I think I finally got it! At least for now. I'll need to be reminded again tomorrow. Strange it is that I must be reminded everyday of the things I confess to be true. However, this fits exactly with what I finally realized today.
I couldn't shake the feeling of guilt this morning. Pretty typical - that's why I absolutely must come to church; to hear that my sins are forgiven despite what I feel. As I listened to the Gospel reading I found myself gazing at my mirror image in Thomas' refusal to believe the Gospel. And then it finally clicked!
Why of course! I am exactly like Thomas. In spite of the fact that I know that I'm forgiven, despite Christ's word declaring me righteous, despite my pastors faithfully proclaiming this forgiveness to me over and over and over again I continue to doubt that I am actually forgiven. I confess that this is my most aggregious sin - doubt - most terrible because it deprives me of the assurance of forgiveness.
Thomas also could not bring himself to believe the Gospel spoken by the Apostles, even through their fervent urgings that Christ had really risen. So what did Jesus do? Did he forsake Thomas? Did he cast him out because of his doubt? Did he even take from Thomas his place as an Apostle? No! Instead Jesus gave Thomas an assurance of His resurrection - and consequently and assurance of Thomas' forgiveness.
Jesus said, "Blessed are those who have not seen and yet believe!" And most blessed they are indeed! But for those of us, me and Thomas, who struggle against doubt, Christ gives a most gracious gift...
He invited Thomas to touch His Body. To put his finger into the wound from whence flowed the water and the Blood. The body from which He 'gave up His Spirit' for the enlivening of the world.
Christ does the same for poor, doubting Truthquestioner: He invites me not only to touch His Body, but to eat it. He pours into my mouth the stream which flowed from his pierced side. He says to me, "This is my Body given for you. This is my Blood shed for you for the forgiveness of sin. Doubt no longer but believe!"
Here is the assurance for the doubter. Here is grace outpoured - pity at it's highest. Mercy in a God who still humbles Himself that I might be certain that my sins are forgiven.
Thanks be to God!