19th April 2020
Helen Cherkasova – Doubting Thomas
`Hard to believe?`
Hard to believe?
* * *
Welcome and Grace
`Jesus said to her “I am the resurrection and the life.
The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in me will never die.
Do you believe this?”
John 11: 25, 26
Hymn 375 Come let us with our Lord arise
Come, let us with our Lord arise,
Our Lord, who made both earth and skies;
Who died to save the world He made,
And rose triumphant from the dead;
He rose, the Prince of life and peace,
And stamped the day forever His.
This is the day the Lord hath made,
That all may see His love displayed,
May feel His resurrection’s pow’r,
And rise again to fall no more,
In perfect righteousness renewed,
And filled with all the life of God.
Then let us render Him His own,
With solemn prayer approach the throne,
With meekness hear the Gospel Word,
With thanks His dying love record;
Our joyful hearts and voices raise,
And fill His courts with songs of praise.
1 Peter 1: 3-9; John 20: 19-31
Hymn 335 To Christ the Prince of peace
(Narenza – only three verses played)
1 To Christ, the Prince of peace
and Son of God most high,
the Father of the world to come,
we sing with holy joy.
2 Deep in his heart for us
the wound of love he bore:
that burning love he kindles still
in hearts that him adore.
3 O Jesus, victim priest,
what else but love so fine
could move you so to welcome us
into your heart divine?
4 O fount of endless life,
O spring of water clear,
O flame celestial, cleansing all
who will to you draw near,
5 hide us within your heart,
for there we all would be,
to live in grace, and after death
6 Praise to the Father be,
and sole-begotten Son;
praise, ever holy Paraclete,
while endless ages run.
(1 Peter 1: 3-6; John 20: 19-31)
Tomorrow – 20th April 2020 – is Yom HaShoah – Holocaust Memorial Day, a day of solemn remembrance of the six million Jews who died in Nazi Germany.
Elie Wiesel, himself a child in Auschwitz writes:
`For the survivor who chooses to testify it is clear; his duty always is to bear witness for the dead and for the living. He has no right to deprive future generations of a past that belongs to our whole collective memory`.
The act of remembering…the act of bearing witness…future generations…our whole collective memory…
The Easter stories are like that:
An act of remembering, an act of bearing witness, for the living and the dead, for future generations; a past that belongs to our whole collective memory…
We meet Jesus, we encounter Jesus, in and through the stories, through the witness of people long ago and people around us today. We may meet Him differently now from those first disciples who had to make their own call on what they experienced then – but we do meet Him…
1 Peter is written at a time of severe persecution and encourages faith in those who are suffering greatly for their faith. Peter is full of the Easter story and its grounds for hope whatever the future may hold.
Thomas, on the other hand, is full of doubt and sceptical that Jesus is risen. He wasn`t around the first time Jesus appeared to the disciples, spoke words of peace to them and then breathed the Holy Spirit on them. Thomas missed out. He missed out on words of peace and the gift of the Spirit from Jesus. (Where was he? What was he doing? What was so important? Did he think it was all over?)
Thomas – reminiscent of us all – wants empirical evidence, evidence he can trust. Incredulity is not new to Modernity or our particular generation. Resurrection has been a problem down through the ages. It has always been hard to believe…
It is hard to believe – and it is hard not to believe. Why wouldn`t we believe the witness of so many?
The witness of so many to the nightmare of the Nazi death camps – and some continue to deny it ever happened. They do not – will not? – believe…
What would make them believe? There is a multitude of film recordings and witness statements…
Thomas is privileged to have an opportunity to meet the risen Jesus. We are not so privileged – but we have the witness of so many down through the generations. Why would we not believe?
If Jesus materialised in front of us today – what would we do? Would we believe any more than we do – or don`t – at the present? Would we explain it away? Look to rationalise the experience? Would we run away? Would we kneel and exclaim `My Lord and my God`?
Jesus says to Thomas `Have you believed because you have seen Me?` To Thomas and to us He says `Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe`. John 20 :29
- What is your experience of encounter with Jesus?
- How do we, might we, bear witness to the resurrection of Jesus in these difficult days?
- Faith, belief, knowledge – how are these connected?
Q and A
Prayer and the Lord`s Prayer
Hymn 360 That Eastertide with joy was bright (vs. 6, 7, 8) (Lasst uns erfreuen)
That Eastertide with joy was bright,
the sun shone out with fairer light, Alleluia! Alleluia!
when, to their longing eyes restored,
the apostles saw their risen Lord. Alleluia! Alleluia! (repeat)
His showed to them see his hands, his side,
where yet the glorious wounds abide; Alleluia! Alleluia!
the tokens true which made it plain
their Lord was risen again. Alleluia! Alleluia! (repeat)
O Jesus, King of gentleness,
do thou thyself our hearts possess Alleluia! Alleluia!
that we may give thee all our days
the tribute of our grateful praise. Alleluia! Alleluia! (repeat)
May God the Father confirm your faith
May God the Son encourage your faith.
May God the Holy Spirit inspire and enliven your faith.
Today and every day.
What we are living through is incredible, unbelievable, beyond belief – hard to believe…
We continue on into the world and in the company of those first frightened, disbelieving disciples…
As a way into the theme an ideas of today`s readings and reflection you might like to listen to these two short testimonies and see what questions arise for you about faith and belief; what we `know`, what we believe, and what we can say about a risen Christ.
A Jewish professor meets Jesus and runs away
Jewish Dr. Dauermann found Jesus to be the door to real Life.
God of all grace and understanding.
Strengthen our faith and help our unbelief.
We rejoice at the Easter story of Jesus risen and alive – hope for the whole world, hope for us all.
Forgive us our sins and help us trust You and trust Him Who is the resurrection and the life for all that lies ahead.
In the name and for the sake of this same Jesus, our risen Lord.