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Today we’re doing a different sort of Biblical meditation and proclamation. It’s more of a decentralized and personal experience than a classic oratory sermon. The In the last few weeks, many Christian traditions around the world have commemorated the footsteps steps of Christ in different ways. Pilgrims have walked the very roads he walked in Jerusalem. Children waved palms and rode donkeys. Feet have been washed, crosses raised, wine poured, as we remember the suffering, the sacrifice, the grace and the love of Christ’s final movements on Earth. How do we commemorate the footsteps of the risen Christ? How might our footsteps, our literal footsteps, carry us on a resurrection journey? We will wrestle with that question today, through the reading of Scripture, through song, through paint and play, through washing each other’s feet, through deep listening to the stirrings of God, to the voice of Christ within us.
How do you react to the text of John 20:19-31? Commonly given the subtitle of “Doubting Thomas,” it seems to be actually about more than just Thomas. Jesus appears twice to the disciples. Each time he greets them with “Peace be with you!” or “Shalom” in Hebrew. This is the standard greeting that was exchanged in their culture and language….and yet the invitation to peace, the extension of shalom is poignant. How did they hear and react to it?
When do the disciples believe? (v.20) Are they any less doubt-full than Thomas who believes after physical documentation and proof? (v29). What enables them to move from doubt to belief? Is it physical proof? Seeing with their eyes? Could it be a relational experience? Or is it something else…like receiving such a radical testimony personally, rather than second hand? What moved you from doubt to belief, or maybe your movement was more one of unawareness, or indifference to discipleship and engagement.
Jesus gives a burst of teachings and admonitions to his disciples in v. 21-24. Curiously the text doesn’t include their response to such radical vocation. Instead it focuses on Thomas and his standards for belief. It seems to me as I read the text that the risen Jesus is maybe more interested in movement – receive the Holy Spirit, take in my divine breath into your being, forgive as I forgave, go into the world (to the Jew and Gentile, the male and female, the poor and rich, the righteous and unclean) as God sent me into the world. That vocation seems to get overlooked, or surpassed by the human (not just Thomas) need for proof, substation, justification. Paradoxically I’ve never seen Jesus with my own eyes, or touched the holes in his hand s or side – but I have encountered him through the discipleship of others, their forgiveness, their love and the presence of the Holy Spirit.
Questions for going deeper:
1. What word grabs your attention in today’s selections?
2. How do you struggle with faith? As a movement or a belief?
3. How are you looking for proof or encouragement?