotionally, and intellectually! God bless you all.

Now, may I chime in?

This pericope resounds sooooo much with me because it was specifically MY own doubt that led me into the ministry. God actually USED my doubt. This is not just in the linear-logic way: where we doubt, we seek, and where we seek, we find (though this, too, is true). I wholeheartedly believe God called me IN the very heart of my doubt - so that my faith cannot be defined by intellect, orthodoxy, how I was raised, or anti-intellect-orthodoxy-rebellion. I was called to ministry prior to believing in God, BTW. The interesting (and, I daresay, fun for me) byproduct of this is that I can have theological conversations with atheists and -uh- shall we say religious nonconformists and actually understand them where they're at.

I'm with the poster who said "Give Thomas a break!" probably because I want a break, myself! but, really, when you think of it, these were the first days of the resurrection - it could be entirely likely that someone PRETENDED to be the risen Christ. Rumors had to be flying like wildfire. The idea that we believe on someone's word alone is just plain old naive: are we expected to believe everything we hear just because the words "God" or "Christ" or "Jesus" are in it? Consider the email hoaxes that abound today. THis is not a new phenomenon! I think Thomas was simply being sensible.

------\\

Next, to you grumpy CEO preachers. I hear you: and I agree there are two sides to the story. It's hard to know when to be the instrument of prevenient grace knocking at the door of a seeker. And when it's simply not your job, and an unfruitful use of your time. Someone said something about being tired of taking responsibility for the CEO's. It's like the inactive members in your church: haven't we all heard from our laity, words like "maybe if we start singing the Doxology here instead of there, they'll come back." Someone who's not even there or interested in being a part of the community is dictating what the community does. It's a fine line we walk on.

Sally in GA


Date: 13 April 2004
Time: 06:08 AM

Comments

I'm not one who thinks that doubt, in its conventional definition, is something to be overcome. Before each stage of growth, don't we have an uncomfortable period of doubt?

I recall a "Church Ad Project" poster that shows a picture of a man with medical tape over his mouth. The caption reads, "the only problem with churches that have all the answers is that they don't allow questions." This, unfortunately, has been my experience and the experience of many.

This is a GREAT opportunity to reach CEOs - a number of them will attend this week, too, in the desire to turn over a new leaf. My sister is one such ... Please, somebody, recognize her.

Sally


Date: 13 April 2004
Time: 06:10 AM

Comments

one last one and then I'll shut up ...

I've had difficulty for over a week getting onto the "Discussions" page. Is it me, or are y'all having the same difficulty?

Sally


Date: 13 April 2004
Time: 07:30 AM

Comments

If anyone is looking for some nicely done criticsm in favor of the resurrection, something to use to refute any modern-day doubting Thomas', then I would recommend this site:

http://www.leaderu.com/everystudent/easter/articles/josh2.html

Nigel+


Date: 13 April 2004
Time: 10:14 AM

Comments

I am going to focus on Thomas as being the witness for today. We all have our doubts and struggles with faith. We can relate well to Thomas and he did the seeing and believing first. Now we can take his doubt with ours and then take his believing with ours. We are those that need to believe without seeing and touching, so we can take Thomas' witness for our own. BD in IN.


Date: 13 April 2004
Time: 11:16 AM

Comments

How about the cure for doubt? Is it proof? Anybody going to look at the debate between religion/theology vs science? I dug out my yellowed C.S Lewis Primer - The Grand Miracle. You know this is comin up at Gen'l Conf. for us UMC's. And will we yet discover who we are? How will we be blessed to come to believe?

MrBill in MI


Date: 13 April 2004
Time: 11:32 AM

Comments

Thanks to West Texas Presbyterian, from a Tennessee Presbyterian. My sermon title this week is "Daring to Doubt" capitalizing on Beuchner's definition: "Doubts are the ants in the pants of faith. They keep it alive and moving." When we doubt, question, even debate, we open up the possibility for growth and transformation. Thomas wanted proof, he had to experience it for himself. So do we all, we all need to experience the resurrected Christ to believe. We simply can't take someone else's word for it. But our questions open the door for that experience.

Tom in TN


Date: 13 April 2004
Time: 11:40 AM

Comments

Whoever is looking for confirmation gifts - for boy or girl, try one of Bryan Sirchio's CD's. I'd especially recommend "Come As UR", "Artist's Hand" or "Justice and Love" for teens. Go onto www.sirchio.com revjaw


Date: 13 April 2004
Time: 11:48 AM

Comments

2 nice quotes:

The unbelief of the day was described by the Quaker, Rufus Matthew Jones, an early twentieth century philosopher, and social reformer, as the tragedy of trying to live a maximum life on a minimum of faith.

Another contemporary writer, John Drummond summed up the difference between unbelief and doubt in this way. In regard to faith in Jesus he says:

“Christ himself never failed to distinguish between doubt and unbelief. Doubt is can’t believe; unbelief is won’t believe. Doubt is honesty; unbelief is obstinacy. Doubt is looking for light; unbelief is being content with darkness”.

Nigel+


Date: 13 April 2004
Time: 01:02 PM

Comments

My turn to be "grumpy" now, I guess... I'd rather face an entire town of doubters than have even a handful of literalist Bible students who refuse to believe there is more than one way to interpret Scripture. Their absolute non-doubt about everything they have been taught in their weekly national Bible study group gives me the cold chills. Where is the room for the Spirit to move? Where is the place for discussion? There is none, because they already have the whole truth ingrained in their heads. Give me Thomas saying "please show me" over this "God said it, and that settles it for me" any day of the week.

KHC


Date: 13 April 2004
Time: 02:40 PM

Comments

Sally, your comment that God reached you "In your doubt" really sent some sparks in my thinking. In was way God does that for everyone?

I am going to show some clips from the first Matrix... the one who doubted that Neo was "the one"

I am with you KHC, I endured 13 years hosting a certain national women's bible study in my last church. In many ways a great organization, but the attendees who came from that background were some of the most obstinately dogmatic believers I have known.

When theology is taught as a list of conclusions, it makes it hard to accept and admit doubt. Plus you can't have as much fun with the Greek and Hebrew...ha.

