April 23, 2017–Belief, Doubt, Certainty

Posted on April 18, 2017 by faithlens

Angie Larson, Clive, IA

 

Warm-up Question

How did you come to believe in Jesus?

Belief, Doubt, Certainty

GlobeServe Ministries in Ghana, West Africa has been expanding at an amazing rate.  The organization has been in existence for twenty years and started out with a passion to go to villages where there are no churches and share with them the love of God.  GlobeServe started in the small town of Adidome and had five people for their first worship service. According to Rev. Samuel Kofi Dunya, the head of GlobeServe, they are now planting a church in rural northern Ghana and in the northern Volta region every four days and there is talk about moving into surrounding Burkina Faso and Togo as well. 

GlobeServe operates on the belief that, as neighboring communities see and hear about the difference a church and Christian leaders are making in one village, they will ask that it be done in their communities too.  They see the change in their neighbors even though they are not sure what is causing it. Rev. Dunya said, “The chiefs come and say to me, we want that for our community too. It’s God who opens the doors. They do not know what it means to have a church and faith in Jesus, but they invite us in and they are changed.” Each week GlobeServe churches have approximately 63,000 worshippers, most of whom had never heard of Jesus before.  “They keep asking and we keep going,” says Rev. Dunya, “it’s amazing what the Spirit can do with the unbeliever.” In Ghana many are coming to faith in Jesus and peace is growing between villages because people  see what God does in the lives of those who believe.

Discussion Questions

  • Have you thought about how you came to faith?
  • Do you talk to others about your faith? Why or why not? What can get in the way of sharing your faith with others?
  • What gets in the way of others seeing the Spirit in you?

Second Sunday of Easter

Acts 2:14a, 22-32

1 Peter 1:3-9

John 20:19-31

(Text links are to Oremus Bible Browser. Oremus Bible Browser is not affiliated with or supported by the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. You can find the calendar of readings for Year B at Lectionary Readings

For lectionary humor and insight, check the weekly comic Agnus Day.

 

Gospel Reflection

Some call this text the “Doubting Thomas” passage because we often focus on Thomas unfavorably. Let’s set the scene in John’s gospel. The resurrected Jesus has appeared to Mary, but not yet to the other disciples. The disciples are hiding out in a locked house, fearful that what happened to their friend Jesus might happen to them.  This makes sense, doesn’t it? It would be scary to have watched your friend die and know that those same people are likely looking for you.  Here in the midst of their fear, Jesus shows up! Locked doors cannot keep him out!  Fear cannot keep him out.  He shows up among the disciples and offers them peace.  Then Jesus shows them his scarred hands and side. Yet, one is not with him, Thomas.

When Thomas returns his friends tell him of the risen Lord. No wonder Thomas struggles to get his head around what they are telling him. It’s not so much that he defiantly doubts.  Like all this friends, he is overcome with grief and fear. Before he can believe he wants the same thing his friends got, to see Jesus’ hands and side. When Jesus arrives the second time he offers Thomas the same thing he offered to the others a week prior.  Indeed, Jesus offers him more, the opportunity to touch his wounds.  But it seems that he does not need to touch after all; the intimate offer from one who loves him causes Thomas to exclaim, “My Lord and my God.”

Belief comes from the Holy Spirit. It moves from disciple to disciple until it spreads across the world. In rural Ghana Jesus is still walking through doors and making himself known by the visible change occurring in community after community.  In our own communities Jesus is still making himself known despite our struggles and doubts, showing how the Holy Spirit comes through our locked doors and our fears to help us.

God’s care is ever as personal as Jesus’ gentle invitation to Thomas.  When you doubt or struggle, Jesus comes, showing the marks of his cross, 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.”

Discussion Questions

  • How do you experience Jesus in your life?
  • Why would you want to have life in Christ?  What does that mean?  How is that different from any other form of “life?”
  • What “doors” of fear or doubt could Jesus walk through in your life?

Activity Suggestions

Ask students to write a statement of doubt. Have them list their fears, their questions, their unbeliefs on a paper.  Discuss the following quote alongside of their statements. Anne Lamott – “The opposite of faith is not doubt, it is certainty.”

Closing Prayer

Blessed Savior, Use us to speak hope in your son’s name for the world.  Guide us to be able to show others so that they may want some of the peace that we have through your son.  Lord, we give you our doubts. We give you our fears. We give you the doors and barriers we put up, knowing that you will walk right through them. Thank you for bringing your son through all of them and to us.  In your name we pray, amen.

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