Daring to Doubt (St Thomas: 3 July)
To explore how doubt can lead to faith, using the example of Thomas
by The Revd Catherine Williams
Suitable for Whole School (Pri)
To explore how doubt can lead to faith, using the example of St Thomas, whose feast day is 3 July.
Preparation and materials
- You will need a tiny version of something very large - preferably from the Indian sub-continent (e.g. tiger, monkey, elephant, temple, Taj Mahal, Mount Everest, etc.). You could use a plastic toy animal such as those sold by the Early Learning Centre.
- Tell the children you are holding something in your hand that comes from India. Ask them to guess what it might be. When the guesses are exhausted, ask some of the children to come up one by one and see what you are holding. Carefully show the object to each child without showing anyone else. Get them to say what it is and see if the rest of the children believe the answer. You can play along with this for a while pantomime style: Oh yes, it is, Oh no it isn't, etc.
Eventually show everyone the object, and say that unless we see things for ourselves, sometimes it's very hard to believe what we're told.
- Ask the children to put their hand up if they are called Tom or Thomas. Explain that 3 July is the day we remember St Thomas. Tell the story of Thomas (John 20.24-29) along these lines.
St Thomas was one of Jesus' friends, who found it very hard to believe that Jesus had risen from the dead. Even when the other disciples said they had seen the risen Jesus, Thomas didn't believe them. Sometimes when people don't believe things today we call them a 'doubting Thomas'.
Continue by saying that soon Thomas met the risen Jesus for himself. When he saw Jesus, he said: 'My Lord and my God.' Thomas was one of the first disciples to recognize Jesus as the Son of God. Even though he started out by doubting, he ended up with a very strong faith. It's said that he travelled hundreds of miles telling people all about Jesus.
- Show the map of India. Ask if anyone has been to India, or comes from India. Tell the children that Thomas is said to have taken Christianity all the way to South India. The Church in India is called the Mar Thoma church - the church of Thomas. In a place called Madras (Chennai) there's a special hill called St Thomas's Mount, with a church dedicated to Thomas. Even though he doubted, Thomas was able to change his mind, to believe in Jesus, and then go and tell everyone about him.
Time for reflection
Thank you that you're always there beside us,
even when we're not sure what to believe.
Thank you that it is all right to have doubts and questions - you don't mind.
Help us to trust in you more and more,
and like Thomas to keep growing in faith.
'One more step' (Come and Praise, 47)