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Thursday, April 16, 2015

Meditation on Our Second Week with Doubting Thomas

by Kristin Berkey-Abbott

The reading for Sunday, April 12, 2015 and April 19, 2015:

John 20:19-29

I continue to think about Thomas in our second week with the text.  I've always wondered what else he did, and whether or not he'd feel annoyed that he's most remembered for that moment that he doubted.  I have this vision of Thomas as having amazing artistic talent for example, and no one knows that now.  We remember him for that one moment of disbelief.

It's not so strange that he doubted, after all.  He saw Jesus die an agonizing death.  Why would he believe his fellow disciples with their strange tales of seeing Christ back from the dead?  He must have thought they'd finally lost their collective minds, which wouldn't have been improbable, given the events of the week.

I love the post-Resurrection stories where Jesus shows up and forgives everyone:  Thomas for doubting, Peter for denying, everyone who ran away.  I was always taught that Judas would have been forgiven too, but he disrupted that potential by taking his life.  In my grown-up view of an all-forgiving God, I think that Judas was still forgiven.  I believe that a God who has lived with us in human skin understands the despair that can lead to suicide.

But back to Thomas, who should serve as a hopeful tale for all of us .  It can be hard to maintain our faith, especially in the face of the spirit-cracking grief of disappointed hopes.  We may yearn for evidence that's supported by our five senses.  We may get that evidence.

Thomas gets credit for bringing Christianity to India, although that's legend that's hard to support with facts.  A few years ago, I played with an idea that finally made its way into a more formal, rhymed poem than I usually write.  I was inspired by this blog post by Jan Richardson.  Her post made me think of those fancy Easter eggs that had a charming scene inside, and the interesting juxtaposition between those eggs and Jesus' open wound.

Into the Wound

Thomas approached his Savior’s bloodied side,
Everything for which he longed, yet so feared.
He felt the warm flesh and looked deep inside.
The vision left him changed and scarred and seared.

He saw a series of worlds in that wound.
He saw a future that could be so fine.
He saw a world of absence, so ill tuned.
He saw a table set with bread and wine.

He saw the start of all the universe
And staggered back, but Christ kept him steady.
“Wash your hands,” Christ said, his voice almost tense.
Christ knew the dangers for those unready.

Legend says Thomas walked to India;
What dream prompted him, we always wonder.
But you, too, could hike to outer Asia,
If you had the same vision to ponder.

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