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Yahoo

John 20:19-31

The Rev. Jon Roberts

27 April

2014

Calvary Episcopal Church

Indian Rocks Beach, FL

19 On the evening of that first day of the week, when the disciples were together, with the doors locked for fear of the Jewish leaders, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” 20 After he said this, he showed them his hands and side. The disciples were overjoyed when they saw the Lord. 21 Again Jesus said, “Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.” 22 And with that he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit. 23 If you forgive anyone’s sins, their sins are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.” 24 Now Thomas (also known as Didymus), one of the Twelve, was not with the disciples when Jesus came. 25 So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord!” But he said to them, “Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe.” 26 A week later his disciples were in the house again, and Thomas was with them. Though the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” 27 Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.” 28 Thomas said to him, “My Lord and my God!” 29 Then Jesus told him, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” 30 Jesus performed many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not recorded in this book. 31 But these are written that you may believe[b] that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.

Doubting Thomas by Matia Preti, 1613-1699

Maybe we should be one not two,
Maybe more love can then ensue.
When they witness what we can do,
All the Village will shout that’s new!
All the Village will shout “who knew?”
All the Village will shout “Yahoo!”[1]

Being stranded, cast out on a deserted island is typically what one may think of when the word “Marooned” comes to mind. There are few characteristics of the one who is stranded, who is marooned. At first, they feel very much alone. They are confused and exhausted; overwhelmed and disoriented; hungry and thirsty; fearful, grief-stricken and full of doubt. They hope for nothing short than a miraculous rescue. Interesting enough, they may feel the same way, even if they are stranded on an island with several other people; a “Village” if you will. Whether it is the individual or the village, being cast into unchartered waters, to a deserted island can feel like a desolate and lonely place. Sometimes you hear a rescue story and it seems unbelievable.

One such story came to the news recently this past January that has been met with a lot of doubt. The story ran in several syndicated and local press about a fisherman who was lost at sea. This man was finally found, washed ashore in his 23’ fiberglass boat in the Marshall Islands, north of New Zealand. Being lost at sea is not very uncommon and we don’t doubt that someone can survive. The problem we have with this story is that 37-year-old Jose Salvador Alvarenga was fishing in Mexico in that same boat when reported missing, December of 2012. That’s right. He was stranded at sea for thirteen months, drifting for 6500 miles! Unbelievable. Investigators came in and asked him all sorts of questions to check his story, to see if it could be true. How can anyone survive at sea for so long? Nine months, with a group of capsized sailors, with rations was the longest record prior, but thirteen? He said he trapped water when it rained and collected salt from the desiccated sea water. He would catch small fish with his hands that swam aside the boat and eat them raw. The same with small turtles and any bird that came close. The investigators had more questions than answers. Specialists from several universities were asked if a boat could actually be taken adrift in the current from Mexico to the Marshall Islands. One said it was possible but unlikely it could happen in thirteen months; more like twenty; but it was possible.
He is a simple fisherman; No higher education; No family. He was shark fishing one night in December, over a year ago, with another fisherman, a teenager, named Ezekiel. A storm came along and sent them adrift out into the sea. Jose reports, sadly, that after a month, Ezekiel died. It was from this death that Jose vowed to live. He would deliver the news to this boy’s parents one day of his death. He felt he owed that to them because of how much he loved him. A year at sea is a long time to think about that message. That is where the story ended, but that is where I would have liked to have heard more. What did he say to that boy’s parents? Public interest however is more interested in validating the story and removing doubt. They need to see before they can believe. What do you think it was like for Jose when he was saved, when he fulfilled his promise? What do you think he said? Yahoo!

We know of another story about those who were stranded in a deserted and desolate place. It’s a story we’ve been told time and time again in the Church. In the middle of the boat, full of doubt and worry is the character named Thomas. He and the remaining disciples are stranded in an upper room. They are going through the same feelings as those who are marooned on an island or stranded at sea. At first, they feel very much alone. They are confused and exhausted, overwhelmed and disoriented, hungry and thirsty, fearful, grief-stricken and full of doubt. They hope for nothing short than a miraculous rescue.
Thomas and the disciples witnessed the death of Jesus and now all who followed this rabbi were being hunted down. They would surely be swept up and suffer the same death. They were without sight of Jesus for three days, and then he appeared. Jesus, out of nowhere, through locked doors, was in the midst of them in that dark room, but Thomas was not there. Maybe he was collecting some provisions and when the disciples told him, he didn’t believe. He thought they were hallucinating. The fear had gotten to them, he thought. And then Jesus appeared a second time for Thomas to put his finger in the holes in his wrists, in his side where he was pierced. Yahoo!

Jesus raised a village of disciples, knowing they would be cast out to sea, placed on distant shores to share this story of salvation with the world. He knew they were in for a journey, not to see him again for several years. Blessed are those who see, but more blessed are they that do not see and believe. If you wonder if God will save you; if Jesus will come into your private moment, you do not have to look very far. Turn to the Village, the place where all believers are called to relive the story, to sing, to pray and to glorify the one who saves us all. In this place we touch his hands, his feet and his side, with the body and blood of Christ. Never feel that you have to travel this wide expansive ocean alone.

Maybe we should be one not two,
Maybe more love can then ensue.
When they witness what we can do,
All the Village will shout that’s new!
All the Village will shout “who knew?”
All the Village will shout “Yahoo!”

[1] The Rev. Jon Roberts
[2] Santa Fe News. “Sea survivor says he ate birds, turtles; story met with some doubt.” February 3rd, 2014.
[3] John 20:19-31

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