Thomas the Brave!

This sermon can be listened to here 

Gate Pa – Year B  2nd Sunday in Easter,

 Image result for doubting thomasReadings:
Psalm                          Psalm 133
First Reading:                         Acts 4:32-35               
Second Reading:                    1 John 1:1-2:2             
Gospel:                                    John 20:19-31             

What I want to say:
Lets stop calling Thomas “Doubting Thomas”. It distracts us from what is going on in this story.
The resurrection is God’s Big Yes to the way of the cross. In the way of the cross we are reminded that all people are made in the image of God and we are invited to see God’s image in all people. In the resurrection God is faithful to all the covenants, that through Israel humanity is renewed and creation restored.
In the resurrection we are invited to live in the way of the cross

The Sermon

        1.      Introduction:

I’m a big fan of Thomas
I think he gets a really hard time – with this Doubting Thomas thing
As someone said on Tuesday – poor Thomas
This is the same Thomas who only a few days earlier
            when Jesus announced he was returning to Judea because his friend Lazarus had fallen asleep (aka died)
รจ Thomas says “Let us also go, that we may die with him.”
How is Thomas any different from any of the other male disciples?
-          Mary Magdalene told them she has seen the Crucified Jesus risen
-          and they hid in a room in fear
-          even more afraid when Jesus appears in their midst
-          doubting disciples we might say
-          poor old disciples
I’m not even sure that Thomas is doubting
What is going on here?

       2.      Thomas and the resurrection

first thing to note is that Thomas is not looking for proof of the idea of Jesus risen
not saying – give me some proof of this idea and I will say it is true
not about apologetics – being convinced of truth of the resurrection
He wants to experience what Mary Magdalene experienced
He wants to experience what the other disciples experienced
so that he might affirm again
“Let us also go, that we may die with him”.
He had been willing to lay everything on the line for Jesus
including his life
He was willing again
But he wanted to make sure who we was laying everything on the line for
-          unlike other disciples who stayed in relative safety of the Mediterranean
-          He travels through Persia and in to South India
everything changes when he experiences the risen crucified Jesus
way of crucified Jesus is affirmed
risen Jesus still has marks of crucifixion
and so nothing changes
What do I mean by that?

       3.      The Problem of the Cross

we live in a world which deeply values the powerful, the important, the wealthy, the successful and large, and lately the famous.
-          even in church we deep down value the large growing churches with famous pastors/vicars
-          rest of us kind of aspire to be like those big ones
we live in world affirms our right to use violence and force to protect ourselves and our interests
-          even a lot of Christians
which makes the cross a problem
should make Jesus a big problem
None of these things are part of the way of Jesus
-          affirmed Torah that says we are to love Lord our God with all our heart, soul and mind, and/by loving our neighbour as ourselves
o   then in parable of good Samaritan taught that neighbours included everyone we feared, despised, even people most feared and loathed
§  in case of story above – including Jewish neighbours
§  demonstrated that by honouring and blessing Samaritans, tax collectors, prostitutes and other sinners with no requirements of repentance
-          then taught that those who aspired to be leaders were to serve those they were to lead
o   demonstrated that by washing disciples feet as a slave
-          said that God’s way was the way of vulnerablitiy,
§  of powerlessness
§  of love
§  not of retaliation and violence
§  not coercion and force
o   demonstrated what he meant by allowing Romans to execute him on a cross
§  death that was supposed to strip him of all meaning and value
§  force us his followers to let go of their ideas about who he was and who God is, and about ourselves
-          Taught those who wished to follow him and live way of God
o    do so by walking the way of the cross
-          taught that all of this is part of the kingdom of God – which was and is starting now and in this world
but as that story shows, too often those who profess to be his followers have not embraced his way
I think because of the resurrection

       4.      The Problem of the Resurrection

too often we reduce the cross as the means to make God happy with us again so we can get into heaven
and we understand the resurrection as fixing the all that troubling stuff about Jesus death
and we can get right back to describing God in ways that make sense to us
God the all-powerful,
reigns in splendour
punish those who offend God
all those alternatives Jesus lived are lost
and it becomes business as usual
which valuing power and might and wealth and all those good things
and has sadly included pogroms against Jews all in name of crucified one.
But for Matthew, Mark Luke and John
resurrection did not fix the cross
it was Gods big tick to the way of the cross
it was God saying “tino tika” to all that Jesus said and did
-           that our neighbours include all who share our humanity
o   all who are made in the image of God
-          that to follow Jesus is to serve, not to be served
o   to be generous, compassionate, self-giving
o   as Jesus was generous, compassionate, self-giving
o   as God is generous, compassionate, self-giving
That’s what changed for Thomas and all the disciples
resurrection was an affirmation that everything that Jesus had taught and lived
            including his death on the cross
was the way of God
so nothing changed
back to business as usual
living God’s radical love
as heard from reading from Acts
as we see in ongoing story of Thomas the brave.

5.      Conclusion

invitation from Thomas is not to get too stressed about what happened
instead we are invited to open ourselves to see and hear risen crucified Jesus around us
at work in our world
at work in us
inviting us on the way of the cross
way of God’s unrelenting love
when experience risen Jesus
we are to know that the only way to life in this world in this way of love
any other way leads only to more violence, more squalor, more pain, more death


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