I am the kind of person who cannot under any circumstances watch scary movies. I get so scared and they stick with me. I’ve experienced nightmares for weeks after watching movies like Signs or Invasion of the Body Snatchers. I can only imagine what kind of trauma I would have if I watched a real slasher or horror movie.
I can’t even watch TV shows about the paranormal dealing with Ghosts and Spirits. I’m such a fraidy cat.
I also have had severe anxiety over nightmares where I am so afraid, I couldn’t even scream. When I lived in Westport, I lived in fear of the eventual Tsunami that will happen one day. It got so bad, that I eventually moved to higher ground in East County.
Natural disasters have also always terrified me. I’ve experienced two tornados up close and in person. I’ve experienced severe dry lightning hitting feet from our home. I’ve experienced living in the path of ash from Mt. St. Helens. I’ve lived through three pretty terrifying car crashes. I’ve experienced the terror of having a child being tested for meningitis. I’ve experienced a pretty bad earthquake when I was young. Most recently, in 2007, I experienced the big storm where I literally thought I was going to die.
All these events have led to a pretty severe case of PTSD where I finally sought professional counseling to work through my issues of fear, and in particular fear of weather related storms.
I would also like to see myself as a person who has a great deal of faith in other people taking care of me, but to be honest, I don’t. I’m pretty much a do it myself kind of person. I have prepared for the many disasters which could happen in our area, and I keep to go bags in every vehicle and in my house. I even have a supply of Potassium Iodide and a Geiger counter in the hopefully unlikely event of unwanted radiation exposure. Gloria Gainer’s song, I Will Survive is my theme song.
Our Gospel reading from John this morning, always speaks right to my heart. The unspeakable has happened; Jesus has been crucified and killed just as he predicted. His Disciples are hiding for fear that they too would be killed. They watched in horror as their Lord was brutally murdered and it shook their world to the core. They have suffered a pretty traumatic event. These days we would recommend that they attend Trauma Counseling.
The Doors and Windows are closed and locked, probably dark, very dark, when suddenly a figure appeared in the room with them.
I can only imagine their fear. Who was this? What was this? A Ghost? Or worse?
But Jesus sensing their fear, says “Peace be with you” in an attempt to calm their nerves. My students would probably say something like, Bro, or Hey ya.
Then the realization that this was their risen Lord standing amongst them and they rejoiced.
They were all there except, poor old Thomas....He missed the first appearance. And when he returned the Disciples filled him in but being a skeptic, he couldn’t believe it without seeing it for himself. Some people call this Gospel the Doubting Thomas Gospel. But I’m not sure that is what was really going through Thomas’ head. Sometimes a Trauma response leads to strange reactions. And perhaps, Thomas was on overload, and couldn’t take one more thing. So he Questioned their story. So many things, bad things, had happened so recently, that Thomas being the practical one, the one who relies on himself for himself, just can’t believe his ears. He must see to believe and understand...Which doesn’t mean that he won’t believe, it’s just hard for him to phantom the concept without actual proof.
The story continues and A week later, the group were once again hunkered down in the protection of a house, still hiding and probably trying to figure out their next moves.
This time Thomas was there. When the Lord appeared to the group, he spoke to Thomas and asked him to feel the Lords hands where they had been pierced.
Jesus says to Thomas, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe”. Poor Thomas knows immediately it is his Lord.
And that is the message that we are asked this morning. Do you need to see proof that God exists? That Jesus was a man and performed so many amazing things? Or can we simply believe in God and trust in that belief?
During all the many traumatic events of my life, I experienced great fear, but I can’t think of one event where I didn’t feel like God had abandoned me even though I am a great doubter of all things.
I will always remember my prayer during the 07 storm as I was hunkered down in the bathtub with my 3 dogs thinking this was the safest place in my house...Dear God, please send the angels to sit on my roof and push the branches and trees away from my house. I must say, the wind which was coming directly out of the west, straight towards my home which was surrounded by very very old tall Doug Firs. The now recognized as a Cat 3 hurricane was pushing trees down all around me, and with one big gust, one of those giant firs came crashing down directly towards my home. But instead of crashing and crushing the center portion of my house, the tree fell parallel to my house only breaking out my front windows.
Was God present? In my opinion, indeed he was. Were there angels protecting me? In my opinion, indeed there were. Could I see God? Could I see the angels? No...I just knew they were there.
Believing without seeing can often be very difficult. Believing just because can be very difficult.
Do we believe and practice believing without seeing in our services here at St. Marks? I certainly hope so.
When the officiant blesses the wine and the bread, do you believe that they become the Blood and Body of Jesus Christ? I certainly hope so, because that is what our doctrine states.
Do you believe that when we ask for forgiveness of our sins that they are truly forgiven? I certainly hope so because that is what our entire Christian faith is based upon.
Do you believe that God is with you at all times?
“Have you believed because you have seen Christ in person”? or do you believe in Christ even though you have yet seen him face to face?
Tough questions. Having Faith is actually a very tough concept if over analyzed. But quite simple if you accept.