Saturday, April 23, 2011

Easter Eve

today's New Testament reading for Morning Prayer from the RCL is John 2.18-22

     leaf filled grate
      cat crouched over
       ~a rustle from within

It wasn't until after Jesus had risen that his disciples began to understand what was happening. And their understanding was not immediate. The women who came to the tomb thought that someone had stolen his body. Once they had seen him, no one believed them. Some of the men ran to the tomb and found it empty, but didn't know what to think. It wasn't until after they had seen him for themselves that they started to believe. Famously, Thomas refused to believe the witness of his friends until he has seen for himself.

What does that tell us? Well one of the things it tells us is that doubt is OK. Christianity is a faith in which God becomes a human being, a peasant, who suffers a humiliating death as a criminal, and then rises from the dead. There are bound to be times when we are uncertain. Especially the hard times when we wonder where God's love is in anything in this world. And perhaps also in the good times, when life is going so well that we'd rather not think about God in case it reminds us to put the brakes on in the way we're living ... and the easier option is to refuse to believe.

There's bound to be doubt. If those who knew Jesus felt doubt, then why not us? Are we less human than they? Do we think we are better than those who saw him face to face? Their reaction to the Risen Lord was to lock themselves away in a room to hide. They needed God's help, through the work of the Holy Spirit within them, to give them the strength and the courage to go out and tell the world that Jesus was alive and what that meant for all people.

So if you feel doubt, don't worry. So did they. But then remember the faith experiences that you have had - how you've felt God's presence in your life while in prayer, the comfort you've felt when you needed it most, the unexpected moments when you felt so close to him that you thought you might reach out and touch him. That's God giving you the help that you need, just as he helped the first followers of Jesus.

Those experiences are as real as any other you may have in your life. You may not be able to put them under a microscope, but then neither can you put so many other parts of human life on a glass slide. You know they are real ... and in your heart of hearts you know your experience of God and your faith is real also. Doubt is OK. Just don't let it get in the way of believing and living out your faith in the world.

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