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05.02.2014
As for me, even though my name is one that is popularly shortened or modified, I’ve never liked being called anything other than Elizabeth. But, beyond the names we are all given at birth, we are also given descriptive names  that often say a lot about who we are too. Then, there are those names which speak to our less than stellar moments which stick to us like post-its that we can never seem to find a way to get off our backs, no matter how hard we try. In our gospel lesson for this morning, we are met by a disciple of Christ who also has a name lurking around him, although he is never called this by Jesus or anyone else in the text.
We remember Thomas by this famous scene in John’s gospel of Thomas refusing to believe that Jesus was risen until he saw and put his finger the marks of the nails in his hands and in his side. But, I offer you this morning that in calling Thomas the doubter and dismissing his significance from the gospel means we are really missing an opportunity to get to know this faith hero and a confession of faith that we as resurrection people can model our church after.
Mary Magdalene knocks on their door sometime that afternoon and to tell them what seems like a ridiculous story. Yet the disciples are seemingly unmoved by her testimony and continue to stay locked in their upper room. I stop here to point out that while Thomas asked for proof, to see Jesus’ wounds for himself: he only wanted a viewing of what the other disciples had already seen.
In fact, it is important to note that the disciples had received similar testimony from Mary Magdalene before seeing Jesus for themselves but didn’t believe just like Thomas.
So, if we were playing the blame game, we would need to call out all of the disciples as doubters. As the story continues we realize that a week later all of the disciples (including Thomas) were again the room with the doors shut.
And, I dare say  in this confession that a transformative work took place Thomas: he was a new man, empowered by the fact that his faith came from not merely seeing Jesus, but professing his fully name. And in these five words, Thomas makes the greatest confession of Christ found in all the entire Gospel of John, saying not only that Jesus was Lord, but that he was God incarnate! Thus, in the case of Thomas— how he NAMED Christ in our text for today became not only a catalyst for the message of the John’s Gospel to go forth but his personal sense of mission too.
As people of the resurrection, how is our confession of Jesus as Savior and as Lord– just as Mary modeled before us this morning– going to change our names too?


In a small North Carolina town where I once served as a pastoral intern in seminary, I once overheard a conversation that struck a nerve in me and I’ve never forgotten.
Both had Sunday worship services of sorts- the churches in sanctuaries and the country clubs on the golf courses (singing praises to the best golfers of the day).
He said that naming Jesus as Lord was what we as a church needed to keep claiming and claiming and claiming again for why it was we did everything.
When nursery workers changed diapers, washed little hands and played with play dough  in children’s Sunday School, do so in the name of Jesus being Lord. When volunteers show up to clean the gutters or wash the pews on church work days, do so in the name of Jesus being Lord. When we sing hymns, and pray prayers and give our tithes and our offerings, do so in the name of Jesus being Lord.
When we decided what to make, prepared and set out our covered dishes for church lunches, do so in the name of Jesus being Lord.
And say it with me, whatever we do and wherever go in the future as a community, we do so with the name of Jesus as Lord going first. No wonder expecting parents often time spend hours flipping through those “1001 Names” books, looking for just that right “feel” of a name for their new son or daughter. Even though I hear names of others sometimes that sound pretty or more interesting than my own and even went through a phase in college where I wanted to be addressed as Liz (but it never stuck)—Elizabeth is just who I am, like it or not. Names like “the cry baby”, “the dumb blond” or even “the black sheep of the family” follow us too. On Easter evening, the disciples (minus Judas who has died and Thomas who is for some unknown reason away from them) are locked in a room scared out of their pants, hoping that the religious leaders won’t come to arrest and crucify them like they did to Jesus. In fact, this is the only time any disciple of Christ “gets” him enough to link his identity with God. Thomas received power from the name of Jesus that empowered his own name, his own life and his own purpose for living. How might our association, our dependence on the name of Jesus shape everything we say and do as a community? Finally, the gentleman who was my church member spoke and added that the golf course did sound more fun so he might try it out the next Sunday.


To join for worship each Sunday in the name of Christ, we are given an entirely way of existing in this community which speaks to EVERYTHING that we do. Anyone been called the wrong name lately– even if the person didn’t mean any harm by it? Even though these names come to us sometimes because of one person’s moment of stupidity or insensitivity, such names haunt us in pain and frustration any time we recall them. What is most interesting about this part of our text is the interchange between Jesus and Thomas after proof is offered—notice with me again verse 27.
I began to listen in when the second gentleman loudly offered to the first that he hadn’t been to church in years. So, come Lord Jesus, give us your name, a name new to some of us for the first time, and to others of us a name we’ve forgotten.
And in naming Jesus as God, Thomas gave the church a  statement of faith, saying what it meant to have life in the resurrection power of Jesus’ name.
Through being there, Thomas became one of the key witnesses at this crucial appearance final appearance of Jesus in the book.
Come and teach us how to live in unity with one another as claim together this hour that you are Lord.
The names we give ourselves and we are given by others are important and often change the trajectories of our lives. And he didn’t start condemning the congregation from the pulpit the next week either. Moreover, according to historical tradition, Thomas goes on to proclaim this name of Jesus throughout his life. We keep professing Jesus as Lord, in the footsteps of our dear brother Thomas, believing, trusting that this confession of faith connects us now and forevermore with the resurrection power we need in this world to make a difference. He becomes a Christian missionary in India in fact, risking his life to bring the gospel to those who had never heard.




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