Stan from Tacoma


Date: 13 April 2004
Time: 03:56 PM

Comments

My Senior Pastor used to call the Sunday after Easter "Low Sunday" because the attendence was always down. Therefore he always let me preach that week as the associate.

After 15 years of that I have a couple of ideas.

I love the first part of the passage, John's Pentecost. Jesus breathing on the disciples is a beautiful image. He is standing toe to toe and face to face with the disciples and breathing on them. The way he gives the holy spirit is similar to the way God gave the spirit in Genesis when God created a man out of clay and breathed into it the "spirit of life." The first spirit gave us life, the second one brings us eternal life.

Be at peace, receive the spirit, you are toe to toe with Jesus. Feel his presence!

The second part of this text with Thomas is also important. He represents all of us. Those who doubt, Those who wrestle with doubt. Jesus says blessed are those who believe and have not seen. Ask your congregation if they know anyone who has believed in the Resurrection without actually seeing it. Have them look around the room. Of course all believers fall into that category. But you can remind them that Jesus' has said they are blessed!

FYI

Final note, Elaine Pagels new book, Beyond Belief is fascinating. She suggest that much of the book of John is a reaction to the Gospel of Thomas. Her speculation is that the reason Thomas is not present when the spirit is given and the power to forgive is declared is because Thomas community is in opposition to John's and therefore without the spirit.

I don't think this will make my sermon, but it is interesting to consider.

Be at peace, The best is yet to be, Rev Ed in MN


Date: 13 April 2004
Time: 05:37 PM

Comments

Use the psalm for Earth Day! Let everything that breathes praise God! MMM


Date: 13 April 2004
Time: 07:00 PM

Comments

It's hard to believe we are still talking about CEO's! That means it must be an interesting subject.

We pointed out that there are actually seven Sunday's in Easter. We then encouraged everybody to attend all of them for the full realization of the power and grace available through our risen savior!

RZS in Pa


Date: 13 April 2004
Time: 08:10 PM

Comments

I've spent the better part of today typing out my Adult SS lesson for the next 6-7 weeks. The subject (although seemingly misplaced after Easter) is the Arrest, Trial and Crucifixion of Jesus. I spent a great deal of time today writing about Jesus in Gethsemane. Doubt filled his heart about whether this was the "only way". You know the rest..... If doubt can afflict the Son of God, surely it is part of every believer's life. Jesus prayed his way from doubt to conviction. We might need another avenue, but we can get there one way or the other. God bless us in our seeking.

KHC


Date: 14 April 2004
Time: 04:06 AM

Comments

Long time reader, first time poster! I, too, think Thomas has been given a really bad rap! As a matter of fact, I think the opposite is true of Thomas-- therefore, my sermon is going to be titled, "Believing Thomas and the Deer in the Headlights." I know, it sounds pretty wierd, but before you call the nice people in white coats to come and put a straight jacket on me, let me explain. I submit that a closer reading of the gospel reveals that Thomas required nothing more than the other disciples to believe that Jesus was alive. Jesus comes in and says, "Peace be with you." I can almost imagine ten faces just staring at him [e.g. Deer in the headlights]. "After he said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord." They saw the wounds-- THEN they rejoiced. They had to see to believe. When they tell Thomas what happened, of course he was skeptical. He had witnessed the bumbling ineptitude of the disciples for three years-- Why should this be any different. So Thomas says, "Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands, and put my finger in the mark of the nails and my hand in his side [just as you have], I will not believe." However, when Thomas does see Jesus, he does not put his fingers or hands in the wounds. Instead, Thomas becomes the first person in history to understand who Jesus is. "My Lord and my God!" Thomas understood Jesus as YHWH! He understood better than anyone else! Again I imagine the blank stare on the faces of the other apostles. Believing Thomas required no more than the others to not just recognize Jesus, but to recognize Jesus as God, YHWH. This Sunday, we will give thanks and praise for the faith of Thomas! Sincerely, SimpleSeminarian


Date: 14 April 2004
Time: 06:50 AM

Comments

Simple Seminarian's comment about the Deer in Headlights reminded me of something that happened when I was in seminary. The prof in preaching class asked how many of us were afraid of public speaking. Every hand went up. Yet God still gives us the task.

It has been my experience that nothing evokes the Deer in Headlights look in church members faster than to tell them that Jesus said, "As the Father has sent me, so I send you."

I may begin at that point, and then take the congregation to the Acts 5 passage and talk about how these freaked-out deer became the courageous ones who filled Jerusalem with Jesus's teachings.

How did they get there? How do we get there?

GC in IL


Date: 14 April 2004
Time: 07:49 AM

Comments

"Doubt is merely the seed of faith, a sign that faith is alive and ready to grow" - West Texas Presbyterian had posted...

Doubt is not bad in itself, it's how you response to it would determine which way it goes, positive or negative.

In fact, if there is 100% certainty, would we need faith at all? (Would you need faith to turn on the light before entering the room? How about praying and expecting healing for someone?)

Glen Miller at "A Christian Thinktank" observed that people has different level of presiquisite for knowledge. Some need a lot of evidences to offset their skepticism, some need very little. But regardless of what are our "doubt-level", faith is the only way to know and experience God.

Mr. Bill in MI asked, "How about the cure for doubt? Is it proof?" I don't think proof would do the job. I think the main factor is the encounter, proof was just helping us to articulate that encounted-reality better to others. But perhaps, it depends how much intellectual work required for the "doubt-level" of a person.

And on each individual, there are different threshold settings of emotion, intellect, and will power, which produced different requirements to obtained faith. I think Thomas was just wired with a bit higher negativity built-in in his persona (not doubt, but negative, permissism) according to all the Bible references I dug up on him so far. And to him, Jesus graciously met him where he was.

Coho, Midway City.


Date: 14 April 2004
Time: 07:55 AM

Comments

Lisa from Snelville: Great ideas about preaching this for Holocaust. I'm still not quite sure where I'll go with it, but I will probably use some of your ideas. (I already planned to stop before the Thomas part of the text.

