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Unraveled Doubts and Fears

Dear people of Murrumbeena Uniting Church, another week, another lockdown, another Sunday coming round again. Our story today features Doubting Thomas, I am sure it is one most of us are familiar with, it is from John 20:19-29. Thomas can often get a bad wrap, but out of all the disciples he is the one I most closely identify with and I think the one most of us can relate to. Thomas’ doubts are not uncommon, he is just confident enough to share them and voice them, which shows great courage. Faith and doubt are so inextricably linked together. In a time such as this we all have questions of doubt, not just about faith, but about our world, COVID-19, our values, our life direction, the unknown. There is much to doubt and wonder about at this time. To quote a lyric from one of Kelly’s and my favourite songs by Kristene DiMarco It Is Well “Far be it from me to not believe, even when my eyes can’t see.” Much of faith, much of life is unknown and unseen and yet we still believe. Even when we can’t see it, even if we don’t have the opportunity to assuage our doubts like Thomas did when he put his fingers into the wounds of Christ, we know that Jesus is still Risen and that God is still God. Even when we don’t know things or have all the answers, we still have our faith. Having doubts, having questions enables us to strengthen our faith. I wonder what some of your faith and life doubts are? Please find some quiet time this week to pause and have a wonder about what some of your doubts are and begin to unravel them. We have sent out another email this week to all in the Church and we have already received many replies about what your faith and life doubts and fears are in this current time, so we look forward to reading more and including them in worship. When a time such as this is upon us all, we can come together as a Church to share our doubts, bring our questions and encourage each other to wrestle with the things that are unseen. If we don’t wrestle with our faith and the questions of life then we miss a key element of being which is to wonder. Friends, we can doubt and still believe they are not mutually exclusive. Many Blessings to you this week as you begin to unravel some of your doubts and fears. Zak Hanyn Grieving Thomas (Thomas Meets The Risen Christ) By Lauren Wright Pittman Inspired by John 20:19-29 When the unimaginable happens, we can find ourselves drowning in doubt. We flail, reaching for something to bolster our faith in a sovereign, living God. Here we see Thomas needing tangibility: “Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands, put my finger in the mark of the nails and my hand in his side, I will not believe.” Thomas has just experienced the death of his teacher, close companion, and the long-awaited Messiah. Reeling in grief, Thomas needs a buoy to keep him afloat. Jesus offers Thomas peace, meeting him where he is instead of offering condemnation or a condescending nickname. He welcomes Thomas to do what he needs to find footing, but we aren’t told that Thomas actually acts upon the invitation. Instead, he says, “My Lord and my God!” Thomas is separated from Christ in death and all he asks is to be close to him again. Instead of poking Christ’s wounds in doubt, he reclaims relationship with Jesus. When I visited India, I learned of “St. Thomas Christians.” It is said that during Thomas’ extensive travels he began several churches in southern India. To this day people proudly identify with his name. These Indian Christians do not define Thomas by his doubt; they define their own faith by his ministry. They know Christ because of Thomas. Thomas moved forward from that place of doubt, and his impact stretched to the far southern tip of India. I chose to depict Thomas rubbing his eyes as he awakens from his grief to the reality that Christ has not left him. Lotus flowers (a symbol for India) swirl around his head in the waters that image the depth of his mourning. His ministry blooms out of this raw, authentic moment of appropriate doubt. Lauren Wright Pittman

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