John 20.24-29 Thomas
Today’s Resurrection appearance is from John 20 Jesus appears to Thomas, the disciple who had asserted he would not believe in Jesus’ resurrection until he had felt the wounds in his hands and side.
So I suggest as a symbol a nail or some other sharp piercing object.
If you don’t have them with you, I suggest you pause now to get it and then resume.
Take time now to settle into this space, let your eyes close, your body relax, your breathing steady and let yourself be
Be in God’s welcoming presence
Receive the welcome for you
Breathe it in
Soak in the welcoming gaze
Relax into it’s hold
In the quiet stillness, let any need for assurance or reassurance come to mind.
Name it to God
And focus on your need, your longing, your desire for this assurance or reassurance
Ask God to graciously meet you in this.
Now to pick up the symbol and press on its sharp edge – so that you feel a little discomfort – hold this as the presence of your need, longing, desire as we listen to the reading:
Continuing to hold symbol pressing into your hand, the presence of your need, longing desire for assurance, in your minds eye enter the upper room where the disciples are gathered eight days after Thomas had said . , ‘Unless I see in his hands the mark of the nails, and thrust my finger into the mark of the nails, and thrust my hand into his side, I shall never believe.’
Let the scene emerge – the room, the furniture, the people, who do you notice, where are you…
Listen – conversations, other sounds
Smells – oil lamps, food, people
Notice the atmosphere – the mood – contrasts between people
Thomas – how is he – how are the others with him
How are you feeling about Thomas? Is there anything you want to say to him, discuss, understand?
Take time to be with him, talking and listening
Jesus comes, stands in the middle of the room.
Look at him, notice,
How are you affected?
Listen to him ‘Peace to you”
How does that land for you?
Watch as he approaches Thomas
Bring your finger here and see my hands, and bring your hand here and thrust it into my side,
Look at Jesus’ wounds, and at Jesus’ face, notice the spirit to Jesus’ words to Thomas
Look at Thomas – notice his reaction
My Lord and my God
Look at how Jesus and Thomas are with each other – notice their joy
And listen to Jesus’ words Because you have seen me, you have come to faith. Happy are those who did not see and believed’
What do you notice about the tone of these words – and their meaning to you
Jesus comes to you – its your time to chat with him
Take time with him to talk about what you have witnessed, heard, felt… where it seems to be taking you…
Let the conversation come to an end…
Make your goodbye to risen Jesus
Come back to your space
Notice how you are and the symbol in your hand
What is the sense of your need, longing, desire for assurance is now.
Notice any way it has shifted or changed
Ponder what you are most grateful for from this time
And what grace, what help from God you need
In awareness of God’s continuing loving presence – give thanks and ask for what you need.
Glory be to the Father…
Next week’s meditation is Jesus appearing to the disciples while they fish, invites them to breakfast and has a deep conversation with Peter about his love for him. So I suggest finding a symbol of love – particularly of your love for God.
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This passage is such an interesting passage as the tradition of ‘doubting Thomas’ as an illustration of how not to be faithful hangs like a dark cloud over the way this story is understood. I’ve long let go of believing doubt as inherently unfaithful – knowing it more often than not, the entry point to a grappling that leads to a deeper faith response. So I refuse to use the title ‘doubting’ for Thomas. The tradition isn’t helped by the words Jesus concludes this encounter with, which I suspect the gospel writer put there, to sermonise!
I found, as I was preparing this meditation, myself seeing so much of a parallel between Thomas’ brash proclamation that he wouldn’t believe unless… and Peter’s equally brash proclamations. The disciples are never paragons of profound faith and wisdom – and in that they give us all hope that our human frailties are not beyond the transforming work of God. It seems to me that the point of the human fickleness that the disciples exemplify in the gospels is not there so much to judge, as to help us recognise ourselves as human and that Jesus relates to us too.
Of course in leading this meditation all these thoughts are left unsaid. Not because I don’t want to say it, but because if I say it, the listener will know its I who said it – but if it emerges in their encounter with the passage and Jesus then they will know it was a God given insight and so it will be far more effective than any of my words and thoughts can ever be. I don’t know whether this will happen of course, and again I’m left having to trust that God is more than capable of communicating the needful words and insights to the individuals listening.