.... is the title of my sermon for tomorrow, regarding Thomas and the other disciples. The idea is taken from that small detail about Thomas -- that he was not there on Easter, when the other disciples met the risen Lord. But he was there a week later. So why did he stay away? And what made him return? Those are the questions that intrigued me.
There was another question as well: what would we be willing to do in order to get "Thomas" back? We don't know what the disciples did. We don't know what is was the brought Thomas back.
But my guess is that it had something to do with love.
During Easter our emphasis is going to be on be on love. Each week we'll highlight love in one of its many forms.
Tomorrow is "love for self", which, I'll tell you, was not my main point for the sermon. It's not that I don't think "love for self" is important. Reallly, I don't think Christians should go around hating themselves. And I'm really on board with people he like to scratch out "saved a wretch like me" in "Amazing Grace" and replace it with "saved a soul like me." Self-loathing can be a real problem.
So why do I feel uncomfortable talking about loving ourselves?
Maybe I do have a problem.
Anyway, I heard last week about a church who had a really (ahem) unique marketing idea for Easter. They offered a chance to win a FREE CAR. A friend of mine posted this on his website, and several people left comments, most of them disparaging, except for one young woman. Her point was that we should be willing to do anything, go to any lengths, to get people to come and hear the good news. How DARE we criticize this church!
At one point, I said something about the car being a "gimmick." The young woman then said, "some churches have programs for veterans returning home from overseas. Are they gimmicks? Someone from our church gave someone a car when they heard that their own car had broken down. Was that a gimmick?"
Immediately I thought: No, those are not gimmicks. They are acts of genuine love and caring for people. I don't think that's true about the chance for a free car.
So this weekend, I'm not posting the sermon, which concerns how important it is -- being there. but not just Thomas being there so he can here the Good News.
But it's really more about Jesus being there, being there in the middle of the disciples, in that locked room.
and maybe it's really more about us being there, being there with genuine acts of caring and love for one another.