There is a brand new flying machine of sorts out in the world. It’s called a Hotelicopter. Not just a helicopter, but one that includes an elegant hotel. The ad contains a spectacular picture of a grand beast of a machine that appears to be at least five stories high and has 4 incredibly large propellers, many many portal type windows line the outside and there appears to be two cockpits for the pilots. The ad reads “As you might have guessed, the experience on board the Hotelicopter is far from your standard Motel 6. This gigantic flying machine features everything you would expect from a 5-star hotel—from private entertainment systems and room service to extras like spa treatments, yoga classes, gaming and a tea garden. The price to stay in this special hotel is, as you can imagine, quite high (no pun intended) and I felt as you can imagine, when I read this, Nice, but I will never get to stay in it. And it turns out I was very right. It appears that this was all apart of an elaborate, April fool's joke that fooled many more than just me a few weeks ago. The pictures that I saw were actually digitally enhanced images of a Soviet Mil V-12 Hotelicopter. This campaign saw internal and exterior images of the flying hotel bounce around the internet to much 'oohing' and 'ahhing' and more than just a little excitement. Certainly, this all seemed real enough – it all looked so real. The Hotelicopter ad contained so much detail like: "The Hotelicopter features 18 luxuriously-appointed rooms for adrenaline junkies seeking a truly unique and memorable travel experience." They even went as far as to state the safety precautions of the craft. But alas it was a hoax, actually a cleverly designed ad campaign to direct traffic to the new website of a Travel Agency. Yet again we are given another reason to doubt what we see and hear in the world around us. As technology advances we can no longer trust what we are seeing. We are surrounded by things we doubt, and we should doubt them. We need to be careful of so many things. There are people trying to trick us all the time. Some just for fun or entertainment. But there are also con artists and manipulative people who may call us on the telephone telling us that we have won a trip or money.
The New Brunswick Securities Commission has a whole guide filled with information on recognizing con artists and investment fraud. It instructs us on how to ensure that we are on the alert and that we should have doubts and that we should be listening them when things sound too good to be true.
Every year Canadians lose millions of dollars to investment fraud and various other con artists. It says that we will never know who is trying to con us, it could even be a friend who themselves have been conned and are unaware as yet. They can approach us through the Telephone the Mail or through advertisements. There are all sorts of ways that people are being fooled in the world and we are being taught how to avoid being conned on a pretty regular basis now by the news media and through goverement offices too. It is somewhat of an epidemic.
But doubt isn’t just now in our time, It isn’t only modern society that is weary of being tricked or fooled. There is doubt throughout the bible. As well as scripture on how to overcome doubt when it is applied to our faith.
In today’s reading from John we hear the Story of Thomas. Who is Thomas, well he was one of the twelve disciples or apostles of Jesus, called ‘Didymus’ (‘twin’) in the Gospel of John. He appears in each of the apostolic lists. But even though he is always listed as one of the apostles he doesn’t get mentioned much in the synoptic Gospels, Thomas becomes important in the later portions of John’s Gospel. He alone appears to be a tower of strength when he encourages the disciples to accompany Jesus into a hostile Judea even if it means death. He appears to be without understanding when, in John 14:5, he confesses his ignorance about where Jesus is going and therefore finds it difficult to follow him. He is most commonly remembered as the ‘doubting Thomas’ who refused to believe in Jesus’ resurrection until he saw the scars and was invited to place his fingers where the nails were driven and his hand into Jesus’ side. The story stands as a paradigm for all who are called to believe in Christ without having seen him or having been granted tangible proof of his existence. Thomas’s response is that of all who later believe and are faced with the presence of the Holy: ‘My Lord and my God!’ Later in John Thomas is one of the small group of disciples who go fishing and then see the risen Lord.
But even with all that the apostle Thomas is frequently dismissed an seen only as a doubter, "Doubting Thomas."
The label is an unfair one. The Gospel we heard this morning recounts a remarkable story of the resurrection. In this short reading Thomas moves from discouragement, disbelief, a wounded heart, and an outcry against the other disciples to a confession of faith in the living Jesus––"My Lord and my God!'
Easter Day, which was only a week ago. It was revealed that the view that many held
that Jesus was dead and would stay that way was not true. Jesus did not stay dead.
Today, this Second Sunday of Easter. Reveals the view held by many, perhaps once held by Thomas himself, that Thomas was simply unable to believe in the resurrection of Jesus was also a mistake. Thomas does not remain dead in his unbelief. He does not remain faithless –– if he ever was. He experiences a resurrection of his own.
Even though it is what he explicitly asked to do in order to believe There's no evidence that Thomas touches the scars –– he may or may not have done so. What's clear is that he moves ahead in faith. From honest doubt he moves to honest faith, a faith open enough to recognize that the man standing in front of him, this man he knows, this once-crucified, once-dead friend, is also his Lord and his God.
