Linus was talking to Charlie Brown, “I guess it is wrong always
to worry about tomorrow. Maybe we should only worry about today.
Charlie Brown replied, ‘No that’s giving up. I am still
hoping yesterday will get better.”
Poor Charlie Brown
I imagine that
is how the apostles felt. They were still hoping that yesterday
would be better.
are locked in a room -- hidden away suffering from fear and doubt
- filled with anxiety over the events of the past week. So many
things have changed and now they are holed up in this room.
the doors and met in secrecy. The authorities were furious to hear
the news that the tomb was empty. There was no telling what they
might do next. They killed Jesus right in the middle of Passover
feast. It seemed they would stop at nothing in order to eliminate
Jesus, his teachings and maybe even his followers.
is split up. The disciples minus Thomas are in the room and it is
not until a week later that Thomas and Jesus meet. Is he really
all that different from the other disciples? Let's think back to
the Easter story. Mary went to the tomb and it was empty, so she
ran back and told Peter and John. Did they immediately believe her?
No, they went to the tomb to see for themselves. It isn't until
they go inside and see the cloth and the linens lying empty in the
tomb that they believe. What is it that they believe, though? That
Jesus has risen? No.
Even Mary, when
Jesus appears to her directly, does not recognize him at first.
And even after she does recognize him, she goes back and tells the
disciples, but we are given no indication that they do anything
about it. In fact, in the other gospels, it tells us that they did
not believe what she told them. As Luke puts it, "These words
seemed to them an idle tale, and they did not believe them."
biggest sign act of them all -- John called miracle signs that pointed
to God and all of them doubted -- all of them had fear and hopelessness.
MOVE 1 --
FEAR AND DOUBT
That isn’t unusual to face fear and doubt given the crisis
the disciples find themselves in.
Jesus was gone
and their lives were at risk -- this was real.
Some things scare us so much it takes our breath away.
Some things leave us in such despair -- we question God’s
presence -- God’s faithfulness.
We may suffer
a crisis of faith.
We might doubt and fear if we are like some people who have been
unemployed for a long time. We are doubting God’s provision
We may have
doubts and fears if we have made wrong choices away from God’s
best interest and we doubt God’s faithfulness.
We might have
despair in the long-time illness of our spouses. We doubt’s
God’s presence in the midst.
I remember reading an article in the Truth concerning pastors’
doubts about God.
Some said they
were agnostic, not sure about God and others’ flat out did
not believe any longer
Maybe they have
seen too many things to believe. When we begin to have doubts and
fears -- we begin to have a crisis of faith.
It reminds me of the movie Signs. Are any of you familiar
with it? It’s an odd movie.
It is a sci-fi
movie starring Mel Gibson.
Mel Gibson plays
the part of Graham Hess a former Episcopal priest whose wife was
killed in a violent car accident. The sheriff calls Graham and tells
him his wife is pinned between the two cars and the sheriff tells
him when they move the cars Graham’s wife will die.
He has an opportunity
to speak to her before she dies. She gives him words of encouragement
for their family. They have two children and Graham’s brother
who is a former minor league ball player.
He is a man
suffering grief and despair and doubting God’s existence.
Aliens are inhabiting
their town and one is on the farm. At first Graham doesn’t
believe they are aliens, he thinks they are pranksters but as the
movie progresses, he begins to see and fear them.
As the tension
builds, Graham’s doubt of God’s existence is revealed
in conversation with his brother and then with the children.
During a talk
with Merrill, Graham’s brother, Graham dismisses his brother's
belief in signs and miracles, all evidence of some higher power,
and says that they will have to face whatever is threatening them
Maybe we should say a prayer. Graham Hess: No. Morgan: Why not? Graham Hess: We're not saying a prayer. Morgan: Bo has a bad feeling. Bo: I had a dream. Graham Hess: We aren't saying a prayer. Eat! Morgan: I hate you. Graham Hess: That's fine. Morgan: You let Mom die. Merrill: Morgan... Graham Hess: I am not wasting one more minute of my life
on prayer. Not one more minute. Understood?
His faith was in crisis. He did not believe in God.
threatens the existence of the alien when he cuts off his fingers.
And the alien
comes after the Graham Hess’ son receives a breath of death
from the alien and the son lays unconscious as a battle ensues.
Graham realizes events in his life were fated for this moment, as
he finds meaning in his wife's final words. During the battle, the
words of his wife came back to him and each were words of salvation
in the alien battle. Each word was a directive to save his family.
They kill the alien, Graham Hess picks up his son carries him outside
and lays him on the ground and he begins to plead for the life of
his son. The son awakes.
BUT GOD DID NOT LEAVE HIM IN THIS PLACE.
