April 24, Second Sunday of Easter, with Mr Mark Richardson

This is an abridged version of our live 9:30 Sunday Service. We also offer   this service on Zoom,  for access please call our office at 519-432-8075 and leave a message. Jo-Anne will endeavor to reply as soon as possible.

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The Lords Prayer with Rev. Wendy Noble

Reading; John 20, 19-31

19 It was late that Sunday evening, and the disciples were gathered together behind locked doors, because they were afraid of the Jewish authorities. Then Jesus came and stood among them. “Peace be with you,” he said. 20 After saying this, he showed them his hands and his side. The disciples were filled with joy at seeing the Lord. 21 Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father sent me, so I send you.”

22 Then he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit. 23 If you forgive people’s sins, they are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.”

24 One of the twelve disciples, Thomas (called the Twin), was not with them when Jesus came. 25 So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord!”

Thomas said to them, “Unless I see the scars of the nails in his hands and put my finger on those scars and my hand in his side, I will not believe.”

26 A week later the disciples were together again indoors, and Thomas was with them. The doors were locked, but Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.” 27 Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here, and look at my hands; then reach out your hand and put it in my side. Stop your doubting, and believe!”

28 Thomas answered him, “My Lord and my God!”

29 Jesus said to him, “Do you believe because you see me? How happy are those who believe without seeing me!”

Reflection – ‘A Nevertheless Faith’ with Mr Mark Richardson

Some of you may have been lucky enough to travel to New York City to see the Broadway smash musical, Hamilton.

If so, I envy you. I have not seen the show. But even I know in the musical, one of the hit songs is The Room Where it Happens.

Alexander Hamilton, one of the major players in the making of the United States of America and its constitution sings with a hip-hop beat:

“I wanna be in the room where it happens, room where it happens, the room where it happens.”

That song was such a hit, in fact, when former US National Security Advisor John Bolton wrote a memoir of his time in the White House under Donald Trump, he entitled his book The Room Where It Happened.

As in, I had access to the Oval Office.

Not everyone does have that kind of access, of course. That’s what makes those who do, special. That’s what sells books and inspires musicals.

But Doubting Thomas? He was NOT in the room where it happened.

We don’t know why he wasn’t there in the room with the disciples when the Risen Jesus came in on a Sunday night and breathed on them the Holy Spirit. And we don’t know where Thomas was, either.

Was he ashamed of something he had done?

Was he afraid of being associated with the disciples? Maybe he was simply on an errand for the group.

We don’t know.  All we know is, he wasn’t there in the room.

The disciples told him what had happened, of course. They explained with joy: “We have seen the Lord.”

But Thomas was having none of it: “Until I see the scars of the nails in his hands and put my fingers into his side, I will not believe.”

Thomas was petulant.  And yet, Jesus came to him.

On his second visit to the disciples, the Risen Jesus singled out Thomas and said to him: “See the scars of the nails on my hands and put your finger in my side.”

Jesus met each of the specific demands of Thomas. You know the story.

And Thomas looked; he saw Jesus and he was overcome. He said, “My Lord and my God.”

He was never the same, again. I work with a young woman at the Central library, a Christian with Indian roots whose church is a direct descendant of the church founded by St. Thomas the Apostle. Thomas evangelized India.

I have talked about Thomas in India, before, but, this morning I want to ask: why did Jesus come to him, at all?

Surely, Jesus was not forced to come. He was under no obligation, was He? So, why come?

He came, in part, of course, because Thomas needed Him.

We are like Thomas, we need evidence. We cannot believe without something solid, whether it is an empty tomb or the scars of the nails on His hands, or the report of eye witnesses.

To be disciples, we need some evidence.

But evidence, alone, is not enough. It is necessary but, by itself, it is insufficient. We need something else, too.

Emile Zola was a noted French author of the late 19th Century and a skeptic. In fact, Zola was a virulent anti-Christian atheist. He trusted science and nothing else.

Once, he witnessed a cure of a young woman ravaged by lupus at Lourdes, the famous Marian shrine in the southwest of France.  The young woman’s face, as Zola himself described, was a mass of decaying flesh and blood.

When she came out of the spring, she was completely cured, a miracle of biblical proportions.

Yet Zola refused to believe. Instead, he said there was some sort of ‘scientific’ explanation for the cure. So, evidence is not enough. We need a willingness to believe. Thomas had that, at least; a willingness. And so, with a little help, he did believe … and he had a new life in Christ.

We all need a little help. Thomas needed to see. Most of us need to hear, at least.

Regardless of our weakness, if we believe in Christ, we have been blessed, we share in the spirit of God; that is, in His New Life in Christ.

What difference does that make?

Remember, early in our lesson for this morning, Thomas was called The Twin? There is a reason why John adds that little detail.

He is gently leading us to realize, in the Spirit, we are twins of Christ.

Twins have a special bond. In April, 1912 the Titanic went down. We all know the story, but I didn’t know until yesterday that its twin, the Olympic, was travelling across the Atlantic at the same time going the other way, from New York to Europe; and once the Olympic heard of the plight of its sister ship, it sped at top speed to help her out. Thomas’s words, “Unless I see …” were his SOS. And Christ came to him.

“Come” says Jesus, “see the scars of the nails in my hand and put your finger in my side.”

Why did Jesus come to Thomas?

In a way, he really was compelled. He came for the same reason He comes to us. Because in the Spirit we are joined to Him, we are His twin, in faith and hope and love.

So, with the whole church, we say this morning: Christ has died, Christ is Risen, Christ will come again.

Praise be to God.

Amen.

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