Dear people of Bethlehem,
Blessed time of resurrection; for that is always where we live as the people of God. Every step on our journey is a step after the empty tomb. We know no world that does not include a risen Lord. In the tumult of this life, we have the promise that redemption is possible. In the fear of this life, we have the certainty that Christ is present. We hear Jesus words, “Fear not. Come and touch the marks of the nails.” Thomas doubted. He could not allow himself either hope or belief, until he touched Jesus himself. The same was true for Mary at the tomb and for the other disciples gathered in the upper room. Thomas was no different than anyone else, he was just the last one to the party. We are the same. We all doubt. We all need the hand of Jesus to make faith possible. At one of the appearances of Jesus after the resurrection, the disciples are dumbfounded to see the Lord. The Greek text says, “They worshiped and they doubted.” The translators thought that must have been a mistake, so they rewrote it to say, “They worshiped; but some doubted.” (Matt 28:17)
It was no mistake. We worship and we doubt. Faith and doubt are not antithetical to each other, rather it is doubt that makes faith possible. Fear and hope, despair and confidence, doubt and faith — they all part of this life. The scripture that says, “they worshiped and the doubted” is the great commission. Jesus said to the faithful doubters, “You go therefore and make disciples of all nations.” Jesus entrusted the doubters, you and me, with the responsibility to proclaim the Good News to the world.
There is a beloved song in the church, “Hallelujah We Sing Your Praises”. It comes from Africa. The chorus says, “Now he sends us all out. Strong in faith, free of doubt.” I love the song, but I have always been uncomfortable with that verse. As the people of faith we are not free of doubt. We have questions. We have legitimate fears. We struggle to make sense of this broken world. A strong faith does not eliminate our legitimate questions, nor our concerns. The last time we sang this song in church, I finally understood it. I watched a member of the congregation who was setting off on a new and unknown journey sing that song with joyous courage. Certainly she had her doubts and her fears, but neither dimmed her confident in her risen Lord. She was confident, that like the disciples on the road to Emmaus, he would meet her in the journey. Confident that she would find redemption and be found in resurrection joy. Faith is our confidence in the goodness of God, even in our doubt and fear. Faith is the certainty that God keeps God’s promises and that the tomb stands empty this day.
Please join us on Sunday April 8, at 2 pm as we install Pastor Sam and celebrate his ministry among us. Maundy Thursday was his first sermon with us and his first sermon as an ordained pastor. The power went out that night and the lights came back on in the middle of his sermon — just as he hit the gospel. I told him afterwards, we need no further confirmation that God has blessed his call and ministry. God is so entertaining sometimes. :)
May you be blessed along your journey of doubt and faith. May you live in the certainly of a risen Lord and the promise of resurrection, meant for us all.
Peace be the journey,