A wonderful celebration on
A Very Special Day !
The Paisley Churches in the North End of Paisley organised a very successful Good Friday Walk, on Friday, April 18. The journey started off from Springbank Road Sheltered Housing at 11am and stopped off at a further six venues, within the Parish:
Mossvale Community Church, Greenock Road
St James’ RC Church, Greenock Road
BP Filling Station, Greenock Road
The Fountain Gardens, Caledonia Street/Love Street
The Court Buildings, St James’ Street
St James’ Church, Underwood Road
At the end of a memorable day, St James’ Church provided hospitality, which was very much appreciated.
An Easter Message By Rev Peter Gill
Sermon:Today I would like to talk in defence of "Doubting Thomas." If you look up this phrase in the dictionary, you'll find something like: "one who habitually doubts or questions." A "doubting Thomas" always needs more proof, more time. A "doubting Thomas" has a hard time trusting others. Just imagine if our name went down in history attached to "doubting"? Or had a negative connotation? How would you feel? So I'd like to suggest a new phrase for this disciple, not "doubting Thomas," but "honest Thomas." It almost rhymes! But, more importantly, it accurately portrays the character of the one who was willing to be honest even when it wasn't pretty, and even when others were not quite so truthful. I think we need to be more like Thomas, not by doubting more, but by being more honest with God and with each other.
For the disciples of Jesus, his death wasn't merely a horrific execution of a dear friend. But it was the end of their vision, plan and the passion in which they had invested 3 years of their lives. But then, on Easter morning, the tomb where Jesus had been buried was empty, and that they had even seen him alive. "Nonsense," Thomas must have figured it. "Nothing but Wishful thinking!" Yet that evening, while Thomas was away from the group, Jesus appeared to the other disciples. When he returned, they excitedly reported to him: "We've seen the Lord." But Thomas didn't share their joy or confidence. He said to his fellow disciples, "I won't believe it unless I put my fingers into them, and place my hand into the wound in his side." Would you blame him? Remember, his Discouragement, Defeat. Devastation! Thomas wasn't going to fall into that trap all over again. No way! Can you relate to Thomas at all? You trusted God. You tried to live as a good Christian, to do the right things, when all of a sudden your life fell apart: your marriage disintegrated, or you got cancer in your family, or you lost your job, or your teenager got involved with the wrong crowd. No matter how you try to rationalize what happened, the truth is that you have felt let down by God. And no matter how much others try to encourage you, you are just not sure you're ready to trust him again. To be honest, if I had been in Thomas's shoes, I'm not sure, if I would have been able to accept the testimony of the other disciples. You see, some people are sceptical. Some think a lot, maybe too much. Some don't find it easy to put their faith in anything. So putting ourselves in Thomas's place and suppose that the disciples had too much to drink, or that they'd seen some sort of ghost, or that their grief had overwhelmed their reason? Whether Thomas should have believed or not, at any rate he was bluntly honest about where he was. He didn't pretend. Thomas was more honest than some of the other disciples. As far as we know, none of them admitted to having any doubts about Jesus at this time. They were happy to go along for the Resurrection ride. But if you turn over to Matthew 28:16 you read something quite surprising. "Then the eleven disciples left for Galilee, they saw him, they worshipped him - but some of them still doubted!" Did you catch that? "But some of them still doubted." As far as we know, these disciples had been willing to play along as if they truly believed, but in fact their doubts continued. They pretended to have faith when all along they weren't quite sure. If you're struggling with doubt today, don't pretend. And don't judge yourself. Doubt is a natural part of the faith journey of many, many Christians. If you're struggling with doubt, you can be an "honest Thomas" by sharing it with God and with other Christians whom you can trust. Get them to pray with you, support you, and walk with you through the dark valley of doubt. Let's take another look at John 20 to see how Jesus responds to Thomas. It says, "Eight days later the disciples were together again, and this time Thomas was with them." For eight days Thomas was left in his doubt. For eight days he stood around watching the celebration of his colleagues while he was stuck in his doubt. The fact is that Jesus chose to let Thomas wait. There will be times when you're struggling with faith and doubt, and God will make you wait. It won't seem fair at the time. In fact, it might seem mean. But God knows what he's doing.
The Psalmists often speak honestly of how for days they cried out to God for help. And for days God was silent. They would feel desperate, terrified, and empty. And God would have seemed to have abandoned them during that time, of their need. I don't know what God was doing with Thomas during his eight days of waiting, but sometimes during our times of doubt, God can break our pride and set us free from our self-reliance. He will show us the limits of our reason. He will teach us that we can’t do things alone in our own strength. When, after eight days, Jesus finally appeared to the disciples in Thomas's presence, he addressed the "doubter" directly: "Put your finger here and see my hands. Put your hand into the wound in my side. Do you know what's missing here? The rebuke! The guilt! The lecture on not doubting! Rather, Jesus gently and mercifully offers Thomas exactly what he had wanted. Jesus met Thomas right where he was. In his time and in his way, Jesus comes to us and makes himself known to us. Sometimes he does it in the way we want. Sometimes he doesn't. But he always gives us exactly what we really need. Many of us struggle with doubt we can fall into a pit of despair and not know how to climb out. We can use books, logic, and evidence that demand a verdict. We can be stuck in unbelief, helpless before God. We may cry out to God, again and again and again. We may have sleepless nights and eventually pour our hearts to God, and often when we do, we may feel a calming presence surrounding and embracing us. The desperate doubts may drain out of your tormented souls, replaced by the deepest peace you’ve ever known. Your tears of sorrow may become tears of joy. Now I want you to notice something absolutely crucial here. Thomas said, "My Lord and my God!" This makes him the first person in the gospels, perhaps even the first person in all of history, to confess Jesus not only as Lord, but also as God. Doubting Thomas was transformed into bold Thomas, believing Thomas. This is not pretend faith. This is not the sort of Christianity we wear as a costume to impress others. It's a 100% genuine faith. It's a faith that transforms our lives. Notice how Jesus finishes his encounter with Thomas: "You believe because you have seen me. Blessed are those who haven't seen me and believe anyway." This is a word of encouragement for you and me, because we don't get to see Jesus. One day we'll see him face to face. But that day is still a long way off, for most of us. In the meanwhile, you and I are those who have to believe without seeing.
I wonder if some of you here this morning who came not fully believing in Jesus. But maybe during this service you've sensed the presence and heard his invitation to believe if this describes your experience, then I would invite you to say "yes" to Jesus today. Put your trust in Him who died for you, bearing your sin, and who was raised from the dead three days later so that you might have the fullness of life forever. Let me encourage you be honest like Thomas. Be real. Don't pretend. Tell God exactly where you are and ask for his help through Alpha course Or Christianity explore, talk with one of our elders or myself. No matter where we are in our relationship with Jesus today, the good news is that he meets us in that place. In his time and his own way. He gave his life for you so that you might be forgiven, now He seeks a genuine, honest relationship with you. If the Lord has spoken to you and you are convinced of the need to draw closer to Him, and deal with those issues. Let Jesus take your doubts and turn them into genuine faith and then He can turn your faith into loving actions. As we know action speaks louder than words. Let’s have a few moments of silent reflection.