MMM: I decided not to use this week's Psalm for Earth Day but am instead using the beginning of Genesis for that and am arranging most of the liturgy (hymns, etc.) around Earth Day. I am preaching on the lectionary gospel text and focusing more on Holocaust Remembrance Day there. I chose a bit of Psalm 10 as the second reading, to also go along with Holocaust Remembrance/repentance.

Thanks for another good discussion!

Peace, California Preachin'


Date: 14 April 2004
Time: 09:02 AM

Comments

Sally, I haven't had trouble getting on, only time to do so.

"Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book."

How powerful this must have been, since only this is recorded and they didn't seem to need to record the others. Sort of like the minutes of a meeting. Discussion held, and this was the result when the future readers would be interested in all of the discussion.

Many good suggestions. The breath I am thinking of how this breath of life, is also the breath of hope, the breath of peace, and the breath of change. Nancy-Wi


Date: 14 April 2004
Time: 11:27 AM

Comments

I'm daring to do something new (at least for me) this week. My resident Lay Speaker and I are attempting a dialogue sermon on the Gospel text. I'm not sure how well it will go over with the 2 congregations, but it is something I've wanted to try & never had time to work out while I was in seminary.

We are focusing on v. 21 and addressing the question, "What Kind of Peace?" -- looking at several concepts of "peace" from the view of the world and from personal understandings of it and then focusing on what we understand the Peace of Christ to be. Since the two of us come from opposite places in our theology/political views, yet see some things in much the same way, I'm looking forward to seeing how this all turns out.

Meanwhile, I'm taking my Confirmation youth to the Conference Confirmation Rally this weekend -- a new experience for all of us! I am looking forward to it, but covet your prayers for the youth & myself!

Robbie in KS


Date: 14 April 2004
Time: 11:28 AM

Comments

As a kid named Thomas and getting all the smirks from the other kids in Sunday School whenever we talked about "Doubting" Thomas I take it as my mission in life to come to his defence. Mary told the others that she had seen Jesus but they didn't seem to believe it either until he appeared to them. Thomas just happened to be out. Who knows why, maybe he was picking up a pizza or burgers.

The text does not say Thomas actually touched Jesus, so we may see him as one who in the end, having seen the risen Jesus, did not need the strongest form of confirmation that Jesus was alive. In other words, even Thomas was not wholly devoid of faith, or at least was not unwilling to believe when he saw Jesus, unlike some characters portrayed in this Gospel. Thomas enters the story as a clear-eyed realist who knows that following Jesus back to Judea means risking death. He calls others to go with Jesus even if it means dying with him (11.16), but Thomas does not understand that Jesus' death will be his exaltation. He does not understand where Jesus is going (14.5). He cannot comprehend an appearance of the risen Christ (20.25). Realist more than doubter, Thomas stands in for all who, like Mary Magdalene, embrace the earthly Jesus but have yet to recognize the risen Christ.


Date: 14 April 2004
Time: 12:44 PM

Comments

I served for many years on Outdoor Ministry staffs, and one of our most interesting icebreakers to play was called "Favorite Scar Stoy". The kids would really open up to one another about events in their lives that led to them having scars, both funny and extremely emotional. I only offer that at the root of it all, Thomas needed to hear the Jesus' story again to take it all in that the one whom they had loved and followed had died and was raised. I know I still remember vivdly some of the stories that were told to me even though years have passed and names have faded. It is in the sharing of our suffering and the knowledge that Jesus' fully understands it that we can cry out, "My Lord and My God!" PBG in IL


Date: 14 April 2004
Time: 01:40 PM

Comments

I cannot resist the implications of v. 26 and the phrase, "Although the doors were shut, Jesus came stood among them," and see this as a metaphor about our lives being closed and walled off from the epiphanies of God. We sometimes talk about the scene of Jesus standing at the doors of our heart and knocking to enter in. Clearly, this is part of the picture. What happens on the other hand is God's action to intrude into our lives, to come barging in with life and light. Isn't that what grace is all about?


Date: 14 April 2004
Time: 02:09 PM

Comments

At a continuing education event a couple of years ago, I heard one of the best descriptions of doubting Thomas that I have ever heard. I loved it especially, because my brother, Tom, was always our "doubting Thomas." The words I heard at this event were used about 3 weeks later at my brother's unexpected death, as a part of his eulogy. Anyway, this is what was said,

Doubting Thomas gets a bum rap for being called "Doubting Thomas" because he really didn't doubt Jesus, he doubted the words of the disciples. (With Good reason. He had traveled around with these clowns for 3 years, witnessed their lack of faith etc.) He was a man of integrity, who would not say he believed in something he didn't. He wasn't afraid to ask the tough questions. And the most important thing is that Jesus met him there. Not with any condemnation or judgement, but allowing him to see the evidence he needed in order to believe. And his response was "MY LORD AND MY GOD!"

Susan in Wa.


Date: 14 April 2004
Time: 02:19 PM

Comments

The two images in this passage that I love to address are: 1) the door shut, and the disciples locked in fear inside.And Jesus coming in and standing with them. (That sometimes Jesus does come to us, uninvited, into our fears and gives us peace.) and 2.) That even though we sometimes lock ourselves up in fear, we are still called to go out and be the "sent ones." and that Jesus, again, gives us the peace and power of His Holy Spirit to do as we are called to do.

Susan in Wa.


Date: 14 April 2004
Time: 06:48 PM

Comments

v. 30 is kinda strange..."Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book."

What other signs/miracles are needed to convince the disciples after his resurrection?

I mean, what more needs to be done... :?) if they (Thomas included) didn't get it now, when would they? How many signs are enough?

Just curious...

pulpitt in ND


Date: 14 April 2004
Time: 07:14 PM

Comments

I'm with KHC. We sometimes are intimidated by the "believers" that quote the scripture and it is their way or now way. We need to let our people know that it is OK to doubt, that it is not all black and white like some waant you to belive. God gave us minds to use and reason with.

Phil Presbyerian from Montana


Date: 14 April 2004
Time: 07:55 PM

Comments

Maybe Thomas was the only one brave enough to go outside of the locked dooors.

