21 December 2012

Festival of St. Thomas, the Apostle

Today our Synod (together with Lutherans worldwide and Western Rite Orthodox and Anglicans) commemorates St. Thomas, the Twin, the disciple who doubted, and whose doubt was healed by Christ a week after the original Easter. The whole story is told in the wonderful hymn: "O Sons and Daughters of the King!"

When Thomas first the tidings heard
That they had seen the risen Lord,
He doubted the disciples' word. Alleluia.

"My pierced side, O Thomas, see,
And look upon My hands, My feet;
Not faithless but believing be." Alleluia!

No longer Thomas then denied;
He saw the feet, the hands, the side;
"You are my Lord and God!" he cried. Alleluia!

How blest are they who have not seen
And yet whose faith has constant been,
For they eternal life shall win. Alleluia! (LSB 471:5-8)

The collect rejoices that God strengthened Thomas with firm and certain faith in the resurrection, and asks that we may be given such faith also and so never be found wanting in God's sight. St. Thomas' Day, falling so close to Christmas as it always does, reminds us that in the days to come we must press beyond what we see to what God reveals about what we see. We see a Child, lying in the manger, nursing at his mother's breast. But faith, which is the certainty of what is not seen, assures us that this Child is indeed "my Lord and my God" - the One through whom all things were made and without whom nothing was made that has been made; that this Child is the Life and Light of men that shines into the darkness; that in Him we meet and embrace a Forgiveness greater than all our sin and a Life stronger than all our death.

And St. Thomas and the Nativity tie together in another way. For at the consecration when He comes to us again in the Body born of Mary and the Blood poured out on the tree - the very Body Thomas touched - it is an ancient and salutary practice to confess with St. Thomas at the elevation: "My Lord and my God."

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