This past Sunday was the most fun I've had during a children's time in recent memory - although I usually do enjoy it. The story was 'doubting' Thomas. With the children, I played the game 'I doubt it' inspired by a piece of writing by Amy Yoder McGloughlin over at Practicing Families blog. I shared some 'facts' about myself and I encouraged the children to call my bluff if they didn't believe what I told them by calling out 'I doubt it'. I was a little surprised how much they got into it.
These are the facts I shared :
- I was so smart that I started kindergarten when I was 3 (not true - and they knew it)
- I have a little plane which I like to take for flights around Seattle on sunny days (also not true, although I wish!)
- I own a camel (not true, although I have ridden a camel)
- When I was born, I was came out yellow (true but the kids were on a roll with their 'I doubt it's by then)
- I have blue skin (obviously false...or is it?)
Well, it might be sort of tricky, but I do have blue skin. I have a tattoo of a blue cross on my wrist (pictured below). I couldn't prove or disprove any of the other things, although I could probably dig up a picture of my jaundiced infant self. But I could and did show the children my tattoo where my skin is blue. I offered to let them touch it if they wanted to. A few kids took me up on it. A few were vocally still doubtful that it was real.
Like his friends and fellow disciple, Thomas is not ready to believe that Jesus has risen from the dead - even though their friend Mary has already seen him - until they see for themselves, feel his breath, touch his hands. When the disciples tell Thomas that their dear friend Jesus was with them, Thomas - who loved him and had followed him, but wasn't with his other friends when Jesus came to see them - said 'I doubt it.' The friends all got to have that first shocking experience him when he offered peace, and the breath of the Spirit. But Thomas' response: "Good one, you guys. I’m not going to believe it until I see Jesus with my own eyes." He loved Jesus and he wasn't going to be fooled.
Jesus also loved Thomas, so when he came to visit again, he doesn't get angry with Thomas, or scold him. He invites Thomas to look really carefully. Even to touch him – just like the children could examine and touch my blue skin. It was okay with Jesus that Thomas wanted to do that - to make really sure.
Not having the advantage of Jesus' presence with us in the skin, we're perpetually in the state that Thomas was in. And in fact I think our congregation is one that has always been open to doubt, to questions, to skeptics. We faithfully follow the Jesus we know and love in the midst of this doubt. Even though we weren't in the room, we accept the commission: "Just as the Father sent me, so I send you." At the same time, I am encouraged to live into the invitation to belief, in that balance there is blessing.