CALL TO WORSHIP:
One: We gather in the presence of God as disciples of the one whose love healed those the world scorned.
All: We gather as disciples of Jesus to rejoice
in what God has done.
One: The God whose power and presence shone in Jesus
is with us still to help us seek justice and find
the path to more abundant life.
All: We are a blessed people, called to bless the world
that God loves.
One: All glory and praise be to our God.
Let us pray…
WE ARE WITNESSES—CHIST IS ALIVE!
John 20: 19-31
I WONDER -How many this morning have been called a “Doubting Thomas?” or experienced doubts.
There are times we can have our doubts about many things; We doubt God-our faith-people- our talents-and events
I remember when I earned that label from who else but my wife, Sharon.
“Your nothing but a doubting Thomas.”
I’m sure many of you recall doubting.
When you think of Thomas in connection with the story of Jesus, I find it hard to understand why Thomas should always be remembered as “doubting-Thomas?”
** In chapter 11:16, When his fellow disciples who were reluctant to follow Jesus to Bethany, he told them “Let us..go, that we may die with him.” He probably would have bit- his-tongue had he known the kind of death that awaited Jesus. Thoma could be called “Courageous Thomas”
**In 14:5 chapter remember the time Jesus tells his disciples “there many dwelling places in my father’s house and I’m going there to prepare a place for you and that they know the way there, Thomas interrupts Jesus saying “Lord we do not know where you are going? How can we know the way?” Thomas could be called “Out-Spoken Thomas”
So we see that John depicts Thomas as much more than “doubting.” but as a man who spoke his mind, a straight talker.
I think Jesus liked this freedom in one of his followers.
John’s story reads, the disciples were locked in a room, frightened to death.-- Where was Thomas?-- Strange that he wasn’t there?-- Maybe he was the only one brave enough to venture out and sneak through the alleys of Jerusalem.-- in search of food? --We just don’t know.
And when we listen closely to the story we find that Thomas didn't doubt Christ! He doubted is fellow disciples and he only wanted the same proof as they had. After all, Jesus had made an appearance to the disciples when Thomas was not with them. Seems only fair to me!
We see that Thomas isn’t the only doubter in the resurrection story.
MARY MAGDALENE DOUBTED when she saw the empty tomb. It was not until Christ appeared to her and talked with her that she believed.
THE DISCIPLES DOUBTED Mary Magdalene that she had seen the risen Jesus and saw the empty tomb – I think we can agree, Thomas wasn't the only one to have doubts when he heard about Jesus’ appearances.
Like the other disciples in the story he wanted proof.
When you think of it, as we make our way through life we oft-times doubts and want proof. We are searching for assurance, some basis of faith and hope.
It seems, in our struggle with doubt, we look for signs; and the gospel writer John was a master at telling us the good news through signs of Jesus:
It might be good to understand a bit about John’s congregation. John was writing his gospel in 90-100 AD. Some 75 years after Jesus’ death and his church was a Jewish community with 3 different groups,
--1) The Jews, Pharisies, Scribes and High Priests who did not accept Jesus as the Messiah, 2) another group called the Jesus Movement who believed in Jesus and 3) lastly the gentiles with their doubts about Jesus.
It was within this community John wrote his gospel and this story of Thomas. I believe John included this sign of Jesus appearance to Thomas to help those in his church community to move from their DOUBTS to having FAITH and encourage them to get on with the job of witnessing.
After Thomas saw and touched and he was positive it was Jesus, I imagine he was thrilled. Then Jesus told them
“Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe in me.” This is the message that John wanted to get across to his congregation. Forget your differences—your doubts and believe Jesus Spirit is a live in each one of us.
John’s message is for US today!
“Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe in me.”
We know there have been generations of men and women who believed—not because of the experience like that of Thomas, but because of miraculous signs we experience in life
WE have NOT SEE the risen Christ as Thomas experienced--YET WE BELIEVE.
Notice Jesus didn’t think any the less of Thomas for wanted some evidence, so I imagine Jesus is telling us it’s okay to have doubts—When we have doubts it proves we are thinking about Jesus and God and our faith.
So far this morning John’s story has told us of Jesus’ APPEARANCE after his death ---how Thomas DOUBTED and received EVIDENCE that gave him FAITH and one thing remains to complete the story— WITNESSING. WITNESSES to spread the good news “Jesus’ Spirit lives on.”
Have you ever thought that we are WITNESSES?
Did you ever think that we witness every day by how we talk— how we serve others and how we act?
Talking of HOW WE ACT reminds me of a women who was very indignant when she was wrongly arrested for car-theft.
—The officer said she was speeding, weaving in and out of lanes and giving the finger to all the other drivers...
When I saw the Bumper sticker reading “JESUS GIVES YOU PEACE”
I was sure the car must be stolen
It seems actions speak louder than words!
Aside from our actions of individual witnessing, through visiting, phone calls and sending cards, every church congregation in the valley is called to be Witnesses as a community.
As a Church-Family, each of us has been given a unique gift from God --and all of us are different,--- some family members have the gift of--Organizing events—carpentry—music—teaching—cooking—finances—leading worship-- --some with lots of love to give—others who like to serve— By each of us using our gifts has made this church-family’s witness noticeable in the community!
I’m positive our witnessing has had an impact in Rockburn and throughout the valley?
-Driving by the church Sunday morning people hear the congregation singing “Jesus Christ is resin today or Come in, come in and sit down you are part of the family…. ’’
** What a meaningful a witness this is!!—Some will say—we’re such a small group—Jesus only had 12 members of his group!
**But it’s important for people in the community to know we are here to give a helping hand.
**It’s good to know you can depend on the person sitting next to you will come to your rescue if you need help—and we have a beautiful church building to welcome visitors to worship with us our faith is evident in the pride you(we) take looking after the building.
--Also we have Sunday School where children are always welcome and we have a dedicated teacher who loves the children.
--Let’s not forget our Rockburn Choral Group going to the senior’s residences several times a year bringing joy to our seniors.
-we pass a church on a Sunday we might hear the Franklin Ensemble playing old time gospel songs:
--Neighbours hear about the hymn-sing – friends are invited. People passing by wonder what going on – just come and sing the old gospel hymns “I’ve got the Love of Jesus down in your Heart.” That’s a strong witness.
-smell the aroma drifting through the air as we past the church hall. It’s our popular pork supper or is it roast beef tonight.
—look at the crowds—food is always a great way to have fellowship—remember Jesus seemed to be constantly eating with the crowds. One thing I notice is the wonderful smiling faces of the church members as they serve the meal.
-What’s all that singing, laughing and playing games out on the lawn, it must be the annual church-family picnic or vacation-bible school.
Now lets not swelled heads, but when I think of the size of our church-family and the average age of the family members, I think we do a pretty good job witnessing God’s love.
Let’s continue to be a strong WITNESS that Christ is alive and well in the valley and around the world, let’s make sure it continues for many years too come. May God bless us all!! AMEN