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Daily Devotional • December 21

Elizabeth Baumann
Colorful Thomas
A Reading from the Gospel of John 14:1-7

1 “Do not let your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. 2 In my Father’s house there are many dwelling places. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? 3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, so that where I am, there you may be also. 4 And you know the way to the place where I am going.” 5 Thomas said to him, “Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?” 6 Jesus said to him, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. 7 If you know me, you will know my Father also. From now on you do know him and have seen him.”

There are two iconic St. Thomas lessons: the one we have here this morning, and the one we always read the Sunday after Easter, from which we get “doubting” St. Thomas. But I wish there were a third one we remembered as readily. When Jesus wants to return to Judea when Lazarus dies, and they’ve just left because Jesus’ life was threatened, St. Thomas is the one who pipes up and says, “Then let us go die with him!” He gets put into this box of being either overly literal — although I’m right there with him as he asks, “How will we know the way?” — or “doubting.”  

But he has another side, a side of exuberant spiritual imagination that allows him to envision what it is to follow Jesus even to death before the other disciples (ahem — St. Peter) quite get there, the side that allows him to jump instantly from doubt to bright faith: “My Lord and my God!” It makes me smile to think that he afterward took the gospel to India — surely one of the most colorful places on earth.

St. Thomas is also transparent in a really appealing way. It took deep intellectual integrity and humility to be the only disciple in the community not to have seen the risen Lord and maintain his honesty about what he needed in order to believe. Maybe calling it doubt is accurate, but we often say that as if to pooh-pooh St. Thomas, without noticing that Jesus gave him the exact thing he said he needed. 

If St. Thomas himself were to join us today over curry, I think he’d tell us to stop worrying about our intellectual limits or our doubts, and just be honest with Jesus, because he will meet us where we are.

Elizabeth Baumann is a seminary graduate, a priest’s wife, and the mother of two small daughters. A transplant from the West Coast, she now lives in “the middle of nowhere” in the Midwest with too many cats.

Daily Devotional Cycle of Prayer

Today we pray for:

St. Peter’s Church, Lithgow, Millbrook, New York
The Diocese of Okigwe – The Church of Nigeria
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