Sermons
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Third & Adams Street, PO Box 9774, Moscow, Idaho USA | (208) 882-3715

Do Not Doubt, But Believe - April 15, 2018

John 20:24-29

This passage is a continuation of the story we've been hearing for the last couple of weeks. It started on Easter when the women went to anoint Jesus' body at the tomb, only to find he wasn't there. They went back to the disciples to tell them what happened only to be told they were....."delirious". Then last week Jesus came to the disciples in the upper room only to have them doubt him....they saw him and they doubted. They heard him and they doubted, they touched him and still they had some trouble. It simply seemed unreal and unbelievable. And now, this week, we hear of

Thomas....who hadn't been with the women, and hadn't been with the others in the upper room...and he comes back and the disciples tell him, "We've seen Jesus" and he says, "yeah right....it's impossible....I'll believe it when I see it." And that was it for a whole week. It's interesting to me that we don't hear the disciples trying to convince him. We don't hear them conveying their doubt turned to belief. And surely, something must have been said in the course of 7 days, but whatever the disciples said didn't do it for Thomas. He needed to experience Jesus for himself.

And on the 7th day, he did. They were again in the upper room and had the door locked, just like when Jesus first appeared. And just like when he first appeared Jesus just sort of shows up in the middle of them....no knock on the door, no climbing up a rope ladder and through a window, just appears....which makes most of us think of an apparition...after all the only ones he goes through walls are ghosts. But he wasn't a ghost. He goes to Thomas, already knowing he had drawn an indignant line in the sand and puts out his hands....touch me...feel where the nails were. And offers for him to touch his side...where he had been pierced by the sword...not smoke and mirrors, not an apparition, but real live flesh and blood....skin and scars talking with him.

And in seeing and touching and hearing, Thomas was able to set aside his doubts and believe. He saw Jesus, not just with his eyes, but with his heart, and knew..."My Lord and my God"—it was him...in the flesh...again, even after death.

Now, I don't know about you, but I've always been grateful for Thomas. I've been grateful there was a disciple, someone who knew Jesus and loved him and followed him for 3 years who still obviously struggled with doubt. Somehow, Thomas has given me permission to have my own doubts and questions and draw my own line in the sand of "Jesus, I want to experience that for myself." And part of that permission comes from Jesus, not just Thomas...after all, Thomas could have doubted and been maligned or ridiculed or mocked. But instead Jesus gets it, he's not harsh or critical. He's basically saying "Ok Thomas, you have doubts...that's fair, but I'm real....come here and see for yourself." Jesus himself makes it ok for there to be doubt, for us to want and need to experience Jesus for ourselves.

This is how we operate....with questions and doubts....with wanting to know and see and experience things for ourselves. They say that seeing is believing....but what they really mean is seeing for yourself, in person, in real life....leads you to believe. Think about it. It's great to hear about something amazing. Even better if we can see pictures of it. But all together something so much better if we get to experience it for ourselves. Right?
What if I tell you that in 2005 I traveled in the Middle East and one of the stops we made was in Jordan at a place called Petra? I could tell you that it's this beautiful place full of canyons and rock like you might find at Zion National Park or Antelope Canyon. The rocks are various shades of pink and orange and brown. The major distinction between Zion or Antelope and Petra is Petra has carvings on the rocks.....but not simple ones...extraordinary ones...spaces as big as this sanctuary. Can you imagine it?
Now, what if I were to show you? Here are some images of Petra....the canyon...the famous image from the famous movie...the famous guys from the famous movie....there he is again....but the beauty of this place goes far beyond what you've seen or think you know....other carvings, other look out points, the marbled rocks...can you imagine it better now?
But what if you had been there...the experience would be wholly different....because you'd have more than images...you'd have the feel of the rocks under your hands, the expanse of the treasury and the temple...the burn in your lungs from the 2 mile hike to see over the whole place. You'd know the sounds of the birds or the horse hooves as they walk through the canyons. You'd have experienced it, and you'd be able to claim the beauty and awe of it for yourself.
That's the kind of thing we all like. If I were to offer you an all expense paid trip and promise you'd be safe the whole time, and pain-free, and there'd be something for your kids....all the details...you'd go...right...? To experience it for yourself, to see with your own eyes...to know for your own self what is true and real and often indescribable.
And so it was with Thomas....he wanted the real deal experience. To know more than what the other disciples had to say. To see more than what he might conjure in his mind or see in a picture, but the actual real deal Jesus risen from the dead. And when he asked for it...Jesus obliged. Not like a vending machine or a genie....it wasn't instantaneous, but he came to Thomas so he could have a real-life experience of his own.

And, I believe, he'll come to us so we can have a real life experience of our own...one where we can do more than hear another person's story. One that is beyond our mind's eye, or even a picture, but one where we can see and feel and smell and hear with our own bodies so that we might believe.

Current Church News

  • Christmas Eve Services - Dec 24, 2018

    4:00 PM Family Christmas Eve. This service is especially designed for wiggly, giggly children and is intentionally kept shorter. It will include music by Children's bell choir and leadership from children.

    7:00 PM Traditional Christmas Eve. This service includes music from Choir and Bell Choirs, plus Holy Communion and the Candlelight Ceremony. Child care is provided.

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Sunday morning parking at the church is available in the high school parking lot on Third Street across from the church and in the city lots west of the church. These lots are available only on Sunday mornings. A small lot for handicapped parking is available just off of Adams Street on the north side of the church, with an accessible entrance directly into the sanctuary. A lift operates between the Fellowship Hall (3rd Street level) and the Sanctuary . William Sound System Receivers and Headsets are available to assist with hearing problems.

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The First United Methodist Church of Moscow, Idaho takes as our mission to be the body of Jesus Christ, ministering to a community which draws strength from its diversity. Our mission centers on the worship of God, expressed through varied forms of prayer, preaching, music, and ritual.  See more...