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Sunday, April 28, 2019

sunny 88 °F
View Bill and Hope 2019 on HopeEakins's travel map.

WORSHIP Aboard the Silver Whisper at 5:30 pm on April 28, 2019

HYMN: That Easter Day with joy was bright

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

Let us pray. O God, by whom the meek are guided in judgment, and light rises up in the darkness for the godly: Grant us in all our doubts and uncertainties to ask what you would have us do, that the Spirit of Wisdom may save us from false choices, and that in your light we may see light, and in your straight path may not stumble; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

A Reading from the Gospel of John
But Thomas (who was called the Twin), one of the twelve, was not with them when Jesus came. So the other disciples told him, "We have seen the Lord." But 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!" Jesus said to him, "Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe."
Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book. But these are written so that you may come to believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that through believing you may have life in his name. (20:19-31)

A Reflection The Reverend Hope H. Eakins

Thomas missed Easter. Thomas was the one of Jesus’ twelve apostles who walked away from his community, so he wasn’t there when the risen Christ came into the room. Thomas didn't see Jesus show the nail prints in his hands and in his feet and the wound in his side, and Thomas didn't hear Jesus say, “Peace be with you.” Even when the eleven tried to tell him all about it, tried to tell him that, “We have seen the Lord!” Thomas didn’t believe. The evidence was only second hand.

Doubting Thomas, he is called, and Doubting Thomas gets bad press. Most of us prefer people who are sure about what they believe. We don’t want our politicians to waffle on issues. We want friends who say what they mean and mean what they say. The preachers who attract the greatest congregations are those who claim to know exactly what the Bible says. And the Roman Catholic doctrine that the Pope is infallible on matters of faith and morals is very attractive to those who want absolute answers.

But I get nervous about such certainty. I actually like it when a politician says, “Upon due consideration and study, I’ve changed my position on this subject and here’s why.” I get nervous when anyone is so convinced that they are right that they close their minds to considering anything new. I get nervous when any Church claims to know the mind of God without question, because we human beings aren’t smart enough to comprehend the mind of God. I want all of us to have what we Anglicans pray for those who are baptized: an “inquiring and discerning heart.” I want us to ask big questions and look for big answers. I also want us to reognize that God is far too big for us to grasp.

Doubting has been given a bad name, as if it were something that only bad people or weak people do, so when we call someone a Doubting Thomas, we are not paying them a compliment. Yet if we are honest, we know that we all have doubts, and that those doubts are actually a way of deepening our understanding and our faith.

This week, Bill and I watched a ship’s movie called The Theory of Everything. The film is the story of Steven Hawking, world renowned theoretical physicist who first described black holes. Throughout Hawking’s life, he never stopped questioning, doubting, and often rejected his eariy work in favor of new understanding. Another proponent of scientific doubt was held up by Lewis Thomas, the former chancellor of Sloan Kettering Institute, who said, “There’s something badly wrong about how science is taught. We need to look not so much at facts as we do at bewilderment because scientific facts are incomplete. It is only the strangeness of nature that makes science interesting, and science, like poetry, ought to be taught as a sort of moving target.”

Now were Lewis Thomas’s words rephrased to address Doubting Thomas, they would go like this: “There’s something badly wrong about how faith is taught. We need to look not so much at facts as we do at bewilderment because the facts about our gracious God are incomplete. It is only the mystery of God that makes faith exciting, and faith, like poetry, ought to be taught as a sort of moving target.”

The community of faith often seems like the last place to reveal our doubts. The Church often seems like a place where everyone shares a common belief because we proclaim a common Creed. It is not so. If you have doubts, you are not alone. Thomas was not ashamed to bring his doubts to his fellow disciples, and we can and should do the same.

And when we doubt, we should remember this: it was in the pain of Thomas’s doubt that God was revealed to him. Thomas began by thinking that he couldn’t believe in Jesus’ resurrection unless he could touch him and see him. "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," he said. And he didn’t believe. But Thomas stuck with his community and came back to be with them. And when he did, Jesus came to him, and in the end Thomas found the One who was so close to him that he didn't need to reach out and touch him after all.

The Prayers, interspersed with the words of Psalm 111

Risen from the bonds of death, Jesus stood among his disciples and said, “Peace be with you.” We pray that Christ’s holy peace may extend throughout our world and within our lives.
Hallelujah! I will give thanks to the LORD with my whole heart,
in the assembly of the upright, in the congregation.

Open our minds and hearts to bring a new peace upon this earth, that old hatreds may die and violence and war may cease. We pray for the leaders of the nations and all in authority, remembering those charged with responding to the bombings in Sri Lanka.
God has shown his people the power of his works in giving them the lands of the nations.

Fill us with compassion for our brothers and sisters in need. Heal the sick and pour your blessing upon those who minister to the suffering.
The works of God’s hands are faithfulness and justice; his commandments are sure.

Inspire and guide all teachers and coaches, tutors and advisors. Bless all schools, colleges, and universities that they may be lively centers for sound learning, new discovery and the pursuit of wisdom.
Great are the deeds of the LORD! they are studied by all who delight in them.

Give us reverence for your creation that we may so care for this earth that generations yet to come may continue to praise you for your bounty.
God’s work is full of majesty and splendor; his righteousness endures forever.

Shelter and protect all who are in need of refuge: those accused and imprisoned, the homeless and fearful, the mentally ill and the weak, the addicted and those in recovery.
God makes his marvelous works to be remembered; the LORD is gracious and full of compassion.

Be with those who doubt, those who live with uncertainty, those whose faith and hope are weak.
God gives food to those who fear him; he is ever mindful of his covenant.

Remembering those who were injured and those who died this week on the ferry Amfitriti, comfort the bereaved; receive those who have died and gone before us into your arms of love.
God sent redemption to his people; he commanded his covenant for ever; holy and awesome is his Name.

Give us grace to acknowledge our sins and seek your forgiveness, always trusting in your mercy.
The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom; those who act accordingly have a good understanding; his praise endures for ever.

Bless those with birthdays and anniversaries this week, remembering David and Una Snell and make us grateful for the signs of fresh hope and new life all around us.
God’s works stand fast for ever and ever, because they are done in truth and equity.

Summing up all our petitions and all our thanksgivings, we pray in the words Jesus taught us
Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name
Thy Kingdom come; thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven
Give us this day our daily bread and forgive us our trespasses
As we forgive those who trespass against us
And lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil
For thine is the Kingdom and the power and the glory forever and ever. Amen.

The Blessing

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing through the power of the Holy Spirit, and may the blessing of God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit be among you and remain with you always. Amen.

HYMN: We walk by faith and not by sight

Officiants: The Reverend Hope H. Eakins and the Reverend William J. Eakins
Music: Alex Manev
Altar Guild: Directress: Jane Kline, Jill Ingham. Usher: Douglas Kline

Expected time of next service: Sunday, May 5, at 9:15 am

Posted by HopeEakins 11:32 Archived in Ghana

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