Accessible to the Faith-Impaired?

I’m back from Homipalooza 2008 and my head is still hurting.  Not because it was such a wild party (it wasn’t), but because of all the big ideas my colleagues and I shared and all the heady discussions we had.  For example: it was my job to look ahead to Easter 2009 and talk about how we might plan our preaching for that season.  I began by saying that while the resurrection of Jesus is the cornerstone of Christian theology it is also one of those things some people have a hard time believing, people like Doubting Thomas, for instance, who swore that until he put his finger in the holes in Jesus’ hands and his hand in his side he would not believe.  In every church I’ve served there have been at least a few like Thomas who confessed that an Easter faith was hard for them.  They have studied enough science to know that dead bodies don’t (usually) come back to life.  They have a hard time quieting the many questions that keep them from believing. 

My colleagues at Homipalooza agreed that the same was true for them.  There were people like that in all their churches.  As good pastors and not only good preachers they wondered how to proclaim the good news of Easter without running roughshod over the honest intellectual struggle of those “doubters.” 

I found something in my files that spoke to that concern, and without asking you to read the whole thing let me share the closing paragraph of a sermon delivered three years ago at the First Baptist Church of Washington, DC.  It was about Doubting Thomas, who eventually looked on the risen Christ and believed, and about all those doubters who are still waiting for such a moment.  It was called “Easy for You; Hard for Me”:

We’ve worked pretty hard in the last few years to make sure that our building is accessible.  We put in a wheelchair lift over here, automatic doors on the front and back of the building.  We want to be sure that when a disabled person comes to our church it will be easy for him to get into our building and find a place in our pews.  You can see that symbol on some of our doors, the one with the little wheelchair on it, that proudly proclaims: “this church is accessible!”  I wish there were some way to put another symbol on the door, some small icon or image of Thomas, maybe, that would tell the world “This church is accessible to those who have some doubts.”  Because you never know when Jesus is going to show up.  You never know when someone who has been struggling with doubt might look on His face and say, as Thomas did, 

“My Lord and my God!”