Think about some of your favorite clothes. Maybe a dress of find material that fits like a glove. Maybe a faded denim jacket that’s a quarter century old. As you think about your favorite, also think about how you would describe it to someone else. It’s highly unlikely that any two of us have the same favorite or the same reason for liking the garment. Now think about the unique nature and fit of your faith. Your faith should be as comfortable as your favorite garment, should fit you like that dress, or feel as comfortable as that denim jacket. Can you share the story of your faith as easily as you can share the story of an article of clothing? What does a life dressed in Christ really look like? Hopefully it isn’t like some one-size-fits-most caftan or rain poncho that doesn’t really fit anyone well. When we are clothed in Christ, we are truly wearing the very best, and we are both alike and unique in how we model and share our Christian identity. Based on the sermon commentary at SOLI (Stewardship of Life Institute) website.
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The title “Confessing Thomas” is an homage to Fr. Mark’s interpretation. Here’s an excerpt from Fr. Mark’s sermon in 2016 on Thomas Sunday:
“Doubting Thomas?” Why do they call me Doubting Thomas?
They don’t call Peter, “Denying Peter,” do they? And Peter denied Him 3 times… when He needed him the most.
They don’t call Paul, “Hold Your Coat While You Stone Him Paul,” do they? Even though that’s exactly what he did when they stoned Stephen. . . .
When it was evening on that day, the first day of the week, and the doors of the house where the disciples had met were locked for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.” . . . he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.” But Thomas . . . was not with them when Jesus came. . . . [and] he said to them, “Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands, and put my finger in the mark of the nails and my hand in his side, I will not believe.” A week later his disciples were again in the house, and Thomas was with them. Although the doors were shut, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.” Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here and see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it in my side. Do not doubt but believe.” Thomas answered him, “My Lord and my God!”
From sermon4kids.com: “You and I have never seen Jesus, but we believe. We accept Him by faith. We don’t have to see it to believe it!”
Collect: Almighty and everlasting God, who in the Paschal mystery established the new covenant of reconciliation: Grant that all who have been reborn into the fellowship of Christ’s Body may show forth in their lives what they profess by their faith; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
Reflection: Thomas doubted the resurrection until he saw the nail holes and put his finger in the wound of the risen Christ’s hands and side. We, too, have been wounded in this life, and our society often teaches us to hide our wounds and vulnerabilities. What might happen if, like Christ, we invited those shut down by life to explore our wounds?
Saint Focus: This week, we return to our review of saints in the Episcopal Church and take a look at Sor Juana Ines de la Cruz. Sor Joana lived during Mexico’s colonial period. She taught herself using books left to her in her grandfather’s library. Her writings focused on feminism, love, and religion. It was her criticism of misogyny and the hypocrisy of men that garnered her condemnation by the Bishop. She was forced to sell her book and subsequently devoted herself to charitable works. While treating nuns who were ill, she contracted the plague and subsequently died (before the age of 50). Be sure to follow the link below for a greater description. [most from the Calendar of the church year according to the Episcopal Church.]
This week, the saints under consideration were :
- 16; [Peter Williams Cassey], Priest, 1917 and [Annie Besant Cassey], 1875 AND Mary (Molly) Brant (Konwatsijayenni), Witness to the Faith among the Mohawks, 1796
- 17; [Kateri Takakwitha], Lay Contemplative, 1680 AND Emily Cooper, Deaconess, 1909
- 18; [Juana Inés de la Cruz], Monastic and Theologian, 1695
- 19; Alphege, Archbishop of Canterbury, and Martyr, 1012
- 21; Anselm, Archbishop of Canterbury, 1109
- 22; [Hadewijch of Brabant], Poet & Mystic, 13th c. AND John Muir, Naturalist and Writer, 1914, and Hudson Stuck, Priest and Environmentalist, 1920
- 23; [Toyohiko Kagawa], Prophetic Witness in Japan, 1960 AND George, Martyr, 304
Eye Candy: “The incredulity of Thomas” (1603) by Carvaggio and a remake (2011) by Jaime Vasta — please go compare the two; “Thomas”, 2001, by Corinne Vonaesch; “The illuminated wound“, image and commentary by Jan C. Richardson
Movies: “O Brother, where art thou?” (2000), zany and hilarious bluegrass version of Homer’s Odyssey (and possibly Joe Riley’s favorite movie); “Galaxy Quest” (1999), The faith of Mathesar and his ship-mates inspires the Galaxy Quest crew to become what they have pretended to be; “The Apostle” (1997), an interesting characterization of old-timey preacher
Ear Worm: “Doubting Thomas” by Nickel Creek (YouTube, lyrics); “Alleluia, alleluia“, an offering from SSSJ’s youth and adult choirs; “If you believe and I believe“, in French, presented by Mokumisi Group in Europe
What does it mean to be a witness? If one is called to court to testify as a witness to a crime, one swears to “tell the whole truth, so help me God.” If one witnesses a monumental sporting event, like a play-off game’s come-from-behind win, one has the sense of truly having been a part of something special. . . . In this week’s gospel lesson Thomas misses Jesus’ first visit to the room where the disciples are hiding, and he says he won’t believe until he can see and even touch Jesus’ wounds. Well, he gets just what he needs, and he does see Jesus and offers a bold and simple confession: “My Lord and my God!” Instead of eyewitnesses, we are called to be heart and faith witnesses. Our belief is a gracious gift, and in believing we have real, abundant life in Christ’s name. We can share the story, but we need to help people come and see so that they can experience faith for themselves. By seeing Christ in us and in our lives, all have the opportunity to come to know the Lord of the Universe.
Excerpted from So It Is website.
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We continue today to celebrate the Lord’s resurrection, a celebration which will last for fifty days in all (and which is celebrated again every Sunday throughout the year). The Gospel reading begins with the first Easter Day when Jesus appeared in the evening to the disciples and gave them his Spirit. The story continues with his appearance the following Sunday when Thomas met the Lord and confessed his faith. It concludes with words for us: “Blessed are they who have not seen, yet believe.”
On the Sundays of Easter, the first reading is always from the Acts of the Apostles. In today’s reading from Acts, we hear a portion of Peter’s sermon on the Day of Pentecost proclaiming the resurrection. God has raised Jesus; and Peter and the other Apostles are witnesses of the resurrection.
The second lesson on the Sundays of Easter this year comes from Peter’s first epistle. This is a sermon on the meaning of baptism. Today the message is about our rebirth into new life in God as we died and rose with Christ in baptism. Nevertheless, in the world we will still have trials and persecutions, Peter tells us, but in them, our faith is strengthened and purified.
As we gather as Church to celebrate the Lord’s resurrection, we find the living presence of Jesus in his Word, in the sacraments, and in our life as the community of the Body of Christ. We find ourselves made by the Holy Spirit into a community that is the visible and living sign of the risen Christ.
From The Rite Light: Reflections on the Sunday Readings and Seasons of the Church Year. Copyright © 2007 by Michael W. Merriman. Church Publishing Incorporated, New York.