Title: We fear, We doubt and Christ is Risen
Context: Shepherd of the Hills, Sylva NC
Date: Easter 2B, April 15th 2012
Disciples in the Locked room w/ and w/o St. Thomas (John 20:19-29): DOUBT
Grace to you and peace from God our father and our risen savior Jesus Christ. Amen
It is clear that doubt and fear are front and center in our gospel text this morning. The followers of Christ are locked in the upper room, fearful for their life and Thomas is even doubtful that Christ is risen !!! Doubt and Fear… These two emotions are not new to followers of Jesus both then and now. I would purpose that Fear and Doubt go hand in hand….
We fear because we doubt, we doubt because we fear…. And if we try to handle this on our own then fear and doubt become a vicious cycle of turning in on one’s self, we begin isolating ourselves and this isolation will ultimately leads to our death. So instead of turning in on ourselves we, as God’s people, can turn away from ourselves and to our teacher, Jesus Christ. When we turn to Christ we can see how Christ approaches the fears and doubts of his disciples, taking note that we to are his disciples and Christ comes to our aid in, with, and through our doubts and fears.
The disciples have faced fear and doubt before… and the two stories that stick out in my mind are first is the story with the disciples storm tossed boat and second is our gospel lesson this morning about “Doubting Thomas”. The Storm, we know that Jesus has the ability to walks on top of or rise above the thing that which they, the disciples, feared the wind-tossed sea…. If we go on, we read that Christ never rebukes the disciples for fearing for their life, rather he rebukes the wind and sea to calms the storm. The Locked-Room, Christ does not rebuke Thomas for his doubt; instead he speaks Peace upon them and then shows Thomas, and the others, his nail-pierced hands and spear-pierced side. In each story Jesus led with peace to calm the fear and settle the waves and through his actions he showed the disciples who he is as the Son of God to dispel doubt.
Gathering these two stories together gives us the understanding that it is completely normal to fear and doubt. It is OK to Fear for your life and Doubt our life-giving God. We know this is true because we see the disciples the ones who walked, talked, ate, and drank with Jesus, fear for their life and doubted both themselves as disciples and God ability to raise Christ from death. Jesus came along side of them amidst their fear so that he can dispel their doubt with peace and patience, humility and grace….
Why… because fear and doubt work against God… not my fear of eggplant or my doubts I can improve my golf game to below 90 strokes… I am talking true fear and true doubt…. The kind of doubt isolates us from those we love and the kind of fear paralyzes us from moving forward with our life. Jesus works to sooth and dispel this kind of fear and doubt…. By lifting his disciples’ worldly-human eyes which are focused on the spiraling-spinning-doubt filled present to a greater vision of the stable-life-sustaining Kingdom of God. Jesus rebukes, soothes, and calms all the things that work against God, so that God can bring the Kingdom near. Jesus calmed the seas so they could sail onward and continue the ministry of bringing the kingdom near… Jesus dispels Thomas’ doubt so that they could be sent to make more disciples and spread the good news of the empty tomb… For the disciples…. fear and doubt are not destination emotions rather they are stepping stones to growth and revelation… through the stormy sea, Jesus’ power over creation was made known… through the locked room Jesus’ resurrected life made known the power God had over sin and death… God calls us to connect our life story to this life giving story of God’s work…. And see that we too are connected to God’s story… and through our fears and doubts God reveals over and over again that the tomb is empty and God has defeated death once and for all…
These stories of Jesus and his disciples teach us that; doubt and fear are normal experiences but not destinations and we are to never face them alone. We read that Thomas spoke openly about his doubt and the disciples on the boat cried out in fear of the ghost as the wind tossed the boat to and fro. In the community that Christ created with his disciples it was ok to speak honestly about your doubts and fears… The challenge is the way of the world is to pull yourself up by your own boot strap and keep your dirty laundry private and fix it yourself. Meaning, we can go through life by isolating ourselves and keeping silent about facing our own fears and doubts. You may know people in your life who tries to face things alone… addiction… abuse… unemployment… marital strife… grief… but living life alone is not how we are created to live, work, worship and play….
God is teaching us that we, as Disciples of Christ, are to live in community and face the normal fears and doubts of being children of God within community. We live in community so that we can acknowledge our fears and doubts openly to the community and honestly with ourselves. As we open ourselves up to the vulnerability that come from sharing our doubts and fears… we become receptive to the work that God is already doing all around us. We begin to see that God is actively working though those around us to release us from our fears and doubts so that we too can be agents of peace in a broken world… we too can sooth fear and anxiety… we too can dispel doubt and shame… we too have the power to bring the kingdom of God near those all around us… God loves you and me so much that God gave his only son to lose his life so that we might live… but not just live eternal in the Body of Christ… but so that each day we have the opportunity to bring the kingdom near to all we meet… Today we loudly and boldly proclaimed that Christ is alive and the tomb is empty.
So may you know that God is there with you in your fear and doubt…
May you name the places in your life that you need to be released from…
And may you feel the peace of Christ in the locked-rooms of your life….