Palimpsest 4-7-13

John 20:19-31

Put your hand, Thomas,
on the crawling head of a child imprisoned
in a cot
in Romania.
Place your finger, Thomas,
on the list of those who have disappeared in Chile.
Stroke the cheek, Thomas,
of the little girl sold in prostitution in Thailand.
Touch, Thomas, the gaping wounds of my world.
Feel, Thomas,
the primal wound of my people.
Reach out your hands,
and place them at the side of the poor.
Grasp my hands, Thomas, and believe.
– Kate Mcllhagga, from Eggs and Ashes, Wild Goose Publications

Why do we say creeds? Unlike some churches that require affirmation of a strict list of beliefs as a condition of membership, The United Methodist Church is not a creedal church.
So why do we recite creeds during worship?
The United Methodist Hymnal contains nine creeds or affirmations. Only two of these (Nicene and Apostles') are strictly considered to be creeds because they are products of ecumenical councils.
The remaining affirmations are taken from Paul’s letters (Corinthians, Colossians, Romans and Timothy) along with affirmations from the United Church of Canada, the Korean Methodist Church and the United Methodist Social Affirmation.
United Methodists are not required to believe every word of the affirmations. Church founder, John Wesley himself did not agree with a historic (Athanasian) creed, because he disliked its emphasis on condemning people to hell.
Affirmations help us come to our own understanding of the Christian faith. They affirm our unity in Christ with those followers who first wrote them, the many generations who have recited them before us and those who will recite them after we have gone. – Rev. J. Richard Peck, 
Why do we say creeds?

But the fact that we have no simple answer does not mean that we can evade the questions. We have also seen the hazards–even terrible harm–that sometimes result from unquestioning acceptance of religious authority. Most of us, sooner or later, find that, at critical points in our lives, we must strike out on our own to make a path where none exists. What I have come to love in the wealth and diversity of our religious traditions–and the communities that sustain them–is that they offer the testimony of innumerable people to spiritual discovery. Thus they encourage those who endeavor, in Jesus’ words, to “seek and you shall find.” – Elaine Pagels, Beyond Belief: The Secret Gospel of Thomas

  • How do you feel about Thomas’ request for verification of the resurrection? Was he wrong? Why or why not? What would you have done?
  • Do you ask a lot of questions about the Bible and theological ideas? Do you feel supported in asking questions? How do you find answers?
  • Is Thomas a role model or a warning?

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