DGinNYC


Date: 14 April 2004
Time: 08:02 PM

Comments

There are plenty of reasons in our world to lock ourselves away in fear and doubt. But Jesus comes to us, like he came to the disciples, and before we can say a word, he gives us his peace. While Thomas had conditions before he would believe,Jesus puts no conditions on this gift. He gives his peace not because they believed, but in order that they would believe, and it seems to me the message of this Gospel is that it's the same for us. And this peace frees us to go out into a world not because it is suddenly free of conflict but because the risen Lord is with us.


Date: 14 April 2004
Time: 08:36 PM

Comments

I don't have the citations on me at the moment, but I remember a discussion on Thomas that noted various other times in John when he asked Jesus questions that were very legitimate--"How can this be?" kinds of questions. I remember its being said that he only asked the questions that the other disciples were too chicken to ask.

We're dedicating copies of "The Faith We Sing" this week--I was going to preach a happy Easter-y thing based on the psalm, but this discussion is very good and important. I really like the link that GC in IL made between the locked up, scared disciples in John and the unafraid witnesses in Acts.

Laura in TX


Date: 15 April 2004
Time: 04:42 AM

Comments

I love stories.

I love the way the easter story told last week is retold in similar way this week.

Last week, it was early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark

This week, it is evening, on the first day of the week. …

Last week it was in the morning, this wee, we are on the same day but in the evening.

Seems to me, in the same way the day began, it ends.

Easter day began with Mary Magdalene and the rest of us expecting Jesus to be in a locked up tomb

And then we find that locked up tombs cannot keep Jesus in!

Easter day ends with the disciples and us thinking themselves safe in a locked up house (their condition of fear makes the locked room a tomb of sorts!)

And then we find that locked up rooms cannot keep Jesus out!

………still working. Storyteller


Date: 15 April 2004
Time: 05:35 AM

Comments

When it was evening on that day, the first day of the week, and the doors of the house where the disciples had met were locked for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said, "Peace be with you." (John 20:19)

.... and the doors ... were locked for fear of ....

What do we make of this? The disciples were in hell. They had denied and abandoned their Lord. It wasn't only the Jews they feared, they feared their own fear, they were full of guilt which binds us. Their shame was overwhelming. The very Lord they had followed and given their lives to, they now have left to die alone. They had forsaken Jesus and found "safety" in the upper room. Jesus felt physical pain, but he suffered the loss of his Father and his initmate friends at the moment of his passion and death.

We must not go past this first verse too quickly for it contains the seed of the disciples' experience of resurrection. We must be very clear. Resurrection is not primarily about the God-man, but about us. Being confronted by the Crucified and Risen Lord brings us into a new creation, new life. We are the one's raised from the dead! Raised from our fear, our rejection, our weaknesses into Christ. Only when we probe the mystery before us can we like Thomas, bend the knee, and proclaim "My Lord and my God."

tom in ga


Date: 15 April 2004
Time: 06:33 AM

Comments

Stan: you're sooo right! God reaches EVERYone in their doubt; it's called (in Wesleyan terms) prevenient grace.

There's something about doubt, though, that I absolutely love. I like the Buechner quote, "Ants in the Patns of faith." I'd heard that, but had forgotten it until now.

It was when I was preaching about God reaching us in doubt that a member of the congregation (who, I admit, was bent on finding SOMEthing wrong regardless of what I said or did) stood up and hollered out, "Anyone who would doubt the resurrection of Christ is from the devil! I'm leaving!" and he tossed down a $100 bill wrapped up in a $1 and left.

Since the congregation was stirred up, we stayed to talk about it afterward - (because of the reverberation in the room and his being in the last pew, I hadn't made out his words - only that he was hollering and angry) and the concensus was that, "Well, it's nice that his faith is strong enough to not have doubt, but most of us still doubt." Though I tried to talk about doubt as a blessing, it was like they couldn't wrap their minds around the concept.

Where is it we get the impression that doubt is to be overcome? We can't willfully conquer our own doubt - and I think that this is the trouble with many literalists: they're every bit as human-centered as the "religious nonconformists" I mentioned in my earlier post - and yet, they use the God-talk to leverage others into being somehow intimidated, or in a position that makes it look like doubters have less than desirable faith.

But hey (and he'd followed me from the other church I'd preached at that morning where he also left $101 in the same fashion, but without the hollering - it was a circuit), my doubting Thomas side got $202 for the Kingdom

Sally


Date: 15 April 2004
Time: 06:36 AM

Comments

just read through the rest of the posts:

tom in ga - you hit the nail on the head! Y'know, when you think about it, the rest of the disciples were doubting pretty strongly, too. They were, as you said, in hell. They were afraid of the JEws. They'd denied and abandoned the one they proclaimed "Lord.'

Just because Thomas is up front about his belief - why does he get such a bad rap? (and this is me projecting my stuff all over the place)

Sally


Date: 15 April 2004
Time: 08:34 AM

Comments

Sally, that's an astounding story about the "anti-doubter." But I can't imagine why he would leave $101 in each place. Why $101? Why anything, for that matter, but why that unusual amount? Any ideas? - LB in MN


Date: 15 April 2004
Time: 12:12 PM

Comments

Sally,

I don't think Thomas gets a "bad rap" unless you believe that to doubt is a bad thing. How could he or the rest of the disciples do anything else. The resurrection stood outside their experience and categories - it is not something easily grasped. O, I know Jesus told the disciples that he would "rise again on the third day", but they had no context in which to place that statement. Doubt is simply the response to resurrection!

What Thomas does, that they other disciples do not do, is to probe the wounds of our Lord, for it is only through the cross that the resurrection is comprehended. Jesus told Mary Magdalene not to "grasp or cling to him" but here he invites Thomas to place his hands in his hands and his side, an invitation to explore, and to know who was standing before him. It is Thomas and the rest of the disciples who are drawn out of themselves, forgiven, given the gift of Shalom, anc called to mission as they are raised from the death of their own understanding.

tom in ga


Date: 15 April 2004
Time: 12:47 PM

Comments

Interested in the idea that we should give up on the C&E's. Are not these the person's Christ came and died for? "I have come to save the lost." Seems to me that Jesus didn't have a lot of time for Church folks. If I give up on the people on the fringe I Pray Jesus doesn't give up me.

