Sunday, March 31, 2013

 April 7,  2013

-If we had only the first three Gospels, the only thing we would know about Thomas is his name - for that's all they tell us.  So we have to look at the Gospel of John to get real insights into just who Thomas was.

-The Gospel of John uses the word "believe" 52 times.  Our text for today tells the story of Thomas and his struggle for belief.  His story is the story of every human.

-Different levels of faith: faith weak, faith strong, faith shallow and faith deep; faith growing and faith faltering, etc.  Craddock

-Fear vs. Faith ,    Fosdick
Fear imprison, faith Liberates;
Fear paralyzes, faith empowers;
Fear disheartens, faith encourages;
Fear sickens, faith heals;
Fear makes useless, faith makes serviceable;
Fear puts hopelessness at the heart of life, while faith rejoices in its God.

-This gathering is like a mini-Pentecost.   The disciples cower in a locked room, and Jesus breathes on them, filling them with life and the power of the Holy Spirit.

-   .... and blessed, too, are those who join with Thomas in the proclamation, "My Lord and my God."  Jim  Rice

- Another Beatitude:  Happy are they who have not seen but still believe.  John Pilch  

-  "We always have a backstage view of ourselves." We let the audience see only the neatly arranged stage. But behind the curtain all kinds of things are lying around: old failures, hurts, guilt and shame.  Perhaps this was so with those disciples huddled together in the locked room that night.  Garrison Keillor

-  Maybe today it is harder for us to take things on faith because we are so good at finding tangible - or at least scientific - proof for so many things. We can prove so much with our God-given minds - why not prove God? Prove Jesus? What do you believe without proof? Can you prove someone's love for you or yours for them? We try, but in the end, we just must trust. Rev. Beth Quick

-Faith is to believe what we do not see and the reward of this faith is to see what we believe. St. Augustine

-"Thomas" is the Hebrew word for "twin." He is also called "Didymus," which is the Greek word for "twin."

-Belief is easy,  faith or trust in God is much more difficult.  Lindy

-This is where I join John and Jesus and Bultmann in urging "those who have not seen" to move from doubt to faith, from death to life. It is not so much a story of Jesus’ resurrection that John tells here as it is the story of Thomas’s rise to faith. And, as Jesus suggests, anyone can do it. You don’t have to put your fingers in his hands or your hands in his side. You don’t have to see him standing before you. As Bultmann would insist, faith and proof are two different things. And as John has explained, these things are not written so that you may have the facts, but so that you may believe. James C. Somerville
-These texts exhibit Easter in its surging contemporaneity. It is the power of death that leads to hostility toward neighbor, that evokes greed and rage and violence toward others. These texts tell an alternative account of the world, where gifts of healing and forgiveness defy death. The church keeps these texts so that we now, in our culture of despair, may be recruited for a more excellent way. The Easter Lord, via Easter texts, invites an Easter people to be about that defiant civil disobedience of new life in a weary, spent worldWalter Brueggemann,
 -We need to doubt until we are able to doubt our doubts. Fosdick
-Thomas is a patron saint for those of us who are trying to live a critical faith. He is not satisfied with other people's accounts: he wants to know by experience.

- Do we really want faith without doubt?

Make your questions and doubts lead you, like Thomas, to a greater faith

-Beliefs become the set of sails that determine not only the direction of our lives and our destination, but also the quality of our journey. Mickey Anders

-Belief and doubt is the yin-yang of many a Christian’s life.

