Sermon – April 12, 2015
The Rev. Rebecca S. Myers, CSW
St. John’s Episcopal Church, Corbin, KY
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.” John 20:25
Please be seated.
A few months after I turned 3, my parents bought their first house. It was in a new suburban development being built upon what was farmland. When we first moved in, the streets were not even paved! It was pretty muddy.
This was near the end of the baby boom, so the neighborhood was filled with young couples in their mid 20s and early 30s, having kids. There were lots of kids. And one of our favorite games was “hide and seek,” especially on warm summer nights when we played it with flashlights and called it flashlight tag.
Do you remember the game? In the version we played (which Wikipedia says comes from Russia and Brazil, not Central PA) one person is the seeker and everyone else are the hiders. If you are the seeker, you cover your eyes, usually leaning on a tree or against a wall, which serves as the home base. You count, sometimes only to 10, but more often to a higher number. You count loudly, so the hiders can hear you. When you think everyone has had enough time to hide, you yell, “Fee, Fi, Fo Fum, Whoever’s not ready, here I come.” The hiders are supposed to try to get back to home base and touch it before you can get there and call out their name.
There are various kinds of seekers and sometimes you have to make up additional rules. Some seekers just stand by the base and call out peoples’ names. Others leave the base and think of all of the good places to hide and try to really search and find the hiders.
Sometimes if you’ve sought for awhile and most of the hiders are at home base, you’ll yell, “Olly, Olly, Oxen Free,” calling all of the remaining hiders back to home base. The first person you caught then becomes the seeker.
In our new mission statement, we, in essence, define ourselves as a “diverse community of seekers.” It’s an interesting word choice, don’t you think? We don’t say we are a community of “knowers.” We don’t say we are a community of “we’ve got all of the answers.” We don’t say we are a community of “we’ve got it all figured out.”
When I looked up “seek” in the dictionary, I found this definition, “to try to find or discover by searching or questioning.” (http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/seek?s=t) In other words, our community of St. John’s continues to find and to discover God by searching and questioning. We believe it is through our searching and questioning that we grow in our faith…that we develop a deeper faith. We understand this seeking is a lifelong journey. Just like the seeker in “hide and seek,” we keep looking for God.
In being seekers, we are like Thomas in today’s gospel. Thomas did not have the experience in seeing Jesus that the other disciples had. We really don’t know why Thomas was away from the community. We don’t know what Thomas was doing. We do know that Thomas did not believe what his friends told him. Thomas wanted and needed to see for himself in a particular way. So, he questioned what his friends told him.
And Jesus returned to Thomas. Jesus heard Thomas and heard Thomas’ request, to see the mark of the nails in his hands and to put his finger where those nails were and to put his hand where Jesus had been pierced in his side. Yes, we hear Jesus chide Thomas some, but still, Jesus returned.
Jesus provided Thomas with the proof he needed, while at the same time, encouraging Thomas to set a different “bar” for proof…to maybe trust his friends a little more the next time…to prepare Thomas to go out to meet all of those who would never have walked with Jesus on earth.
As a result, we hear Thomas proclaim, “My Lord and my God.” And tradition has it that Thomas traveled the whole way to the town of Muziris in the southwest tip of India to spread the Gospel. Thomas questioned and searched. Thomas sought God…Thomas sought Jesus and as a result of his searching, his faith was stronger and his desire to spread the Gospel and to do God’s work was strengthened.
So we seek. Like Thomas, we question. In Adult Forum and Godly Play, we search. We search to find the risen Jesus. We search and we question, because out of that comes action. Thomas went to India spreading the Gospel. Our searching and questioning leads us to action in how to be Christ right here in our region.
Today the Vestry will meet and continue the discussion on what three things we’d like to do the rest of the year to fulfill this mission statement. Your bulletin lists the many things we discussed both at the Vestry retreat in 2014 and at the last meeting. Our searching and our questioning eventually leads to concrete action.
Recently, while driving in my car, I heard this song by Dolly Parton, first recorded back in 1975. She says she wrote it while going through a tough time in her life…a time when she was doing some things she knew were wrong. I think these words from the song are an excellent prayer for all of us as we seek…as we search…as we question…as we deepen our faith and as we go out into the world to do God’s work.
Won’t you reach out and lead me
Guide me and keep me
In the shelter of your care each day
‘Cause I am a seeker, you are a keeper
You are the leader, won’t you show me the way?