“Bloom with Passion: The Signs” by The Rev. Stephanie Kendell

April 8th,2021 Categories: Stephanie Kendell Letters, Weekly Letter
Beloved Church,

I hope you had a wonderful Resurrection Sunday and feel the new work that God is doing in you, our community, and our world. God continues to bear fruit with the work we do in community so be sure to join us for all of our ministry gatherings like Yass, Soulfood Fellowship, and our many Bloom gatherings. This week our seminarian Kelsey Creech will be preaching and bringing the good news of Christ to our community, we look forward to seeing you Sunday!

This week we are continuing in the book of John with a story many of us know, but it is not one that we often spend a lot of time with. It’s the story that most of us know through the character of Thomas, or “Doubting Thomas” as he is often referred to. I have a complicated relationship with this text. On the one hand, I love this text because I think we underestimate the role that doubt plays in our faith development. This text reminds us that God can handle our doubt and that even people that personally knew Jesus had doubt in their faith. God was and is abundantly gracious and loving with those who doubt in their faith and I love that.

Now, on the other hand, disbelief in others’ experiences because they differ from our own, is a problem that we see play out all too often in our world. As a woman in this world, my experiences, my body, my call to ministry have all been met with doubt because they differ from the lived experiences of those in power or the understood social norm. We shouldn’t have to open another person’s wound to believe them. O Scripture, you complicated gift!

Now, that is just my experience with this text. Maybe it resonates with you, maybe you have a completely different take, or maybe this is the first time you are reading this passage. But the great thing about scripture is that it allows the Spirit to move you-and the Spirit never leaves you where you started. So, I invite you into this reading and I hope that the Spirit of the living and still speaking God moves within you and brings you to a new place in your faith and relationship with God.

19 In the evening of that same day, the first day of the week, the doors were locked in the room where the disciples were, for fear of the Temple authorities.
Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.” 20 Having said this, the savior showed them the marks of crucifixion.
The disciples were filled with joy when they saw Jesus, 21 who said to them again, “Peace be with you. As Abba God sent me, so I’m sending you.”
22 After saying this, Jesus breathed on them and said,
“Receive the Holy Spirit.
23 If you forgive anyone’s sins, they are forgiven.
If you retain anyone’s sins, they are retained.”
24 It happened that one of the Twelve, Thomas—nicknamed Didymus, or “Twin”—was absent when Jesus came. 25 The other disciples kept telling him, “We’ve seen Jesus!”
Thomas’ answer was, “I’ll never believe it without putting my finger in the nail marks and my hand into the spear wound.”
26 On the eighth day, the disciples were once more in the room, and this time Thomas was with them. Despite the locked doors, Jesus came and stood before them, saying, “Peace be with you.”
27 Then, to Thomas, Jesus said, “Take your finger and examine my hands. Put your hand into my side. Don’t persist in your unbelief,
but believe!”
28 Thomas said in response, “My Savior and my God!”
29 Jesus then said,
“You’ve become a believer
because you saw me.
Blessed are those who have not seen
and yet have believed.”
30 Jesus performed many other signs as well—signs not recorded here—in the presence of the disciples. 31 But these have been recorded to help you believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Only Begotten, so that by believing you may have life in Jesus’ Name.

Friends, I keep reading this passage over and over, and it keeps speaking to me in new ways. Is this happening for you too? I’m going to take this as a sign to sit with this text this week in my prayer life. Our scripture says that there were many more unrecorded signs of Jesus at work in the world, signs showed to the Disciples- of which we all are! So, today let us be on the lookout for the work God is doing, the signs that God is sending us, and may they continue to provide strength to our faith and witness in Christ Jesus and this beloved community.

Shalom Yall,

Rev. Stephanie

Simple Prayer: O Lord, help me see your signs. Amen.