Doubting Thomas

The Bible story we call “Doubting Thomas” is one of my favourites. After his resurrection, Jesus appears to a gathering of his disciples. Thomas for some reason is not there. Maybe he’s out buying food, or running errands, or maybe in the disappointment and pain of Jesus’ crucifixion, Thomas has given up and gone home. When his friends report, “We have seen Jesus.” Thomas says, “Unless I put my fingers in the holes in his palms and my hand in his side, I will not believe.” Jesus comes to Thomas and offers his hands and side. Jesus gives Thomas what he needs.
Like Thomas, we struggle to believe, not just in Jesus’ resurrection, but also in God’s love and support of us as individuals. We say, “God doesn’t care about me. I’ll believe in God only when I experience God for myself.” What can we learn from this story?
Thomas is present with the group the second time Jesus appears. Too often, we reject all aspects of faith and stay away from those Christians and their crazy beliefs. God knocks on our door, pounds away, and we keep it slammed shut as tightly as possible. It’s hard to have an experience if we’re not present. Even with our refusal to co-operate, God persists. Sometimes, it takes a bomb to get us to open up; sometimes, Jesus just walks in through the locked door of our hearts.
Rest assured. Jesus will come and offer you what you need, just as he came to Thomas. Why not make it easy? Why not open your heart, gather with the church, choose to be present when the Lord comes.
“A week later his disciples were in the house again, and Thomas was with them. Though the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.” (John 20:26-27)

Mother’s Day

“I didn’t know being a mother would be a life sentence. I expected two a.m. feedings to leave me exhausted, but I knew it wouldn’t last. I expected defiant two year olds to stretch my patience, but I knew that was just a phase. I expected my baby’s first day of school would be emotional, but I knew that too would pass. With my teenager, I expected a return to sleepless nights, defiant struggles for independence, and concern as first dates, first heart break, first jobs are begun. I knew, though, that even the teen age years would come to an end. Yes, I thought there would be a time when it would all be over. I thought there would be a time when I could let go of worry and responsibility.
As a grandmother, I know that time never comes. Whether our children are model citizens or drug addicts, we never totally lose the worry, the concern that comes with being parents. The joy and the heartache of motherhood is ours for a life time – a life sentence. We never stop loving our child, no matter what. We never give up hoping that our child’s life will turn around. We never totally let go of the pain that comes with any disappointment our child endures. I can only imagine Mary’s pain as she stood at the base of the cross.
For me, the best way of living this life of joy and heartache is knowing that I am not alone in motherhood. God is with me always. God comes to me through people, books, movies, animals, using whatever method necessary to open my heart to the Spirit’s strength and wisdom. In life, in death and even in motherhood, I am not alone. Thanks be to God.

“Can a mother forget the baby at her breast and have no compassion on the child she has borne? Though she may forget, I will not forget you!” (Isaiah 49:15)

Loved Into Life

From my seat in the choir loft, I watched a young man named John sitting quietly in the back pew. It was time for the offering. As one of the ushers stepped up to John, he smiled his beautiful smile, reached out his hand and dropped his coins into the plate. I realized I was witnessing one of God’s miracles.

Several years ago, Susan, John’s personal support worker, first brought him to church. John stumbled in, barely able to walk. He sat with his head down and made strange loud noises. Unable to connect with people, John required constant attention. Susan sat with him, taking him out when his sounds became too distracting. Since then, Susan, David and their teenage son, Timothy, have loved John into life. The journey started with Susan doing the job she was paid to do. She gave the severely disabled John respite care in their home. But Susan and her family stepped far beyond any required effort. I can only imagine the patience, courage and faith that they have poured into their ministry with John. John has been redeemed.
Walking will never be easy for him. He can still get carried away and make his strange loud noises. But John laughs, and his eyes are alive. The Sunday service over, I watched John walk out to the church hall, smiling and nodding to congregational members who spoke to him. His speech is limited to single words now and then. He greets my husband with, “Guitar”, because from the beginning, Tom has allowed John to hold his guitar.

I celebrate John. I celebrate Susan and her family, and their ministry of love; and I celebrate our welcoming congregation. God has received our small gift of acceptance and blessed us with being part of a big miracle. I’m sure that for Susan and her family, there have been, and still are, many times of frustration and exhaustion. With God’s help, they have persisted in loving John. For all of us, the harvest is amazing.

Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time, we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. (Galatians 6:9)