-Doubt is faith seeking to grow! Doubt is faith seeking understanding. You see, doubt is not a sign of a lack of faith. To the contrary, it is evidence of how seriously you take your faith - so seriously that you are willing to ask questions, to raise doubts and follow them up! Seek to answer and resolve them.  Faith will use doubt to nourish and strengthen itself. Bass Mitchel

-"The best decision-makers are those who are willing to suffer the most over their decisions but still retain their ability to be decisive." M. Scott Peck

SERMON              BEYOND THE REACH OF PROOF  Gibran      

 The things we value most cannot be proved in a scientific laboratory: honesty, courage, penitence, morality, love, humility, grace, compassion, kindness and, FAITH.   There's got to be a sermon in there somewhere.  Good luck.  Lindy

-   Christianity has not been tried and found wanting; it has been found difficult and not tried. Gilbert K. Chesterton  
- We simply give up the notion that we are in control of our lives….that may be why  we call it the "leap of faith"
- God demolishes human belief in order to clear space for faith.  BBTaylor
-   The between place.  Trapeze artist  is faith/ spins in mid air.   Faith calls us to live life on the edge.
-  Modern believers tent to trust in therapy more than in  mystery  Kathleen Norris
- I am inwardly fashioned for faith, not for fear. Fear is not my native land; faith is. I am so made that worry and anxiety are sand in the machinery of life; faith is the oil When you do something from your soul, you feel a river running through you.  Rumi    
- I have fought a good fight.  I have finished my course.  I have kept the faith.  II Timothy 4:7    
- Buoyant doubt.  Keep head above water. Gomes
 - Some of you are not getting all the calories and vitamins from your faith.  Craddock  
 -   You must mix some uncertainty with faith, if you would faith be.  Browning
 -   Faith ceases to be faith when it can be explained
 -  Better to ask Release my faith” rather than Give me faith           
 -  Faith is knowledge within the heart, beyond the reach of proof. Gibran
-  Second hand religion: beliefs are from someone  or somewhere else. 
-  Did the world we live in bring disbelief or did disbelief bring the world we live in?
- Don’t be an agnostic; be something!  Frost.
- A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds.        Emerson
- Lord, I believe; help thou my unbelief." Mk.9:24
- An agnostic is a learned man who doesn't pretend to know what ignorant men are sure of. Clarence Darrow 

- Jesus says, "Wherever two or three are gathered in my name, there am I in the midst of them." Matthew 18:20
-  Believing is the beginning of doctrine.   Mickey Anders
-  Not What I do believe But Whom! Not What, but Whom!" John Oxenham  (see full poem in Illustrations)
- Every religion that does not affirm that God is hidden is not true Pascal.
-"There lives more faith in honest doubt, believe me, than in half the creeds." Tennyson

- A pessimist is someone "who can look at the land of milk and honey and see only calories and cholesterol." Joe Gordon
 Man being  baptized was put under for five seconds and then asked, "Did you see Him?"  "No"
   Put under for 10 seconds...."Did you see Him?" "No".  Put under for twenty seconds. "Did you see Him now?"  No but if you lost him, I'll keep looking. 
-O God, if there is a God, save my soul, if I have a soul, so I can go to heaven, if there is a heaven.”
-  Sesame street has Oscar the Grouch; Snow white has Grumpy. Peanuts have Lucy,

-Abram believed what God told him, staked his life on it, packed up his family and moved to the land of Canaan.  And so began the great adventure of believing.
 "Not What But Whom." John Oxenham

 In times like these, it seems even more important.
"Not What, but Whom I do believe
That in my darkest hour of need,
Hath comfort, that no mortal creed
To mortal man may give,
Not What I do believe
But Whom! Not What, but Whom!"

-As the Allies moved through Germany at the end of World War II,
searching farms and houses for snipers, searchers found these words
on the wall of a cellar in Cologne, where Jews had been hiding from
the Nazis:
I believe.
I believe in the sun even when it is not shining.
I believe in love even when feeling it not.
I believe in God even when God is silent.

-When your stomach growls, it's calling for food. So you feed it.Doubts, questions are the growls of the soul for spiritual food, for nourishment. They can stimulate us to seek food, to seek answers, you see, to seek to resolve those doubts. And when we do that, chances are we are going to grow.
- Talk about yin and yang.  (That all things have an opposite) Remind children that doubt isn't bad but a necessary part of belief.

-Help us to grow, Lord, in our faith, even if it takes doubts and questions to do that. We thank you that you welcome them, you use
them for our good. We are so glad that we can come to you just as we are, doubts, fears, failures and all, and find in you ready welcome
and help. Bass Mitchel

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