Sunday 18th April 2021

An act of worship at home

Reading     John 20:24-29

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.’


Thomas is more famous for doubting than for anything else. So much so that we give his name to anyone who raises serious doubts about what everyone else is believing. It is a bit unfair on him though, because he was the only one of the disciples who hadn’t been there when Jesus first appeared to them. The others had heard the testimony of Mary Magdalene before they encountered the risen Christ, and there is very little evidence that they reacted to her word any differently from how Thomas reacted to theirs.

And yet, it is the case that even after Thomas falls to his knees before Jesus and confesses him both Lord and God, Jesus contrasts his need of physical proof with the blessedness of those who believe without the need of such proof. Of course, the gospel writer is emphasising this point because he is writing to the next generation, the believers who have no such opportunity to see and feel the physical wounded hands for themselves. Blessed are you if you hear the testimony and believe and follow Jesus. Indeed, says John at the end of the reading we heard, this is precisely why I have written this account of the story of Jesus, so that you may believe and have life in his name.

But what of those who struggle to believe? It is a real mistake to reduce faith in Jesus to believing certain doctrines or facts about him. Faith in Jesus is about following him, about trusting him and living the life he gives us. Like Thomas, many of us do that with all sorts of unresolved intellectual doubts about the historical or doctrinal content of the stories about Jesus. Jesus is not the least bit threatened by such doubts, and neither need we be. Faith in Jesus is not about eliminating doubts, let alone about ridding ourselves of the doubters. Faith in Jesus is about honestly facing our doubts and choosing to commit ourselves to following Jesus anyway.

John did not close this passage by saying I have written this down “so that you may come to believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and be accepted for the correctness of your doctrine.” Rather, he said I have written this down “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.”

Whatever doubts we may have God understands and loves us just as Jesus loved Thomas. The joy is that when we are able to commit to following Christ our doubts no longer trap us but we are set free to live.


Let us pray for a world in need of peace: peace between warring nations,

peace between conflicting political ideologies, peace between peoples of faith.

Let us pray for a world in need of love: love for people who have lost their self-respect, love for friends who have become alienated, love for relatives who have lost their affection for each other.

Let us pray for a world in need of hope: hope in the midst of despair when all seems lost,

hope when evil seems to be winning, hope for a better future for everyone.

Let us pray for a world in need of joy: joy when there is cause for celebration,

joy where there is a reason to give thanks, joy as a means of sharing in the wonder of creation. Amen.


Come, let us with our Lord arise,

Our Lord, Who made both earth and skies;

Who died to save the world He made,

And rose triumphant from the dead;

He rose, the Prince of life and peace,

And stamped the day for ever His.

‘This is the day the Lord hath made’ −

That all may see His love displayed,

May feel His resurrection’s power,

And live again to fall no more;

Their heart and mind and will renewed,

And filled with all the life of God.

Then let us render Him His own,

With solemn prayer approach the throne,

With meekness hear the Gospel word,

With thanks His dying love record;

Our joyful hearts and voices raise,

And fill His courts with songs of praise.

Honour and praise to Jesus pay

Throughout His consecrated day;

Be all in Jesus’ praise employed,

Nor leave a single moment void;

With utmost care the time improve,

And only breathe His praise and love.


Lord, may we go into the coming days seeking the truth of your love for all.

And so may we know the blessing of God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, this day and forever more. Amen.

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