You may listen to Father Mullen's sermon here.
A long time ago back in Palestine land,
was the death of a man on a Cross.
And they buried the chap in the dirt and the sand,
‘neath a stone that was covered in moss.
The disciples dismayed; they were scared to their wits,
and they hid behind doors out of fear.
There they huddled together like a gaggle of twits,
not suspecting their Savior was near.
There was one of them who you’ll remember by name,
“Doubting Thomas” he’s called by us all.
He’s been branded for ever with that odd kind of fame,
That reminds us his faith was too small.
For he was not there at that magical hour
when although all the doors, they were locked,
Jesus rose from the grave, and to show them his power,
came to visit, which left them all shocked.
“Peace be with you,” he said, and he breathed on them then,
thereby sharing the great Holy Ghost.
“Give the gift of forgiveness to women and men”
said their Savior, their Lord, and their Host.
How they murmured and wondered, how their sleep was disturbed,
They were ten, minus Judas and Tom.
And their thoughts were confused, and their whole lives perturbed;
this new peace had not brought them much calm.
The would meet all together, they would talk and they’d pray,
hid away in a dark, secret room,
they went over and over details of that day,
which had ended in tears at the tomb.
And they marveled together, they wondered in awe,
how he’d risen from death, as he’d said,
and almost they couldn’t believe what they saw,
for they truly had thought he was dead.
Eventually Tom was together with them,
and the news was just too good to keep:
that God, in his wisdom, had not condemned
to death the Great Shepherd of sheep:
“We have seen the Lord Jesus!” his friends told him that day,
though to Tom this was hard to believe.
“It can’t be,” said the man in his own doubting way,
prepared only and ever to grieve.
“Let me see the deep prints where they drove the nails in,
let me thrust my own hand in his side.
Don’t you know that I loved him as though he were kin,
don’t you know that for three days I cried
out of sadness for all that we seem to have lost,
out of fear that it never was true,
out of horror to know that his life was the cost
of the lessons he taught me and you.”
“Get a grip,” said his friends, Peter and Paul,
“Get a grip,” said James and said John.
“Don’t you know that he’s come to appear to us all?
Wait and see, for he’ll be here anon.”
It was not long thereafter, when they gathered, those ten,
That the Lord came to be with his friends.
And Thomas was there, to make eleven of them,
and so this was his chance for amends.
“Peace be with you,” said Jesus as he entered inside
by the door that he never unlatched.
“Stretch out your hand, feel my hands and my side,
you’ll see that the wounds are un-patched.”
Then famously Thomas did fall to his knees,
with a gasp, and a shout to exclaim,
“My Lord and my God! Great Jehovah! Big Cheese!”
or something a tad less profane.
“Doubting Thomas,” said Jesus, “you’ve seen and believe,
let me say, I don’t want to be mean,
but blest is he who the truth can perceive
though my hands and my side have not seen.”
When we hear this old story the way it’s been told,
and the words that to Thomas were said,
the lesson, we think, is to hear Jesus scold
him for failing to get through his head
the good news that his Lord and his Master had ris’n
from the grave, ‘neath the dust and the stone;
that Death, though he tried, could not fashion a prison
that would keep Christ from claiming his throne.
But perhaps there’s a lesson that’s still yet more pressing
in this story for Christians to glean.
Perhaps it’s the message of Jesus’s blessing
for believers who never have seen
the prints of the nails, or the wound in his side:
the evidence of our Lord’s death.
As though proof was the best thing that he could provide,
and not the Spirit he gave with his breath.
But that Spirit has carried the message of love
to all the four corners of earth:
from Jerusalem, winging its way like a dove,
as far as both Philly and Perth…
I can tell you, I’ve seen with my very own eyes
the power of our risen Lord.
How it lifts human hearts as high as the skies,
how it vanquishes even the sword.
It’s a power that’s given from way up on high,
it’s a force that can’t be disguised;
and it signals that Jesus, the Master, is nigh,
and it’s given to all the baptized.
Which is why we bring children, with fathers and moms,
with godparents, uncles, and aunts,
after reading the lessons and singing the psalms
to the water that’s poured into fonts,
where the Spirit, who to those first ten men was given,
is shared with our own children here:
a sign and a symbol that all is forgiven,
and a promise to chase away fear
of everything evil that makes our faith falter,
with grace and with power divine,
that same grace that leads us all to the altar
to share holy Bread, holy Wine.
And when in our faith we have been through the waters
of Baptism, and of new life,
we give thanks for the gift to our sons and our daughters
that promises fin’ly the strife
is o’er, the great battle won, and the Lord,
in his glory has rose
from the dead for all people, the great human horde:
we are all of us, those he has chose.
And sometimes it may be that you start to think
that your faith is too tiny, too small.
And you’ll fear that your heart is beginning to shrink,
and you’ll doubt that God loves you at all.
You’ll think back on Thomas, and remember the scolding;
in the midst of your doubt you might dare
to fall on your knees, and right there start folding
your fingers together in prayer.
And the answer you’ll hear to your prayer that hour
won’t be one that is mean or unkind,
“Blest are you, my dear child,” says the voice full of pow’r,
“Blest in heart, and in soul, and in mind.
“Oh I know that you think that your faith is minute,
Oh I know you think it’s not enough;
But even small faith can bear you much fruit,
and I’d say you’ve got the right stuff.”
The lesson today is of blessing, not curses,
and if I had bells I would chime it;
but since all I have is these words and these verses,
the best I could do was to rhyme it.
So when you feel low, you’ve got nothing but doubt
and you’re certain that you have been messing
life up, and you think that you just want to pout,
then remember this little blessing:
Blest are you, my belovéd, my child, my friend,
blest are you, my dear jelly bean,
for you have had faith, and on God you depend,
even though with your eyes you’ve not seen.
Preached by Fr. Sean Mullen
15 April, 2012
Saint Mark’s Church
On the occasion of the baptism of
Charles Frederick Reinhardt, Jr.