MM in OH


Date: 15 April 2004
Time: 01:18 PM

Comments

I'm not giving up on the C and E's. They are part of our church family, absent or present. But I have decided this is a two-way street, and they just want to be on the receiving end all the time. I spend hours a week in conversation (phone or in person) or writing notes to our absentees or visiting their homes. They love all the attention. Maybe they figure if they came back to church, they would not get as much. The church is here to love them, and we do, but they must somehow respond to that love with more than continually snubbing us. Should they decide to return to Church, they will be treated like it's only been a week since they've been away. My prayer is they will come back, but the choice is theirs. I'm done worrying about it.

Doubt is not their problem. They don't like the time of worship. Some say it's too early, some say it's too late. We're not big enough to split into two services - by a long shot.


Date: 15 April 2004
Time: 06:25 PM

Comments

Locked in or locked out...

I like the image "story teller"...

thanks,

pulpitt nd


Date: 15 April 2004
Time: 07:13 PM

Comments

Hi!

Part of the discussion is about 'why wasn't Thomas there the first time?' In line with DGinNYC who commented that it was because he was the only one to go out, perhaps the explanation was just too simple to bother giving. And that is why it is not given.

Maybe, as we would say here, "Thomas had gone to the dépanneur to get a litre of milk for the coffee. It was going to be a long night."

(That is, Thomas had gone to the 7-11 or corner store for a quart of milk.)

peace

kent in Québec


Date: 15 April 2004
Time: 07:29 PM

Comments

Sorry... that should have said "In line with DGinNYC who commented that it was because he was the only one BRAVE enought to go out,

kc in qc


Date: 16 April 2004
Time: 05:30 AM

Comments

Some would argue that Gospel of John is a re-write of the Gospel of Thomas and the writer of John leaves Thomas out of the picture on purpose.

Don


Date: 16 April 2004
Time: 05:35 AM

Comments

This week I have been simmering on the idea of the other disciples might have asked Thomas "Where have you been?"

Last week we had a young couple return after a year and a half. (the kind the congregation is always asking for, Married and 2 young children.)

They told my wife they would not be back, that the church had not changed. The nursery worker had asked in a negative tone (normal) Where have you been! Other people offered less than warm welcome.

To be brief, the couple had problems, probably still do. They made the step of returning home on Easter and the judge and jury looked down their noses and sentenced them to a life in Hell with a few innocent sounding words.

Hope I can be true to God's direction and not speaking with a switch in my hands.


Date: 16 April 2004
Time: 06:01 AM

Comments

"They told my wife they would not be back, that the church had not changed. The nursery worker had asked in a negative tone (normal) Where have you been! Other people offered less than warm welcome."

Maybe the church needs them more than they need the church (and not for money, but for a lesson on discipleship). The people have had problems, and they are in need. However, I would say the church also has problems, and that the church is also in need. A little give and take on both sides would probably be good.


Date: 16 April 2004
Time: 06:14 AM

Comments

Someone wondered:

"Why wasn't Thomas there on Easter Day, why did he come a week later?"

We are Thomas! We are the one's coming late, in a different time, a different cuture, a different world view. We are the ones being invited to probe the reality of the resurrection by touching with our heart and our hands the crucified Bread of Life.

tom in ga


Date: 16 April 2004
Time: 06:41 AM

Comments

I just heard from one of my candidates who is in an area church that she met a couple who visited our church. It was affirming and frustrating, because the man talked about what I'd preached on (this was over a year ago) and some images I used! My candidate asked me, "Do you rememb er the sermon?" I said, "Heck, I preach 52 weeks a year, I barely remember last week - much less last year" Anyways, the message was still sticking with him.

What also stuck with him is that no one spoke to him from the congregation. That the atmosphere felt lackluster and unfriendly.

Sally


Date: 16 April 2004
Time: 06:46 AM

Comments

Oh - sorry - didn't finish the thought (thinking in small sound bytes again - I'm probably a candidate for ritalin) ...

I think of that man and his wife, who visited, when I read through the CEO Christians comments.

It's not always the CEO's fault (like Kwame, who also got an unfair rap last night) that they're CEO's.

Sally


Date: 16 April 2004
Time: 07:39 AM

Comments

In all of thomas's doubt he hoped, he waited. Nancy-Wi


Date: 16 April 2004
Time: 08:42 AM

Comments

April 15 2004 I am with you on the necessity of doubt, but without elevating it too high. John WEsley, St Jonn of the Cross etc would say that doubt and peace have a hard time walking hand in hand. Perhaps it is why Jesus keeps bring in peace in this text. carol in ga.


Date: 16 April 2004
Time: 09:18 AM

Comments

I choose to call Doubting Thomas - Honest Thomas - because I believe he reflects the reality in so many Christian hearts. Also the passage gives probably the words of greatest comfort to many "Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe." We live with our doubts about the specifics but believe the overall message of Jesus. I guess you can say I'm a "broad stroke Christian" RevRip


Date: 16 April 2004
Time: 09:32 AM

Comments

It occurs to me that this story is at least partly about the reality that our faith does not come to us second-hand. It is the direct experience of Christ in our lives that confirms what we have been told and gives substance to our belief.

