Sunday, April 12, 2015

“Doubting Thomas” Monologue Sermon

          I can already hear your snickering.
          Yeah, especially you there in the back.
          I can hear you whispering “Look, the doubter.
Look, Doubting Thomas.”
          It’s really not fair. 
          You don’t name any of the other disciples that way.
          You don’t say “Look, Abandoning Peter.”
          You don’t even say “Look, Betraying Judas.”
          For that matter, why can’t you call me “Twin Thomas”—that’s what the gospels call me…
 Or you could even call me “Brave Thomas”
After all, when all the other disciples were whining:
 “Oh, if we go back to Judea we’ll get stoned to death… poor us.”
I said, “Well, then we’ll go to Judea and die with Jesus.”
          Or you could call me Inquisitive Thomas—after all, there was that one time when Jesus told us that he was going someplace—and he claimed we already knew where that was (Truth be told, Jesus really gives us too much credit sometimes)
Everyone else just nodded solemnly like they knew what he was talking about
—Not me though, I actually wanted to make sure I knew what this was all about
—I chose to ask the dumb question that no one else wanted to ask, “Where are you talking about?”
          But noooo…
I’m stuck with that name
I’m stuck as Doubting Thomas.

          Doubting Thomas. All because of that one incident.
          He’d died for crying out loud!
--we’d all seen it. Our Lord, hung out there like a criminal.
          And then, later, Mary told us he’d risen from the dead.
          We didn’t believe her. None of us, not one!
We ALL doubted her.
          That’s why the other disciples locked themselves in the upper room. They didn’t trust that if Jesus could come to Mary he could come to all of us
—yet I get the bad wrap as “Doubting Thomas.” …
My point is this, we all doubted.
          I at least went outside
—I wasn’t afraid to die
—I didn’t lock myself in that room out of fear
—I figured if they killed me, for knowing Jesus, then so be it…
          (sigh) Yet I’m the doubter
          I wasn’t in the room the first time.
          So I missed out.
          Next time I saw them
—the other disciples
—they  were…
          They told me about being breathed on, how that changed everything for them.
          That seemed kind of strange to me, honestly… being breathed on by a dead guy…think of the halitosis…
But I couldn’t knock it. It gave them peace
—it changed them from frightened fishermen hiding-out, to bold preachers front and center.
          I was jealous of that—maybe that would be a better name for me “Jealous Thomas” I’d cop to that.
I was jealous of their new status—their new boldness.
          I mean, I was the bold one, after all.
          But not after seeing them.
I felt like the person who misread the worship time for Easter and got to church in time to pick up a Lilly and go back home… without even hearing the good news.
I felt like I’d missed Easter.
          And I couldn’t believe them
—I couldn’t believe they’d seen him.
I couldn’t believe the transformation that had overcome them.
I couldn’t believe…
(hmmm)     Well, if I’m really honest… I couldn’t believe I’d missed it.
I missed Jesus coming back.
I missed this peace they all felt.
          I felt left out.
          I was jealous of them.
          I went so far as to cut myself off from the community by not trusting their words…
          And I want to be clear, it was their words I doubted—not himnever him. Never God and never Jesus…
just missing his return, missing out on what they all had …that changing moment… I missed it.

          And it didn’t help that they were so excited about that forgiving and retaining sins thing.
In fact, they tried it out on me. I think they were meaning it well—but…
 it felt like they believed doubt was a sin.
          Do you know what it feels like to have your brothers and sisters whisper, and even say aloud, that you are a sinner because you doubt? A sinner because you weren’t there in that room.
A sinner because you missed out.
A sinner because they were all certain… and your uncertainty makes them feel uncomfortable.

1        They were changed, and I missed it / they were gung-ho and I was still in the depths of mourning.
2        It made me pull away from them, even though they were trying their best to continue to be my brothers.
3        They went so far as to call me a sinner for missing that moment… for doubting.
For being “Doubting Thomas!”

          And because of all that I blew up—I said something I didn’t really mean.
I said I would only believe if I squished my fingers around in his wounds.
          Pretty gross if you stop and think about it—macabre even…
but I was in despair.
While everyone else had experienced resurrection… I was still in despair.
Not doubting… but despairing. Despairing Thomas / not Doubting Thomas.

          Somehow, I toughed it out. I came back—despite all that, I showed up in that room, with them, the next week.
          There … with them… a voice came from behind me, and said:
“Peace be with you.”
          And he took that gross challenge I’d thrown at my brothers,
and at God,
the challenge of “poking my fingers in his wounds,” and made it a redeemable moment
—a place from which I could believe…
a place beyond my despair.
          And I shouted out, “My Lord and my God.”
          That’s where things get complicated. Most people think what Jesus said to me next was a rebuke… that Jesus too called me a sinner for not being with them… with the other disciples—for being “a Doubting Thomas.”
          But it wasn’t a rebuke. He just asked me a rhetorical question, “Have you believed because you have seen?”
          Then he looked passed me, through that room, and out into eternity
—to future generations… to all of you…
and blessed them, saying, “blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe.”
          It wasn’t a rebuke, it was a blessing for all those Christians who came after us… He was promising them
promising you
—his love and faithfulness,
his resurrection,
his peace,
his forgiveness,
his gospel, for them
for you.
          It wasn’t about me
—about my doubting
but about his blessing, that conquered the grave,
and conquered our despair and division,
and continues to bring life to this day
—to this very moment.
If I’m “Doubting Thomas” … You all are “Blessed Disciples”
You all are “Blessed Christians”
You are “Blessed Children of God!” A+A