|Pen and Ink Reflections||
‘Who do you say that I am?’ Jesus’ question to the disciples is one for all of us, isn’t it? Indeed, if you are like me, it is a question you will answer in different ways at different times. Sometimes that may feel like a growing and deepening sense of who Jesus Christ is. At other times it may feel like a peeling away, and even a painful deconstruction, of old or unsatisfying patterns of understanding. Either way, my own sense is that if we are not continually being transformed by a transfiguring understanding of God in Jesus Christ then we have largely missed the point of the journey of faith. That was Peter’s mistake, wasn’t it? Today we only hear about his great confession of Christ and of gifts Jesus bequeathes to him. This passage is immediately followed however by Jesus’ powerful rejection of Peter’s failure to understand him and his calling. ‘Get behind me Satan!’, Jesus cries out. For the Christ Peter had seen, and wonderfully declared, was not the full picture he needed to see. So it is in our own lives, in the church and world today…
"Unless I see the holes that the nails made in his hands…and put my hand in his side; I refuse to believe.” Thomas was after certainty wasn’t he?
Often we speak of ‘doubting’ Thomas. Yet the Thomas we encounter here is not so much doubting as demanding proof. There is an aggressiveness in his demand for sure proof that is disturbing, and is matched by the fervour of his response once proof is provided. ‘My Lord and my God’ he proclaims: the loftiest acclamation of Christ anywhere in the New Testament.
In terms of personality it would be more accurate to characterise Thomas as a fundamentalist than a doubter. For him things are very clear with no grey areas. Such clarity produces great zeal and a capacity for courageous and devoted service. It is also potentially very dangerous.
Today across our world we see an increase in fundamentalism. This is true alike of all the mainstream religions and also of liberal securalism. It is a human phenomenon of our times, arising at least in part in response to the uncertainties of the post modern era, with the rapid pace of change brought about by the technological revolution. Fearful of the attack on familiar elements of culture and the perceived rubbishing of important values many people are attracted by the simplicity and apparent clarity of a fundamentalist approach. We can recognise it in ourselves; and we can see it just as clearly in those who would outlaw all religion as having evil consequences as in those who see themselves engaged in ‘Holy War’...
by Jon Inkpin, for Forest Sunday in the 'Season of Creation' 7 September 2014
What comes to your mind and heart when you hear the word forest or tree? What forest or trees do you recall? With which forest or tree do you most identify? Probably all us have a particular forest or tree which comes to mind: a special forest or tree which has, or has had, importance to us, perhaps going back to our childhood. Perhaps it is a single tree, in, or on, or beneath which we have played, or met a lover, or found refreshment. Perhaps it is a rainforest, or a stand of eucalypts in which we have spent some time. Perhaps it is a forest or a tree we have encountered in another place or time, on a holiday or a journey. Whatever it is, it will have shaped our life and awareness in some way...