JKS


Date: 16 April 2004
Time: 11:37 AM

Comments

Don't remember where this came from, but: Maybe the disciples were hiding because of what Mary Magdalene had told them, "I have seen the Lord!" Perhaps those words alone had brought fear to their hearts. Just hours before His death, they had all professed that they would never leave Him, even be willing to be killed along with Him. If Jesus were now alive, what would He say to them? What would He do to them? Would He say, "So, you were going to stand by your Man, huh?" "Going to fight for me, eh?" "Where were you, James and John? You always wanted to be one on my right hand and the other on my left. Where were you when I was being beaten, when I was stumbling my way up Golgotha, when I was strung up to die?" He could have told Peter, 'I heard your denials, and I heard that rooster crow." They might have thought that Jesus was going to find them and take out his anger on them just like He chased the moneychangers out of the Temple. So they hid behind locked doors, not out of fear of the Jews -- but out of fear of Jesus. So Jesus comes to them, breaks through those locked doors of fear and brings them peace. ps in or


Date: 16 April 2004
Time: 11:41 AM

Comments

JKS, experiencing is indeed part of it. You can tell me the awe of the Rocky Mountains, the wonder of standing on the moon and looking at the earth, the beauty of the ocean floor, and I can believe your words. But they don't really mean much to me until I go and see for myself the splendor of God's creation, the heights and depths and expanse of it all. Until that point, it's just something you want to tell me about that you think I'd like or need to know. Andrew, and all of us, need to experience the Risen Christ to really understand who he is and what his life was all about. Not one thing wrong with that.

Thanks for pointing that out. Clears my head a bit.

KHC


Date: 16 April 2004
Time: 12:44 PM

Comments

In last week's text from John 20 Mary saw Jesus but didn't believe until she heard him speak. The disciples see Jesus in the locked room... Do they believe what they see? Or do they believe because they hear his word. Thomas does not believe what his companions say... until he sees and hears. How do we come to faith? By what we see or by what we hear or by what we experience? How are our congregations providing the seeing, the hearing, the experiencing? RW... a lurker in PA


Date: 16 April 2004
Time: 12:45 PM

Comments

In last week's text from John 20 Mary saw Jesus but didn't believe until she heard him speak. The disciples see Jesus in the locked room... Do they believe what they see? Or do they believe because they hear his word. Thomas does not believe what his companions say... until he sees and hears. How do we come to faith? By what we see or by what we hear or by what we experience? How are our congregations providing the seeing, the hearing, the experiencing? RW... a lurker in PA


Date: 16 April 2004
Time: 01:10 PM

Comments

How can I "see" that Christ is alive? How can I know he is still with us? Yes, I can carry that around in my heart and use that as my source of reference. But I can better see it when I see that the people around me have Christ living in them. As previously posted about the Passion movie, I'll believe it has had an impact when I see people treating each other with something akin to Christ-like grace, when love is the predominate emotion, when people who profess Jesus begin to act as Christ would have them act. So yes, seeing is believing, in that case. Seeing a change in the human heart and human action will bring belief that Jesus' resurrection means something. Until then, it is idle chatter.


Date: 16 April 2004
Time: 01:33 PM

Comments

God's first Law for us to obey has to do with our hearts:

Love.

Love unconditionally. Have unconditional Love. Matthew 5:43-48. Eccles 3:1-8.

So in one way, we first believe, we first have faith in....

but since what we believe in and have faith in is Love, which Love loves all belief and non-belief,

Love is not only what we believe in, Love is not only what we have faith in, but Love carries its own belief in itself, Love carries its own faith in itself, and Love is also the basis of all other beliefs and unbeliefs.

So Love is the basis of belief and unbelief, faith and no faith:

We love or we believe in Love or we have faith in Love in order to believe in anything else, and so we believe in Love before any other belief in any thing else and without believing in anything else. So it is in Love that we can have genuine doubts and so then in Love prove all things. 1 thess 5:21.

Then when we, in our belief in Love, also believe in anyone or anything else, that is a double-belief!

We believe in Love when we see and we still believe in Love when we don't see. So even when we do not see [including the sense of understanding] whatever or whoever, we still believe in Love and so in God! So that is what Jesus is saying to Thomas: Blessed in Love are they who believe in Love and so in God who is Love and so in Me who is Love, EVEN WHEN they do NOT see or understand anything else!

So we walk by faith in Love and by what we see,

and we walk by faith in Love even when we don't see! 2 Corin 5:7.

Thomas' problem is the general and common one:

Love of what we believe in and see BUT Hate of what we don't believe in or see or understand...which in practice becomes:

I have to see so I can believe and can believe in and so then to love,

and so when I don't see or don't believe or don't believe in, I also don't love, I also don't believe in love for who or for what I don't believe! I have double-unbelief!

Ah! Therefore Thomas' problem was two fold: not only did he not see but he also hated or did not see to love! He was in the attitude of not believing in Love nor so in God when he had not yet seen Jesus! He was in the attitude of hate when he had not yet seen Jesus! He had an attitude problem! He had a problem attitude!

So then even when he saw and so believed and so loved, his Love was still conditional and partial and unwhole and worthless and at a loss since it was conditioned on his SIGHT and so too on his belief! 1 Corin 13:1-3.

This first law of God applies to all words and their opposites:

When I lvoe me as weak and as strong,

I am doubly strong when i am strong: strong in Love and strong in wahtever,

and I am Love-strong, my Love is strong even when i am weak in wahtever! 2 Corin 12:9-10.

But when I only love being strong and hate being weak,

I am still half-weak, My love is still half-weak even when I am strong in wahtever,

and I am doubly weak when weak: my Love is weak and I am weak in whatever else.

So how do we come by faith? We come by faith by Love! Faith works by Love! So is we want more faith, we first have to do what God says to do first to get more Faith: as per usual, first get more Love! Matthew 22:36-40.

How? By loving yourself as all words so we can have faith in Love and in God in all conditions! Philippians 4:11-13.

So, who is not loving all words?

Just ask our congregations: Who do you hate in thsi church? Which other person do you hate?

Repent of that sin of heart in heart!

I love God to the extent I love the person I love the least!

Uh oh!

I hate God to the extent I hate whoever?

Yes! 1 John 4:20.

Then watch that faith grow too...automatically!

All Loveandrespect,

gordon


Date: 16 April 2004
Time: 01:54 PM

Comments

"Was it the responsibility of the pastor to visit everyone who miss church, or is that the responsibility of every single believer?"

No! We do not visit to prove we lvoe, or else no visit means no Love!

But we love in order to visit. Then Love is always present, is always visited on all, with or without visits! Then the unvisited would know that GOD has visited them, and so vists by NO other person is necessary, and so visits by all other persons are wants we can have or do without, and are a bonus and we are thankful for them!