Months later, with his faith restored, Graham gets dressed in his
clerical garb and goes back to church.
MOVE 2 --
JESUS GIVES US ROOM IN OUR DOUBTS AND FEARS
leave us that way.
God is in the midst
of our doubts and fears --
our wrong choices
today in the midst of their fear and doubt and brings peace to their
Like this painting.
PAINTING - Caravaggio]
captured the face of Jesus and the others with keen observation
of scripture - Jesus in his care and compassion and the humanity
of the disciples and their astonishment.
leave us in this place of doubt or despair.
God moves in
the midst of our fears and doubts about all kinds of things --
Death and illness
-- provision in our unemployment -- change in the midst
come condemning them for not believing -- shows them in his care
himself when he comes with peace and his presence in comfort and
No questions asked.
It is Ok to
go through the same things as the disciples -- it is Ok to question
and doubt -- it is OK
In our doubts
and fears, the grace increases.
Thomas did not
believe the other disciples. "If Jesus were alive, why are
you all hiding behind locked doors?" I think that this is what
Thomas might have thought. The “true believers” seemed
to have no faith at all!
We all suffer
from fear and doubt -- we all have moments of despair.
gives us room and he enters into that room speaking to our problems.
us us room to wrestle with our questions of faith -- Jesus cares
for our fears --
takes our breathlessness and breathes a word of truth and comfort
into our doubts and fears.
came to them to chase away doubt and to restore faith.
It is important
for us to know this:
MOVE 3 --
OUR MARKS OF FAITH
It is important for us to know
Because these experiences of crisis of faith -- of doubt and despair.
Is important to our growth -- our relationship with God.
All I have seen
teaches me to trust the Creator for all I have not seen. - Ralph
the disciples about God -- they are learning. We are learning.
It is OK to
struggle in our faith.
a part of the believing
Once long ago a group of pastors went on a spiritual retreat led
by a rather remarkable nun. They had times to meditate and pray
and times when they all gathered and she spoke about various things.
At one point that weekend, they had an assigned period when they
could speak with their leader privately. In one pastor’s meeting,
she said an insightful thing for someone who had only known the
pastor for a little while. "Keep struggling," she said
as the pastor walked out the door. "It's your way of being
close to God."
grow stronger -- keep struggling --it signifies our closeness and
our relationship with God. It is our way of staying close to God.
Our faith develops
into a faith that isn’t a wishy- washy faith -- not one that
has been spoon-fed -- deep faith not one on the surface. Not one
that recites creeds without thought but one that wants to know --
a faith-seeking God.
, “My Lord and my God.” He moved from doubt and fear
OUR MARKS AND
These experiences become our marks of faith.
JESUS’ MARKS OF FAITH
identify with Jesus’ marks -- his hands, his feet, his side.
Jesus’ has marks of faith -- we too have marks of faith.
too struggled in his walk -- he too wrestled with God in the Garden
before it was his time to go to the cross.
Our testimonies are our marks of faith -- as Jesus’ sufferings
are his marks.
Our own sufferings
are ours -- our testimonies of God’s work in the midst of
our doubts and fears.
marks -- Jesus shows them his marks -- we show others our marks
Become our testimonies
-- Become a testimony of a resurrected Christ.
It is important
to know that sharing our doubts and fears is a good thing.
MOVE 4 --
Merrill: There are a lot of things I can take, and some things I
can't. But what I can't take is when my older brother, who's everything
that I want to be, starts losing faith in things. I saw that look
in your eyes last night. I don't ever want to see that look in your
It is not easy
to share these -- it is not easy for people to see our weakness.
We can’t be afraid to say to our church family. It is what
builds our body of Christ.
Afraid to tell
anyone -- makes it worse -- if we tell we might seem weak. We might
seem not a true Christian.
We have to be
able to trust our church family.
risk of disappointing someone -- as Graham’s brother does.
When we do this without any risk of shame or guilt
Our church becomes authentic -- real -- honest
We have a sense of unity -- the Psalmist today says
Unity in the church is like - 2It is like the precious oil on the
head, running down upon the beard, on the beard of Aaron, running
down over the collar of his robes.
3It is like the dew of Hermon, which falls on the mountains of Zion.
For there the Lord ordained his blessing, life forevermore.
We build unity
when we testify to our marks of faith.
Become known for our Marks of Faith -- like Thomas our doubt is
known for our authenticity and honesty
a haven for people who have real issues with God.
others as Jesus seeks to touch us,
church becomes the place of healing in a hurting world our church
Marks of Faith defined his relationship with God
Our Marks of
Faith defines ours as we seek God in our own struggles.
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