Jesus says, "Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe." These blessed ones that are referred to here have come to belief. Jesus does not require perfect faith from the start. What is asked for is an open heart, one not closed to belief, but not closed by belief either. We are asked for this open heart so we can be lead from honest doubt to honest faith.
The main Hall of the Planetarium was filled with the first and second grade classes from the Elementary school near by. The lights dimmed and the magnificent star show began with a multitude of stars shining on the ceiling above. The guide introduced his talk to the hushed, awed group by stating that on a clear night one can see 3000 stars in the sky. From the first row came a small voice: “One, two, three … ”
The guide, recovering quickly, said, “Well, most people take our word for it.”
This reminded me how Someone once said
If you tell a someone that there are 581,678, 934,341 stars in the universe, they’ll believe you. But if a sign says, “Fresh Paint,” they have to make a personal investigation.
An investigation as a way to dispel our doubt. However if we are consumed and try to investigate everything at the same time we are no longer investigating we are now consumed, immobile. We can create a picture the complete Cynic, one overwhelmed with doubts. Who may say: "I see that the sun is now casting daylight; however, my eyes may be deceiving me about this, and therefore I will light a candle, although the light this candle makes, and perhaps the candle itself may also be an illusion. I may be dreaming, hallucinating, or ill. There are so many possible illusions, delusions and deceptions that it is impossible not to doubt everything." But even while he is saying this, he may also doubt the meaning of the language that he is using. Therefore requiring him to become silent. Completely immobilized by doubt.
We are a culture raised on doubt. We are asked to ask about everything. We are warned by the news all the time that we should not believe when people call us to tell us that we have won trips or that we are pre approved for a guaranteed loan... all we have to do is send a little money first or give them our credit card number. We have to be on our Guard. We warn our children to not take candy or talk to strangers. To always be on our guard, to doubt.
We know if it sounds too good to be true it probably is.
Well to Thomas it all sounded too good to be true. All that he had wanted all that he has prepared for. Even prepared to die, for is coming true, and his friends his companions his family has told him that yes it is all true. He hangs back and doubts it. He needs evidence. How different is that from us. If we were told that Jesus was walking around in Fredericton we would want evidence. There have been many many before who have claimed to be Jesus. They have walked the streets of many cities and towns and claimed that they are the second coming. But there is and was much doubt, healthy doubt and none of these claims were proven. Tomas doubts because we all doubt.
But Thomas provides us with the guide, the ruler to measure how we will know if faced with cause to question. We will be astounded. We will cry My Lord my God.
When we are faced with the reality of the Holy, with our true faith, no further evidence is required. Revelation is upon us and we are left with My Lord My God.
Amazing moments of Faith, of the Holy, of God
When we are faced with our amazing moments of Faith, How do we react? Do we accept it, do we allow the feeling of Gods Love and Presence to wash over us, do we respond with my Lord my God.
The Gospel doesn’t say that Thomas actually touched the wounds of Christ. He didn’t need to. Just in his presence and he knew that he was in the Presence of God. He knew and responded the only way he could at that time “ My Lord My God”
I love the song I can only imagine. The chorus is printed on the front of today’s bulletin
It is a beautiful Gospel song and one that was a favorite of my Best Friends mother, Joan She loved this song so much and the image that it provided her and the way it moved and uplifted her so much so that when she was terminally ill in palliative care and decided that she would make the preparations for her own funeral it was important that this song was played. Well at the funeral it was played and what a Holy moment. The whole congregation was moved and felt the presence of the Holy in that moment, both those who were aware of Joan's fondness of the song and those who may not of but were just inspired by that moment. I wanted to play the first of it for us now …….
Thomas's response gives me confidence, that doubt is ok, that it is something that we need. That a healthy dose of doubt cannot be of disservice to us in a time when so many are coming at us trying to deceive us in so many ways. But when we are face to face with the Holy when it comes right down to it. There is no doubt. God's proof, if you will, is God. We will be wrapped up in the Holy and will know it, through and through, when it is experienced.
I Hope that Thomas didn’t touch the wounds, I hope that he came to a Holy revelation. I hope that it will be that way for all of us, if we come to see the Holy face to face. If we come to see Jesus face to face. I can only Imagine what it will be like, but I imagine that there will be no doubt, that there will be no need for proof, we will be just overwhelmed with recognition. That perhaps we will dance, or that in awe we may be still. Perhaps we will kneel or sing Hallelujah, perhaps we won’t be able to speak at all. Perhaps we will be like Thomas and cry “My Lord My God.” I can only Imagine. But I am sure of one thing, there will be no Doubt.