MySpiritualAdvisor.com’s Mark Kurowski reflects on our anger and doubt toward God. Why do you think you are so different? Listen to this podcast of his reflection on the readings for 2nd Sunday of Easter to find out what this all means. Please read John 20:19-31. #Prayer #Sermons #Homilyhelper #Doubt #EASTER
MySpiritualAdvisor.com, this is Mark Kurowski with a reflection for Sunday, 4/27/2014 The 2nd Sunday of Easter.
Please pause this audio and read John 20:19-31.
One of my students sat in my office and said, “I am really angry with God. He makes me so mad! Why would he bring me into this world to let me suffer, to come all this way and then have my plans ruined! What kind of God is that! I want nothing to do with that God!” Then that student looked at me. Actually, I should say, “those students”. It has been more than one person who has said those words, or words similar to them in the chair in my office. Then, that student, or those students, look over at me like, “Well, what do you have to say to me about that, holy man?”
I usually say something like this, “It is OK if you are angry with God. Be as angry with God as you have to be. Get it out of your system. Maybe you would like to go to the Chapel and have it out with him, you know, toe to toe! He can handle it.”
One student, of the many, said it best on two accounts. First he said, “I didn’t see THAT coming.” Secondly, he stopped and shook his head and said, “You are pretty good at this.” He and all the others totally expected me to chide them. But why should I?
Do we really believe that we are the only people who have doubted Jesus? We stand in a long line of people. People like Peter, you know, the guy upon whom Jesus built his church? People like Mary Magdalene, who we see going to the tomb, presumably to pay homage. She wasn’t looking for him anywhere but at the grave, friends. Most notably, people like Thomas, who doubts in our passage today, but went on to found churches in India and the East.
Doubt is the most common thing these days. I know when I see people I don’t know, but smile and say, “Hi!” they just look at me very warily as if I am just saying “hi” so that I can suck them into some scam. We often doubt when we have not experienced something that others have experienced. We say, “yeah, he SAID it happened, but I’ll believe it when I see it.” Somehow, we think that the people we read about in the Bible, who went on to do great things, were people who never doubted, believed the first time, were never mad at God, blah, blah, blah.
The sanitization of the Bible and Gospel story of Jesus is a real problem. Should I hide from you the fact that in John 20:22, Jesus is breathing on the apostles to give them the Holy Spirit? It is John’s own Pentecost where Jesus give the apostles the Holy Spirit. Why should we be surprised? In John 14-16 Jesus promised the gift of the Holy Spirit and now in John 20, Jesus delivers. Should we doubt Luke’s account of the gift of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost in Acts 2? Should we doubt the veracity of this account of Jesus’ resurrection appearances because only one woman is mentioned at the tomb, Mary Magdalene, here in John? In the other Gospels there are more women. Should we doubt the veracity of John because he differs from Luke, Matthew and Mark? Why would the Church give us such conflicting accounts?
Maybe the Church would give us such conflicting accounts because the early church, the people who put together the Bible at the Council of Hippo, realized that we doubt. Maybe they realized that we all don’t tell the same story the same way. Maybe they realized that people come by faith in different ways. Maybe that is why God created us: to enjoy us in our similitude of differences.
Mary hears a word from Jesus and believes. Thomas touches his hands, feet and side and believes. Peter will be encountered by Jesus in forgiveness and believes. Jesus is clearly in a resurrection body, one that is physical enough to be touched and eat, yet is spiritual enough to appear through doors which are closed and locked. The incredible authority of Jesus which transforms the physical is there for us in the transformed bread and wine. It is in that way that we encounter Jesus as food for our souls. We believe it, we know it, we live it. Yet, all of these ways show that we have all come to faith in God, we trust him, through different events in our lives. They are all valid. They are all good.
In my own experience, God has often come to me and guided me on a new and exciting way when I was at my lowest points. Yes, I said “points”. I have been low and doubted after I had come to know God. I have been low and doubted after I was ordained a minister in the United Methodist Church. I have been low and doubted when I was double crossed by two priests and a minister within three years. I have been low and doubted when my children have faced hard times for which I was helpless. I have been low and doubted when my marriage has not been all that I wanted it to be. Yet, through all of these times and more, even when I have doubted and been at the point of despair, Jesus Christ has not doubted me.
The amazing thing about Grace is that when we are ungodly, hardly righteous, perhaps somewhat good, Christ still loves us. Much like Mary Magdalene approaching the grave of her Lord, Jesus comes to us after we despair that he is dead and gone. Much like John, who has to look into an empty tomb to see for himself, Jesus shows himself to us. Much like Thomas, who will not doubt until he touches the Risen Lord, Jesus touches our hearts. Like Peter, who doubts and betrays the Lord in fear to save his own skin, Jesus comes to us with forgiveness.
Like all of these people, Jesus comes to us with the Holy Spirit and a commission. We are people who are human. We doubt. We hurt. We get angry. We do stupid things. We suffer. We die. We also know the power of grace, mercy and forgiveness. It is what God has given to us, even when we doubt him. In the midst of our doubt, he trusts us to go and present him to the world.
Where are we in that mission? Are we a forgiving force in our neighborhoods? Are we a forgiving force in our workplaces? Are we a forgiving force in our families? Are we a forgiving force to ourselves? What are the steps we need to take to own Christ’s trust and fulfill the commission? Whatever they are, do them now. Amen? Amen.
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