By Love, NOT by visits, shall all men know we are God's disciples. John 13:35

It is the responsibility of each and of all to LOVE everyone who is present AND to love everyone who is absent!

How?

By loving myself as absent and as present

so I can love all who are absent as myself and love all those who are present as myself,

and so that no matter who is present or absent, my Love is ALWAYS present for them,!!!!!!!!!!!!! and so in THAT sprit of Love, they might as well be presnet JUST AS God and Jesus are present when LOVE is present!

Then in that Love, if I visit none, it 's ok!

Then in that Love, if I visit some or all, those visits are bonus and wonderful! James 1:

But If I hate being absent, ot hate being late, so that my Love is absent for the absent or for the late, then all my vists to ALL who are absent are not worth a hill of beans: I have my reward! Matthew 6, 1 Corin 13:1-3.

And of course, if in hate of teh absent, I don;t visit them, then I am doubly absent: absent is spirit and in body!

Of course, in Hate of the absent, I might as well not visit them!

Of course, in hate of the absent or of late-comers, I MUST repent of my sinful attitude towards myself, and God and all others: My Lord delays His coming! Luke 12:45-48.

l&r,

gordon


Date: 16 April 2004
Time: 02:13 PM

Comments

Gail O'Day (my preaching professor!) in the New Interpreter's Bible Commentary for me helps answer the question of why Thomas wasn't there. It's so that he can serve as the mouthpiece for the rest of us, as tom in ga says. Thomas states clearly what he needs to see to be able to believe, and Jesus, rather than reprimanding him for being faithless or shallow or sinful, gives him what he needs. The other disciples didn't rejoice or really "see the Lord," either, until he had shown them his hands and side.

The thing I love about O'Day's treatment of John is that she emphasizes over and over the great love of God for the world. Jesus meets his disciples to give them what they need to believe, then the same for the one guy who had to take everybody else's word for it, and finally Jesus includes all of us in his love by blessing us in advance, we who have not seen Jesus's body, yet have come to believe.

As someone else mentioned, the peace that Jesus breathes into his people in effect re-creates them and gives them that part of him that will make them able to live as his body. It's all love and invitation. We definitely have to face our own death to accept it, but such graciousness somehow softens even my resistant heart.

Laura in TX


Date: 16 April 2004
Time: 07:15 PM

Comments

Re: Confirmation gifts. I give the book "Old Turtle" - technically it is a kids' book but it transcends age and is beautiful. Barnes and Noble often gives a discount if buying for church. L in M


Date: 16 April 2004
Time: 08:58 PM

Comments

‘Mary Magdalene had told them, "I have seen the Lord!" Perhaps those words alone had brought fear to their hearts.’ “ps in or”

I agree with this…

Just who was it that the disciples were afraid of anyhow? The Leaders / Romans or perhaps Jesus himself? Could it be that the disciples were afraid of persecution from without and yet also tormented from within? If Mary Magdalene had truly seen the resurrected Christ, what would this Messiah say to those who had deserted and abandoned him in the hour of his need? But Christ comes to the disciples and tells them simply “Peace be with you”.

The disciples were afraid of external persecution and were tormented by internal doubts and regrets.

Jesus comes to them in their fear and provides his deep peace, the Holy Spirit for guidance and instruction, and a commission to go out into the world to proclaim this freedom to others. They were, by God’s grace, given inner peace in order to face a sometimes hostile outer world.

Many today have quite the opposite problem… The people in the pews may seem outwardly quite calm while hiding the inner turmoil and doubts that plague them. It’s these people who need to hear this message of peace during services this weekend.

KB inMN


Date: 17 April 2004
Time: 12:15 AM

Comments

Why did God send Jesus?

I asked people to try and write their answer (succinctly on a scrap of paper).

Jesus said, 'as the Father sent me, so I now send you'

I asked them to look at their written thoughts - 'there's your mission statement - for whatever purpose God sent Jesus, so He now sends us'

Pretty freaky, but opened up the passage in a whole new way for many people.

kc in sydney


Date: 17 April 2004
Time: 08:58 AM

Comments

To my sisters and brothers in Christ: What I wrote about CEO's seems to have inflamed many and caused some major grumpiness. First of all, I am one of you, in that I am a fellow believer, who happens to be a pastor. I was sharing a personal experience, and one for which I felt guilty for a long, long time. I didn't want to be a CEO. I was pointing to a case in a very small church when it didn't seem to occur to the pastors to call us on the phone or visit. I currently serve a congregation of about 290. I've been here a year, and yes, I haven't visited all of the CEO's. There are many who are ill and homebound. I do call folks who are listed and are members on their birthdays. I guess what I'd hoped for was some kind of compassionate response and an understanding that sometimes things happen within a church that turn folks away. Sometimes, it's personal problems within the people's lives. We have some folks who are leaving for other churches. As for Thomas, I've always felt he received a bum rap. How often do we hear the term "doubting Thomas" (My father's name was Thomas). All of the other disciples had seen the Lord, and had the opportunity to touch his hands. Thomas wasn't there at the time, but one to voice his opinion, he spoke up. It's like when students don't understand an assignment, yet no on will ask for clarification. It's helpful to have someone who will. Thomas asked the question, many of us ask. Peace, Pastor Laura in Ohio


Date: 17 April 2004
Time: 09:00 AM

Comments

To my sisters and brothers in Christ: What I wrote about CEO's seems to have inflamed many and caused some major grumpiness. First of all, I am one of you, in that I am a fellow believer, who happens to be a pastor. I was sharing a personal experience, and one for which I felt guilty for a long, long time. I didn't want to be a CEO. I was pointing to a case in a very small church when it didn't seem to occur to the pastors to call us on the phone or visit. I currently serve a congregation of about 290. I've been here a year, and yes, I haven't visited all of the CEO's. There are many who are ill and homebound. I do call folks who are listed and are members on their birthdays. I guess what I'd hoped for was some kind of compassionate response and an understanding that sometimes things happen within a church that turn folks away. Sometimes, it's personal problems within the people's lives. We have some folks who are leaving for other churches. As for Thomas, I've always felt he received a bum rap. How often do we hear the term "doubting Thomas" (My father's name was Thomas). All of the other disciples had seen the Lord, and had the opportunity to touch his hands. Thomas wasn't there at the time, but one to voice his opinion, he spoke up. It's like when students don't understand an assignment, yet no on will ask for clarification. It's helpful to have someone who will. Thomas asked the question, many of us ask. Peace, Pastor Laura in Ohio


