Story of Wonder
We learn in 1 Chronicles 16 that telling stories of God’s goodness and giving thanks was at the center of Hebrew worship. The Israelites set aside time to practice gratitude within their worship by speaking of God’s mighty deeds and remembering his blessings, wonderful works, and faithfulness.
We’ve begun asking folks in our community to share their Stories of Wonder at our public worship. These are stories of God working in our midst, speaking, leading, and providing for his people. This gives us an opportunity to recognize and rejoice in God’s powerful deeds, and it also trains us to pay attention to how God might be at work in our own lives. This one is from Sarah.
Last week I was deeply moved during the sermon, wherein our guest speaker JR Briggs talked about the disciple Thomas, also known as ‘doubting Thomas.’ Thomas doubted that Jesus was resurrected and when Jesus appeared to him, Jesus allows Thomas to touch the wounds in his hands and on his side. There was a famous painting JR put on the on the screen by the Italian painter Carvaggio depicting the scene: Jesus was guiding Thomas’ hand into his side, so that Thomas could touch the wounds of the resurrected Savior and believe. That message was so powerful to me, not only because of the story of Thomas which is powerful enough in and of itself – a man that after having doubted the risen Christ, sells himself into slavery to become a missionary to South Asia. But there is an extra dimension of depth in this for me, because the doubt of the Apostle Thomas is why I am standing here today. Because of Thomas’ doubt and then his willingness to become a slave and share Christ in India, the seed of Christianity in India began to blossom.
As far back as my family can remember, we have been deeply entrenched in the Christian tradition of the Marthoma church, on both my mother and my father’s side. Marthoma church means “Church of Thomas,” so we have always traced our Christian roots back to the disciple Thomas. Last week I just had an overwhelming sense of gratefulness because Jesus came to Thomas in his doubt, and because Thomas was honest about his doubt, it propelled his faith forward into sowing the seeks of a church that now has over 1 million members worldwide. Just to put this into perspective, India is only 2.3% Christian, and the Marthoma Church is only 3.6% of those Christians, which is about 900,000 people. So what are the odds that my great great great great great great grandparents would’ve grown up in the Marthoma Church, and that they would keep their children, and their children, and their children within the church and then eventually my parents, born and brought up in the church who moved to the United States and help found a local Marthoma church congregation in South Florida, would have me attend, wherein I was born and raised accepted Christ? It’s unbelievable! So even standing here, it is deeply shocking and humbling to me to think I wouldn’t be here without the grace of Christ upon Thomas and upon my entire family history.
So while JR was speaking, and as I was thinking about my upbringing and my conversion in the Mar Thoma church, I thought to myself, “Jesus would’ve come down to earth, chosen Thomas as a disciple, put himself through all of the agony of the cross, been resurrected, confronted Thomas’ doubt and then sent Thomas to India, just so that I, Sarah, would be a follower of Christ.” Jesus would have done it all just for me, and that’s the truth and that is what it truly feels like. Because the odds of it all are unbelievable. I also kept thinking the depth of what God can do through a sinner and a doubter like me, like you, like Thomas is greater than anything we can fathom. We might not see it or realize it in our lifetime, but you have every reason to believe that the fruit of you confronting your doubt will go far, because I am a Christian as a result of Thomas’ doubt.