may 10th, 2020 – that you might

While it was still dark
While it was still dark.
While it was still night.
While she could not see.
While she thought death held sway.
While she grieved.
While she wept.
While it was still dark, resurrection began.
When it is dark.
When it is night.
When we cannot see.
When we think death holds sway.
When we grieve.
When we weep.
When it is dark, resurrection is at work.
Jan Richardson


He is jealous for me
loves like a hurricane, I am a tree
Bending beneath
the weight of His wind and mercy
When all of a sudden I am unaware
of these afflictions eclipsed by glory
And I realize just how beautiful You are
and how great Your affection is for me
Oh, how He loves us
oh how He loves us
How He loves us all
And we are His portion and He is our prize
drawn to redemption by the grace in His eyes
If grace is an ocean
we’re all sinking
Oh, He loves us
oh how He loves us
How He loves us all
John Mark McMillan

Now Thomas, who was one of the Twelve, had not been with the other disciples when Jesus appeared to them. So they kept telling him, “We have seen the Lord!”
But Thomas said to them, “Unless I see the nail scars in his hands, touch them with my finger, and then put my hand where the spear went into his side I will never believe.”


Eight days later the disciples were together again, and this time Thomas was with them. The doors were locked; but suddenly Jesus stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.”


Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here, and look at my hands; then reach out your hand and put it here where the spear went into my side. Stop your doubting, and believe!”


Thomas answered him, “My Lord and my God!”


Then Jesus told him, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”


The disciples saw Jesus do many other miraculous signs in addition to the ones recorded in this book. But these have been written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God; and that believing you may have life in His name.
John 20:24-31

All Who Are Thirsty (click here for audio link)
All who are thirsty, all who are weak
just come to the fountain
dip your heart in the stream of life
Let the pain and the sorrow
be washed away
In the waves of His mercy
as deep cries out to deep
Come, Lord Jesus, come
Won’t you come
won’t you come
Nothing but Your will for me
I am only free when You come
Come, Lord Jesus, come
Benton Brown
Glenn Robertson

Hey everyone – best wishes to all of you – it’s good to be with through the technology of waves and wires. As well, to those of you who are mothers, Happy Mother’s Day.
Just a couple of things before we get into our reflection…
First, if you are someone who sews, and you have some time over the next few days, the Office of the Treaty Commissioner has asked for assistance in making homemade masks that will be distributed in northern communities to help slow the spread of COVID-19.
If this is something you are able to help with, you can follow the link that is just below the link for this liturgy. If you need more information or have questions, contact Kari at her email address which is


And second, over the next few weeks we are  highlighting our church’s ministry partners. We’ve asked each of them to send us an update, including ways that we can best support them at this time. So today we are highlighting InterVarsity Campus Ministry. The link to access Shirley and Gerry’s update is also below the link for this liturgy. If you would like to hear it now, just pause this, click the link and you can have a listen.


If you’re counting, it’s the fifth Sunday of Easter Celebration. During this season we are spending time in the Gospel accounts of the resurrection, reflecting on and trying to better understand the implications of the resurrection of Jesus. So this week I thought we’d spend time with Thomas and try and put ourselves into his post-resurrection experience.
When I was a kid, my Sunday School teachers painted a picture of Thomas as a person (or as the disciple) who didn’t have faith because he wouldn’t believe that Jesus rose from the dead. They called him ‘Doubting Thomas’ – which I think is an overly simplistic way to summarize him as a disciple, not to mention that it’s a pretty unfair way to characterize him as a person. (From what we know of Thomas he seems to be really loyal to Jesus, has a sharp mind, and asks good questions – check out John 11:16 and John 14:5) But Thomas the doubter—that’s how I was introduced to him. In fact the phrase Doubting Thomas was used as a way to shame a person for not believing that a thing was possible, even for a thing that had nothing to do with the Bible.
For example…
Me: Umm, guys, I don’t think you’re going to make it across the border with those open cans of beer in the car.
Zeke in Texaco: Oh, Rob, don’t be such a doubting Thomas.


And that my friends is how the band I was in broke up.


