Proverbs 8:1-4, 22-31; Psalm 8; Romans 5:1-5; John 16:12-15
Isaiah 6:1-8 (Psalm 29); Romans 8:12-17; John 3:1-17
Genesis 1:1-2:4a; Psalm 8; 2 Corinthians 13:11-13; Matthew 28:16-20
Rephibia is the kind of pet store that most other stores don’t want around. It doesn’t carry cats or dogs or anything else that is cute and cuddly. All its animals are cold-blooded, and some are quite large. The first thing you see as you walk in the door is a massive python almost 18 feet long. But there are also monitor lizards that are bigger than most dogs, frogs the size of dinner plates (they look strangely like Jabba the Hutt), and even an alligator snapping turtle that is so big you think it might be older than you are.
When they saw him, they worshiped him, but some doubted. Passages like this assure me there’s a place for me and the people I serve. Unlike John’s story of Thomas, Matthew didn’t single out one disciple as the doubter. He says that “some doubted.”
Paul’s daunting promise to the Romans haunts me: “Suffering produces endurance,” he assures the Romans and us, “and endurance produces character and character produces hope.” Recently I stood in the pulpit of my church and looked over the top of a white, 32-inch-long casket at a young couple from my congregation. Their six-month-old son, who had been happy and healthy just days before, had died in his sleep. The unfathomable suffering of the family was shadowed by a church filled with mourners for whom the scene enacted their most dreaded fears.