Date: 17 April 2004
Time: 10:17 AM

Comments

A different perspective on CEOs -- I saw several people in worship last Sunday who I have not seen for quite some time and I LOVED IT! I got to cuddle a little girl I ONLY get to see on holidays (we always share a secret and I always get lots of kisses when I pick her up). One lady, who asked another pastor to preside at her mother's funeral (fortunately, that pastor deferred to me as her mother's pastor and asked me to take the lead while she helped) was there with lilies and a sad smile. I know she doesn't like me -- she has good reason. I didn't visit her mom as much as I should have when she was in the Alzheimer's unit, alive. But when I put my hand on her shoulder before worship, and shook her hand during the passing of peace, there was reconciliation -- it warmed me to the heart. If I don't see her again for another year -- so be it. But I rejoice when we can be together and when we can be reconciled to each other. Sometimes, we have to accept that something we or someone else said or did CAN keep people away. Instead of focusing on the guilt of the CEO, I think we need to work toward reconciliation in whatever way we can. We should be careful that we do no turn people away with our contempt for their behavior and inattendance. If it is enough for them to be in church twice a year, then we need to accept that and make sure when they are there, they feel loved and welcome and that they get a good, Spirit-led message from us. Janel in ND


Date: 17 April 2004
Time: 03:20 PM

Comments

Pardon my newness, but what is a CEO?

Blessings, John in IL


Date: 17 April 2004
Time: 03:33 PM

Comments

To John in IL - CEO means Christmas Easter only and refers to those folks who usually only attend worship during these time. Peace, Pastor Laura in OH


Date: 17 April 2004
Time: 03:52 PM

Comments

Pastor Laura, Thanks! The veil has been lifted and all (in the thread) is clear now.

John in IL


Date: 17 April 2004
Time: 04:00 PM

Comments

Why this text on Low Sunday when our “best members” are here? Every year! Perhaps it is to sensitize the “best members” to the struggles of those who are not here. They are not to be judged. They are to be told that Christ is risen. They are to see it in the lives of these witnesses. From these witnesses they are to experience grace and acceptance not judgment and condemnation. Through us they can embrace the truth that Christ is risen indeed! Through us and through our communities of faith they can come to believe that Jesus, our Lord and our God, lives.

Tim in MN


Date: 17 April 2004
Time: 04:11 PM

Comments

Why this text on Low Sunday when our “best members” are here? Every year! Perhaps it is to sensitize the “best members” to the struggles of those who are not here. They are not to be judged. They are to be told that Christ is risen. They are to see it in the lives of these witnesses. From these witnesses they are to experience grace and acceptance not judgment and condemnation. Through us they can embrace the truth that Christ is risen indeed! Through us and through our communities of faith they can come to believe that Jesus, our Lord and our God, lives.

Tim in MN


Date: 17 April 2004
Time: 04:11 PM

Comments

Why this text on Low Sunday when our “best members” are here? Every year! Perhaps it is to sensitize the “best members” to the struggles of those who are not here. They are not to be judged. They are to be told that Christ is risen. They are to see it in the lives of these witnesses. From these witnesses they are to experience grace and acceptance not judgment and condemnation. Through us they can embrace the truth that Christ is risen indeed! Through us and through our communities of faith they can come to believe that Jesus, our Lord and our God, lives.

Tim in MN


Date: 17 April 2004
Time: 04:19 PM

Comments

Why this text on Low Sunday when our “best members” are here? Every year! Perhaps it is to sensitize the “best members” to the struggles of those who are not here. They are not to be judged. They are to be told that Christ is risen. They are to see it in the lives of these witnesses. From these witnesses they are to experience grace and acceptance not judgment and condemnation. Through us they can embrace the truth that Christ is risen indeed! Through us and through our communities of faith they can come to believe that Jesus, our Lord and our God, lives.

Tim in MN


Date: 17 April 2004
Time: 05:24 PM

Comments

I just finished re-reading Elaine Pagels' "Beyond Belief" and was once again reminded of the under current running under every story. A helpful brief is in her sermon on "30 good minutes" at http://www.30goodminutes.org/csec/sermon/pagels_3608.htm

storyteller


Date: 17 April 2004
Time: 05:26 PM

Comments

I just finished re-reading Elaine Pagels' "Beyond Belief" and was once again reminded of the under current running under every story. A helpful brief is in her sermon on "30 good minutes" at http://www.30goodminutes.org/csec/sermon/pagels_3608.htm

storyteller


Date: 17 April 2004
Time: 08:17 PM

Comments

We rented The Rundown starring The Rock. His character Beck is in the Brazilian jungle -- driven by a Scottsh Bush Pilot. As he is telling Beck about the jungle he sayd *We walk by faith, not by sight*

There are ways of seeing and there are ways of seeing, there are ways of perceiving that are beyond our ken. Jesus knew what Thomas needed - he knows how we need to *see* and meets us there. Hillary in Ca


Date: 17 April 2004
Time: 09:02 PM

Comments

I think this passage calls us to be truthful with ourselves what questions we hold that are prohibiting us from journeying toward holiness. Then evaluating whether leaving them unanswered is worth sacrificing a deeper relationship with God over.

Just a thought, John in IL


Date: 25 May 2004
Time: 12:32 PM

Comments

Does anyone have any input as to the differing chronologies regarding John's version of the arrival of the Holy Spirit, and that of Acts 2, which in the Anglican tradition are both read on Pentecost?

Nigel


Date: 25 May 2004
Time: 12:33 PM

Comments

Does anyone have any input as to the differing chronologies regarding John's version of the arrival of the Holy Spirit, and that of Acts 2, which in the Anglican tradition are both read on Pentecost?

Nigel