What is the first thing a teacher does at the beginning of the school day? I don't know about your teacher, but the very first thing many teachers do each day is to check the roll. The teacher opens the roll book and begins to call out the names... Johnny, Susie, Mary, James. As the student's names are called, they raise their hand and answer, "Here!" If the teacher calls Caleb's name and he is not there, the teacher marks in the roll book that he was absent. Why is it important for the teacher to know that Caleb is absent? It is important because he needs to be told what he missed when was absent.
That's similar to something that happened in our Bible lesson today. It was the Sunday after Jesus was crucified and his disciples had gathered together in a locked room. They were together in that locked room because they were afraid. They were afraid of what Jesus' enemies might do to them. The Bible tells us that, even though the doors were locked, Jesus came in and stood there with his disciples. When the disciples saw Jesus, they were very happy.
One of the disciples, whose name was Thomas, was not there with the others in that room when Jesus appeared to them. I don't know why Thomas wasn't there. Perhaps he was sick, or maybe he just decided to stay at home that day. The next time the other disciples saw Thomas, they told him what he had missed when he was absent. They said, "We have seen Jesus. He is alive!" Thomas didn't believe them. He said, "Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe it,"
The next week the disciples were in the house again, and this time Thomas was with them. The very same thing happened again. Even though the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among his disciples. He turned to Thomas and said, "See my hands; put your fingers here. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe."
Thomas didn't need to touch the wounds where the nails had been or put his hand into his side. He fell on his knees before Jesus and said, "My Lord and my God!"
One of the great promises Jesus made was when he said, "Where two or three gather in my name, I am there with them." Each week we come together in the name of Jesus to worship and to praise him. So, what do we miss out on if we are absent? We miss out on the same thing that Thomas missed out on when he was absent -- the chance to be with Jesus!
Father, we have come into this house and gathered in your name today because we want to be with you. We have come to worship and praise your name. In Jesus' name we pray. Amen.