Potsdam United Methodist Church
Where we let Jesus shine! Where we invite, love and nurture ALL!
Sunday Worship
11:00am Service
Pastor Heidi R. Chamberlain
Information info@potsdamumc.org

What Say You Tom

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April 7th:

What Say You Tom
Call: Acts 5: 27-32
Text: John 20: 19-31
Read: W&S # 34 and both communion and baptism

         What Say You Tom?

Easter was last Sunday.
   We all know that
      Despite what you may have read in the newsletter
that reached some homes yesterday
and should reach the rest tomorrow.

In that newsletter,
   A worn out and weary writer
Stated unequivocally in the opening sentence of his musings
      That Easter was "this past Saturday"

An error    that occurred as the writer was revising his earlier draft

An error    that was not discovered by the overworked editor
   Until the entire 200 plus newsletters
      Had been copied, folded, sealed, counted,
      And were waiting to go to the post office.

An error    that has fortunately already been corrected on the copy to be published on our website
   So that only the ten score people who receive paper copies
Will ever know of this colossal wording blunder
   Unless someone here tells them.

[looking at the congregation]:  And that's not going to happen is it?
But, now that that has been cleared up, I state again,
   Easter was last Sunday
And it was on Easter that our scripture
One of the great     two part stories in the gospels     began

[John 20: 19-23]

WOW!! Those in that room had to be overwhelmed.

They had to be overwhelmed because they had locked the doors
   And yet he came in anyway

They had to be overwhelmed
by this Holy Spirit thing he breathed on them

But most of all, they had to be overwhelmed
   By the fact that he was anywhere and doing anything

For they had either seen - or been told by reliable witnesses -
   That he had died        on the cross
   And that he had been buried   in a garden tomb

That morning a couple of them had seen    that the tomb was empty
   But, of course,   there had to be a logical explanation for that.

And they had heard Mary, the woman from Magdalena
   Tell them, "I have seen the Lord."
   And describe to them an experience she claimed to have had with Jesus in that garden that very day.
      An experience which they, as you will recall from the Easter service,
had dismissed as an idle tale
      Told by a grieving and  "crazy,out her mind"

As we resume the story we transition
from its first part  to its second part

This two verse transition advises us that
   Not all of the eleven survivors from the group of twelve
      Were in that locked room when Jesus appeared.
At least one was missing.

[20: 24-25]


Thomas was not only absent Easter evening
He was also adamant that the ten who were there
Had not seen   what they told him   that they had seen.

Now, remember,
   Thomas has been with these ten
for what was probably nearly every day
of the last three years.

For three years,  He had walked, talked, and eaten with them
For three years,  He had cried, laughed, and prayed with them
For three years,  he had served and learned with them.

He knew these people    He knew their character

And yet, he refused to believe them

He dismissed them    and he dismissed what they had told him
   Just as on Easter morning they had dismissed Mary Magdalene and what she had told them

Ironically, the disciples, in witnessing to Thomas,
used the very words Mary had used:  "We have seen the lord."
And Thomas dismissed the ten, not with gentle skepticism
But with a strongly stated refusal to believe.
   "Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands
   Unless I put my finger in the mark of the nails
      And my hand in his side
   I  will     not      believe.

(Thomas does not seem to be a man of subtlety)

We don't know how the other ten responded to Thomas' refusal
   But my guess is that they continued, throughout the week,
to try to convince him
   I see the week following Christ's visit to the locked room
      As a week of frustration, division, and tension

And then the writer picks up the story
   Exactly one week after Jesus' visit to the locked room

[20: 26-29]

Now that I seem to have the day of the week right
today is one week after Easter

Jesus' first visit to the disciples took place on Easter
His second visit to them took place
   One week after Easter

This time Thomas was present

And it didn't take long for Tom's adamant denial
   To become a humble acceptance.

Jesus offered Thomas exactly what he had demanded
   "Put your finger here and see my hands."
   "Reach out your hand and put it in my side."
And you and I want to join the other disciples in smugly asking,
   "What say you now, Tom?"

What Tom said
without putting his finger in the mark of the nails
or his hand in Jesus' side -
was a humble awestruck and subservient,  "My Lord and my God."

And Jesus, speaking to us more than to Thomas,  observed,
   "Have you believed because you have seen me?"
   "Blessed are those who have not seen
      and yet have come to believe."

When we combine this story with the great commission
   To be witnesses and to make disciples
We see that Jesus was consistently making it clear
   That his story would be conveyed
      Most often not by dramatic appearances
      But by people telling other people
         That they have seen the Lord.

John says as much in the closing words of our scripture
   [20: 30-31]

I believe that Thomas is us
I believe that he represents all who were not in the room
On Easter
And who hear about Christ from others

And so, we are all Thomases
   And we are all asked by Christ and must ask ourselves,
   "What say you now, Tom?"
   "What say you now, Tim or Jim, or Jack?"
   "What say you now, Mary, or Margaret, or Marie?"
      "Having heard this story   What say you now?'