Ok, that story isn’t true. But if wondered if the story was true, or even if you decided that the story wasn’t true, you were active in engaging doubt. And as a side note, let’s remember that sometimes asking questions or having doubts is actually a good thing.


It’s easy to think of doubt as the antithesis of belief – that doubt and belief exist as opposites – but actually that’s not accurate. Doubt is not the same thing as unbelief. In a binary sense, there is belief and unbelief. But then doubt is the movement, the wavering, the vacillating between unbelief and belief. Having doubt is to be of two minds, like standing at the crossroad of the mind. Doubt is better equated with being skeptical. Entertaining an idea of something having potential to be possible and not possible at the same time is the motion of doubt.


Like thinking, “I have my doubts about this working, but I’m going to go ahead and give it a try”.


This past week I was thinking about the process of deciding to believe or not believe seems to work.   For me, I recognize that there seems to be a tipping point where enough doubt changes a maybe into a definite – in other words, there is a movement from I’m not sure about this to, Nope, I don’t believe that or to Yep, that seems right, I believe that.


I don’t know if this will work, but let’s try playing a game with this in mind. I’m going to tell you four things that I say are true. As I mention them, you decide if you agree that they are true, and take note of the process by which you come to your conclusion. Here we go…
  1. You will have more pizza to eat if you order one eighteen inch pizza than if you order two twelve inch pizzas.
  2. Both the skin and the fur of tigers are striped.
  3. There was a chicken named Mike who lived for eighteen months without his head.
  4. There are more trees on the planet earth than stars in the Milky Way galaxy.
So, yes these four statements are true. The pizza problem can be figured out using mathematics: area=πr2. If you shaved a tiger’s fur you would discover striped skin, assuming you survived giving the haircut. If you were to go to the University of Utah there is documented proof of the headless chicken. You can see pictures on the internet of Mike (and we all know, if it’s on the interweb it’s definitely true.) The simple explanation is that when the chicken was being butchered the farmer missed the jugular vein and most of the brainstem (which is at the back of the skull) so that’s how the chicken was able to survive. And regarding the trees and stars—NASA estimates that there are between 100 – 450 billion stars in the Milky Way galaxy. Thomas Crowther, who did a Postdoctoral Fellowship at Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Sciences, teamed up with a Remote Sensing Expert named Henry Glick and using survey reports, satellite data and tree density models determined that in 2013 there were about three trillion trees on the planet earth. Three trillion. That still blows my mind.
If you think about the four statements there is a movement from things that are easy to prove empirically to things, though rooted in empirical data, require trusting the research of experts. In fact, I had lots of doubts about the chicken and the trees and stars. It does seem like it’s easier to believe something that we can see, or touch, or prove on our own.


So let’s now move that into our Gospel story with Thomas. Let’s put ourselves into the story and in doing so remind ourselves of a couple of things. First, at this stage in the unfolding of resurrection there had only been one encounter with Jesus and the disciples and Thomas had missed it. So all he had heard was talk of seeing Jesus. Mary said she saw Jesus, a couple of men on a road to Emmaus said they saw Jesus, and (reading into the text a bit) the other ten disciples, who had been together when Thomas was away, said they had seen Jesus. So there was a lot space and time where Jesus was not present. And everything was different. I think the disciples would have thought that if Jesus was alive again that things would go back to the way it had been. But it was anything but that.
So Thomas keeps hearing the other disciples tell him that they have seen Jesus. That he had appeared out of thin air in the middle of the room, that he had eaten with them, that he had spoken to them, that he had given them instructions and the filling of the Spirit. I think Thomas probably felt on the outside, but also, having a keen mind, would have wondered why Jesus wasn’t around. If he was actually risen why was he not present with them. Why was he nowhere?
We don’t know how many days it had been since Jesus had appeared, but it had been a while. And it seems that Thomas finally had enough of hearing the stories but not actually seeing Jesus. He blurts out unless I see Jesus in person, unless I touch the scars on his hands and side I won’t believe that he is alive.
I think I might have said that too. I think that I would have felt deserted and abandoned by Jesus. Left to try and work things out on my own. I might not have called the others liars, but I think inside I would have wondered if they had invented things in their minds to make themselves feel better.


