Sermon for April 11, 2021 Second of Easter “Well I Declare”
Believing or the possibility of believing is a mysterious realm. I think there are a variety of ways to hold onto a belief. There is the belief in real possibility, the belief of possibility, belief in fact and belief just because it leads to further understanding and belief.
This Sunday, or the one after Easter has developed into what we delightfully call Holy Humour Sunday. Now I love humour, good jokes and a good laugh and the necessary good belly laugh but a comic I am not. I come up with good lines a day late, or start laughing before the punch line so give the timing up. There are times I like the quick one liner, and times when the narrative spans a story. Think here Terry Fallis’ ‘Best Laid Plans’ or Stuart MacLean’s why you should not drink 8, 8 ounce glasses of water. But I digress.
I do not wish to malign marketing and advertising folk for they do a service and the church uses advertising, but they also can lead us to believe what might not really be true. Long before Easter was over, advertising was onto Mother’s day and graduations. Right after Christmas and leading up to Easter we were encouraged be believe that white bunnies laid chocolate eggs and that purple, pink and yellow spotted bunnies laid coloured eggs, that the Easter Bunny hide eggs in yards and fields and that Easter is all about bright, delight, rainbows and butterfly kisses. For the most part and for many that is where the story ends and after a sugar high we wake up the next day to our routines and life.
I would suggest using what we view advertising as a spring board to the larger beliefs and ways of being that lasts longer, way longer than a sugar high. We are in a time and age that is vastly different than anything we have ever known, not just in terms of COVID but also in the life of the church. The church we all grew up in cannot be replicated in the 21st century and our experience of church will be different than that of those who follow us. What is essential for today is that we faithfully live out (in our personal life and public life) the teachings of Jesus.
If today, we need to start with bunnies and eggs to lead to the truths of resurrection and life then so be it. If the Velveteen Rabbit leads us to understand the truths of loving and life no matter the nature of the adventure…then great. If the scientific exploration of the tiniest particles helps us understand the nature of a delightfully creative God, then awesome. And if taking a closer look at Mars or the expansive views of the Hubble telescope give us understanding of the height, depth, breadth and width of God, then that is good too. Everyone has to start somewhere on their journey of faith. And everyone on a journey of faith has not yet arrived at the destination.
For Thomas it was in the asking of questions, of doubting the word of his friends who were telling him a fantastic story that defied human understanding. Unless I put my finger in his hand and my hand in his side, I cannot make that leap to belief. And Jesus says; here are my hands and my side, you believe now because you see and feel and experience, how blessed are those that come to believe and yet do not have the opportunity that you do this day.
Thomas opens the door for us to ask questions. To explore how we first came to believe, how that was nurtured and how it is lived out today. Thomas also gives us permission to keep asking questions that lead to deeper understanding. Jesus offered clarity to the questions by saying to Thomas and to all, that it is good to ask questions, it is good to probe. To the one with answers, I like to think he offers the teaching of patience. We may know how something works, math or science, art or language, faith and biblical knowledge may be easy for some but harder for others to grasp. So Jesus says to all the others, be patient in your teaching and always be on the lookout for new ways to explain old truths.
This hold true for the expert and the novice, for the well-practiced in faith and for the seeker. Whether we all know it or not, all earth’s inhabitants are on the same journey, share a common past and wonder about the future. Believing is a delightfully mysterious adventure and it begins with loving all that is into what was, what is and what will be. The one who so humanly demonstrated divine love beckons, follow me.