They are working in cross-cultural spaces and with a whole host of challenges and opportunities, including discrimination and political uncertainty. The courage and capacity they demonstrate in their lives and in their ministries demonstrates the possibility that can be found when religious life is framed by a mindset of abundance, rather than being limited by scarcity thinking.
I was struck by the way in which the Gospel of John, in Sunday’s lectionary reading, addresses the complexity of faith, and I wonder what this affirmation might mean for religious leaders who seek to move out of the grip of scarcity and into a practice of abundance in their ministry. In last week’s reading, Jesus appears to the gathered disciples after the resurrection. They are in hiding, and Thomas is not with them.
But Thomas (who was called the Twin), one of the twelve, was not with them when Jesus came. So the other disciples told him, ‘We have seen the Lord.’ But he said to them, ‘Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands, and put my finger in the mark of the nails and my hand in his side, I will not believe.’
A week later his disciples were again in the house, and Thomas was with them. Although the doors were shut, Jesus came and stood among them and said, ‘Peace be with you.’ Then he said to Thomas, ‘Put your finger here and see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it in my side. Do not doubt but believe.’ Thomas answered him, ‘My Lord and my God!’ Jesus said to him, ‘Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe.’ (John 20: 24-29 NRSV)
Thomas is known for his doubt; however, I find this story to say so much more about the faith lived out by the many people who would have good reason for skepticism and distrust, and yet proceed with confidence and hope. For Christians, one gift of Easter is in remembering that we are meant to be surprised, startled, disoriented by the in-breaking activity of God in the world.