A sermon by the Rev. Linda Harrison
Easter 2; April 23, 2017
Acts 2:14a, 22-32; Psalm 16; 1 Peter 1:3-9; John 20:19-31
Thomas, one of the Twelve — also called Didymus, or Twin — was not with them and would not believe the others until he had his own experience of the Risen One.
Yes, Didymus has legitimate questions.
Didymus, the Twin, the one who previously said “Let’s also go [to Jerusalem] so that we might die with Jesus” (John 11.16) and “Rabbi, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?” (John 14.5). Didymus, the Twin, has twin reactions to Jesus: belief and doubt.
Belief and doubt … they sit side-by-side.
We are Didymus. We also have within us the twin nature of belief and doubt.
We all of moments of belief – whether it is times of prolonged and deep sense of peace in assuredness or a fleeting nano-second of near clarity and everything in between. We also all have moments of doubt – as deep and unnerving as existential crises and what mystics call the dark night of the soul to niggling questions that buzz around like gnats. I would hazard to guess that many more of us have periods of doubt, or uncertainty, than we have of deep profound belief.
And that is okay, because belief and doubt are the twin sides of faith. When it comes to faith, I will go so far as to say that you cannot have one without the other. If there are no questions, no uncertainties, no doubt, then faith is little more than a brittle certainty. It may be tall and sure, but the first strong winds that come along, it will snap or uproot, not unlike an oak that cannot bend like the weeping willow.
The author of the gospel attributed to John writes, “Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book. But these are written so that you may come to believe that Jesus is the Messiah…”
These are written so that we may come to believe or that we may continue to believe. The Greek grammar lends to both translations. The gospel writer gives us this witness to strengthen us in times of doubt and questions. The gospel writer affirms the twin nature of doubt and belief and the need for assurances once in awhile.
We are blessed to have these words and we are blessed to have one another to share our doubts, as well as our beliefs. Jesus is not chastising Thomas, but blessing us who come after the first followers: “Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe.” We are the blessed ones who believe without seeing. We have been blessed with the gospels and with each other.
On days when you find it hard to believe, share that with someone in this community. You may hear a good word of encouragement from their personal experience so that you may continue to believe. Or, you may find yourselves crying together, sharing the same struggle, no longer alone – and that is no small ministry, being present to one another in mutual discomfort.
And of course, you can always come to either of your priests. Let also practice being present to and with one another. That is where we will truly be blessed by sharing our faith.
It is difficult to sustain our belief in these current times, under this current administration. And yet, we are blessed because we have the witnesses of the ones who have gone before, we have the assurance of God’s abounding love in bread and wine at this table, and we have one another. Together, we will come to belief and we will continue to believe and we will continue to resist precisely because we are blessed.
Blessed be God forever.