The Tantalizing Tale of Thomas the T — Throwback Thursdays

In many congregations (and certainly the ones I have served) the second Sunday of Easter is observed as “Holy Humor Sunday” or the Festival of Risus Paschalis, the Great Easter “Joke.” For Holy Humor Sunday of 2014, I wrote this bit of verse after the style of the good Theodore Geisel, aka Dr. Seuss. I haven’t come back to it for a while, so it’s fun to share it with you here. Please feel free to use in part or in whole (just attribute it properly).

“Tis the tantalizing tale of Thomas the T,

The disciple of Jesus, who demanded to see

The proof in his palms and the scars on his side —

To quiet his qualms and to pre-empt his pride.

They called him the “T” for he was a twin,

Though we do not know which child was his kin.

Loud and proud was Thomas the T,

And hard to convince as we shall soon see.

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio on Pexels.com

This poem was part-written at home on my couch.

I hope you won’t think me too much of a slouch.

This poem was part-written in church at my desk.

I hope you won’t think me too much of a pest.

I could not have done it without Bishop Wright

Whose study and writing are such a delight!

For our Festival of Fun I hope it’s of use.

And I offer this effort — with honor to the Good Dr. Seuss.

‘Tis the tantalizing tale of Thomas the T,

The disciple of Jesus who demanded to see

The proof in his palms and the scar on his side —

To quiet his qualms and pre-empt his pride.

Thomas was stubborn and strong and severe.

He wanted his facts and he wanted them clear.

But when he was certain of what he had found

He marched with his Master on dangerous ground.

When Laz’rus of Beth’ny lay cold in the tomb

The enemies of Jesus were plotting his doom.

With stones in their hands and blood in their eye.

But Thomas declared, “Let’s go with him to die!”

Now on that first evening the doors were locked tight

Ten desperate disciples, all quaking with fright.

But Thomas the T was not there to be found.

Out checking the wind, perhaps poking around.

Who knows why he missed that initial surprise?

Avoiding the cops and eluding the spies?

And when he got back and heard all of the news,

Certain he was that the ten were, well, confused.

“I was not there!” cried out Thomas the T.

“I did not touch! It cannot be!

Unless I can prove it, you all must agree.

I will not trust what I cannot see!

Unless I can feel the holes in his hands,

I will not believe that he walks and he stands.

Unless I can wiggle my hand in his side,

I will not accept that our friend has not died.”

“All well and good,” the others then said.

“We know that he croaked. We know he was dead.

We know he expired with the last words he said.

We know he was shrouded and laid in a tomb.

And so we escaped to this small upper room.

We locked all the doors just to keep out the cops.

We thought we were safe, when among us HE pops!”

“Calm down. Please don’t panic!”

He says with a smile.

“It’s me,” he then says. “I’ll just stay for a while.

Don’t be so fearful. Don’t run off and hide.

Here, take a look at my hands and my side.”

“It’s boorish to gawk, impolitest to stare.

But we just had to look…there…and there…

And there!

And then we rejoiced, did a handspring or two!

We remembered the words of sweet Mary, so true.

As she stood weeping outside of the tomb,

A gardener appeared to cast off her gloom.

He spoke and she knew by the sound of his Word

That standing before her was Jesus, our Lord!

We thought her quite mad and overly teary,

Her past and her sex made us all a bit leery.

But as we were trembling behind the locked doors,

We knew then and there that we saw our Lord!

We knew right away that dear Mary was sane.

We knew right away there was much to explain.

Thomas the T was much less than impressed.

He knew he was smarter than all of the rest.

“There is another explanation. A ghost! A phantom!

Or just wishful thinking!

Or maybe an eyelash while you were all blinking!

Maybe the figs in that bowl have gone bad.

Or, to tell you the truth, I think you’re all just quite mad.

“I was not there!” cried Thomas the T.

“I did not touch! It cannot be!

Unless I can prove it, you all must agree.

I will not trust what I cannot see!

Unless I can feel the holes in his hands,

I will not believe that he walks and he stands.

Unless I can wiggle my hand in his side,

I will not accept that our friend has not died.”

Just a week later they gathered again.

But this time good Thomas was there with his friends.

The doors were all shut and the windows were bolted.

Then Jesus appeared and their dozing was jolted.

“Calm down. Please don’t panic!” he said once again.

Then he locked eyes with Thomas and flashed him a grin.

“So proof is the price of your trust in my way?

I seem to recall what you labored to say.

Reach out your fingers and poke in my palms,

Stick your hand in my side if you still have some qualms.

Your mind is not open, your heart filled with doubt.

But now I will tell you what this new world is about.”

“You wanted to hear and to touch and to see,

Do that and much more, and please do it for free!

But if you reach out, understand what’s at stake —

This isn’t a quiz or a game or debate.

If I am past the far side of the grave,

Then you must be something much more than just brave.

You must be willing to open your heart

And trust the new world that’s beginning to start.”

“If you must insist that the world is just so,

That you see what you see

And you know what you know,

That nothing new happens here under the sun,

Then you cannot see New Creation’s begun,

You cannot know that Lord Death is undone.

If all that you know is all that can now be,

Then you cannot grow. You can never be free

To explore past the limits of what you can see.

If all that you know is just what you can touch,

Then, honest to God, you’ll never know much.

You’ll never know loving or dreaming or hope.

You’ll live on an island, unable to cope.”

Thomas stood still as a stone for a tick.

At first he felt dizzy, and then he felt sick.

And then he felt more than a bit of a clod.

He shouted with joy, “My Lord and my God!”

Quite a confession for a good, faithful Jew,

A fellow who knows there’s just one God, not two.

But he was confronted with something Quite New.

If Christ is now risen (Christ is risen indeed!)

Then one thing is certain, a thing guaranteed:

The world has now changed and can never go back.

Death is defeated despite the attack.

Sin and the devil have run out of rope.

For the first time in ages, there truly is hope.

And now, for the big finish…

This is a story for you and for me.

We were not there.

We did not see.

We did not feel the holes in his hands.

We did not wiggle our hands in his side.

We may be convinced that poor Jesus just died.

If that is your view, you should go eat some pastry.

Before you take off, though, let’s not be so hasty.

Will we be like Thomas, closed up in our boxes,

Unwilling to think, entertain paradoxes?

Or will we be open to something Quite New,

Something we cannot re-test or review?

If you open up, understand what’s at stake —

This isn’t a quiz or a game or debate.

If Jesus is past the far side of the grave,

Then you also must be so much, much more than brave.

You must be willing to open your heart

And trust the new world that’s beginning to start.

‘Tis the tantalizing tale of Thomas the T,

The disciple of Jesus who demanded to see

The proof in his palms and the scar on his side —

He got what he wanted, his eyes opened wide.

With Thomas we share the great gift of new birth

To a hope that is living for all life on earth.

And out to the stars far beyond all the planets

Creation rejoices despite every trial. And it’s

Time to get on with the work of new living,

To love and to care and to sing with thanksgiving.

Christ is risen!

Christ is risen indeed! Alleluia!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s