But then Jesus shows up in the same manner as before. The disciples are behind closed and locked doors, fearing for their well being, and suddenly Jesus is there with them. He appeared out of nowhere. But he has a physical body. Crazy.
And he speaks peace to them. The deepest peace of Shalom being set right again.
Then he turns to Thomas, who must have been freaking out, and invites Thomas to come to him. He doesn’t scold him, as you might expect. He simply says, ‘Come touch my hands and feel my side.’ He tells Thomas to stop letting his doubt prevent him from believing.
I could be wrong about this, but I don’t think Thomas needed to touch Jesus at that point to believe. The next thing in the account is Thomas saying, ‘My Lord and my God.’ Maybe Thomas touched Jesus, I don’t know. But what is clear is that Thomas knows he is standing in the presence of the risen Lord.


Jesus says that Thomas believes because he was able to physically see Jesus. Which, totally makes sense. But Jesus goes on to say that there is a blessing for those who don’t physically see Jesus but still believe. That’s us.


I like the ending of the account where John writes that the reason he has written all things down is to help others who weren’t physically around Jesus believe. But the believing isn’t just about arriving at the conclusion that Jesus is true. The believing in Jesus is to open up a relationship that enables us to have life. To find hope, and healing, and restoration.
I sometimes struggle with doubt. In my mind it would be so much easier to believe in Jesus if he would just come to my front door and introduced himself. But I don’t think that’s going to happen.


Except that I was reflecting on something that Teresa of Avila wrote and it reminded me of how we are to be the body of Christ. She wrote, ‘Christ has no body now but yours. No hands, no feet on earth but yours. Yours are the eyes through which he looks compassion on this world. Yours are the feet with which he walks to do good. Yours are the hands through which he blesses all the world. Yours are the hands, yours are the feet, yours are the eyes, you are his body. Christ has no body now on earth but yours.’
The idea being that Jesus left us to continue the resurrection work that he began. But he didn’t leave us alone. He gave us his Spirit and he gave us each other. Through the empowering of the Spirit we are the face, the hands, the feet, the love of Jesus to those in this world.
Sometimes it’s hard to see the good in this world. Sometimes we feel alone or cut off. Sometimes the darkness, the shadows, the pain, the disappointment, the narratives of brokenness bring doubt. But Jesus is present in those places, in Spirit, and in his body, the Church. In you and I.
I had moments of feeling like Thomas this week struggling with doubts, laying down my own ultimatums for Jesus.
But then in His quiet and steady way Jesus did come to my door and spoke words of peace. And he showed me his hands and side, too. I saw him in a text, in a phone call, in an email, in a guitar lick, in a little treat at the back door, in a Dairy Queen sundae, and in wave across the street. The truth is that all of those things helped me see Jesus, which in turn bolstered my belief and helped open me up to receive life. So thank you for that.
So let’s continue to hope and trust and being the hands and feet of Jesus by filling in the gaps for one another in the name of Jesus. Amen.

Caught in the tide, pulled by the sea
fighting the waves, hope giving way
will doubt prevail
But then you are there, voice speaking peace
hope by your side, love in your eyes
doubts fade away
I lift up my eyes to see
I hold out my hands to receive
I open my heart and dare to believe
He is alive, He is alive


For those who are spent and those who can’t see
fighting the waves, hope giving way
you’re not alone
We’ll lift up our eyes to see
we’ll hold out our hands to receive
We’ll open our heart, dare to believe
that He is alive, He is alive


We lift up our eyes
we hold out our hands
We open our hearts, we do believe
that You are alive, You are alive
You are alive, You are alive
rob Priestley
John Erik Gustafson

O Lord our God,
as we have sinned,
whether in word, or deed, or thought,
forgive us all,
for Thou art good and lovest humankind.
Grant us a peaceful and undisturbed sleep,
and deliver us from all influence
and temptation of the evil one.


Raise us up again in proper time,
that we may glorify Thee
as we learn to live alive in the hope, victory,
and power of the resurrection.


Thou art the eternal Father,
the Only begotten Son,
and the all holy, and good,
and life giving Spirit.
Now and ever, and unto the ages of ages.

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