Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them. When they saw him, they worshipped him; but some doubted. And Jesus came and said to them, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.’
What you seek is seeking you.
Message – “Some Doubted”
This passage of scripture has intrigued me for some time. It rolls around every Trinity Sunday. The focus is supposed to be on Jesus words, “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Creator, Redeemer, and Sustainer…. However, I am almost always drawn to three particular words in the story the author of Matthew tells… “but some doubted.” I am drawn to them because the author does not seem to give any indication as to what this means.
When I read this text, I am always drawn to the question, “What did they doubt?” The author does not tell us. Did they doubt the whole experience? This is another post resurrection story in the narrative of our sacred text. Did they doubt the experience and story of their fellow disciple? Question whether it was true or not? Was it the experience of the risen Christ they doubted? Did they doubt that this experience was real or actually happening? Did they doubt what the other disciples were hearing or seeing? Did they doubt what they themselves were hearing or seeing? Did they doubt they should be worshiping Jesus or this vision the author describes? Did they doubt they should go and make disciples of all nations?
I have a lot of questions about these three words the author chose to tack on to the sentence… “When they saw him, they worshipped him.” I want to know what they doubted. To take it another direction… perhaps the author is not having them doubt the experience, or the vision, or the worshipping, or the commission to go… rather I wonder if it was about self-doubt and uncertainty. Maybe they doubted and were uncertain that had what it takes to go and make disciples? Perhaps they doubted and were uncertain they had the gifts and graces to carry out the mission. Perhaps they doubted and were uncertain they knew what to say, or did not understand other’s stories enough to engage in this kind of conversation? Perhaps their doubts and uncertainties were that they themselves were uncertain about what they were seeking at the time, so how could they encourage others to seek and experience of the risen Christ? Perhaps… they were unaware of that idea put forth in our reading from Rumi this morning… “What you seek is seeking you.” I wondered if the author may have put those three words in the text for the benefit of other readers…. To consider and ponder their own doubts and uncertainties…
Doubts and uncertainties in and of themselves are not bad things. Like so many other parts of our journey of life and faith, it is what we do with those that is important. Do we let our doubts and uncertainties close us down? Do we let our doubts and uncertainties quell our passion? Do we allow our doubts and uncertainties wall us in, silence us, question the experience and story of our fellow sojourners on the way? Do we allow our doubts and uncertainties make us suspicious of others? Or, do we use our doubts and uncertainties as fuel for our journey? Do we utilize our doubting, our uncertainty to drive our journey deeper into the faith? Do we allow our doubts and uncertainties to prompt us to study, read, seek to better understand the stories of others as well as our own story? Do we let our doubts and uncertainties inspire us to listen deeper to the Spirit as we discern our journey and listen deeper to those whose stories are different than ours in order to move us further down the road with God and one another? Do our doubts and uncertainties keep us from taking the necessary steps in action and works… or do they motivate us to reach out, to take the next step… and the next step… and the next step… sometimes falling, but always rising back up to learn from our missteps and stumbling back on the path toward reconciliation, grace, forgiveness, compassion, and love? Of what are we uncertain, what do we doubt…and how do we use that doubt and uncertainty to carry us deeper into the connection with the divine and one another?
I found myself at the corner of 72nd and Dodge the first Friday of the protests here in Omaha with my homemade “Black Lives Matter Sign” and my mask as the protest began at 6:00 pm. I was encouraged by the honks from cars in support, the raised fists, thumbs up, and waves from car windows. I was surrounded mostly by persons younger than myself as they passed back and forth behind me, but there were others my age as well, it was a diverse crowd of color, of words on signs, and shouts and chants of justice and remembrance of George Floyd. I left the gathering at about 7:00 pm, being mindful of the COVID virus and not wanting to be exposed more than I should. I gave my sign to a young woman who had no sign and made my way back up to my vehicle parked at the church.
As I walked, I thought of my own privilege of the ability to attend such a gathering, with my sign, and not really worried about whether I would make it back home or not. I thought about my own self-doubts and uncertainties related to my abilities or lack thereof …to speak to and stand with our siblings of color who do not have the same human rights as those such as myself because of the color of their skin. I thought about my own self-doubts and uncertainties and how I would use them… and a commitment to strive to listen to the stories of others to deepen my connection with those whose stories so differ from my own.
I thought about my own self-doubts and uncertainties with a commitment…to continue to read to better understand that which I can never fully understand or experience. I prayed about my own self-doubts and uncertainties, as I walked the sidewalk, for the Divine to continue to open my heart and mind…to opportunities for me to reach out and act, stand with and speak with, all those who long for equality, anti-racism, and equal justice under the law.
Thomas Merton’s words came to mind as I rounded the corner into the church drive as I considered steps I might take in this current journey…
My Lord God,
I have no idea where I am going.
I do not see the road ahead of me.
I cannot know for certain where it will end.
nor do I really know myself,
and the fact that I think I am following your will
does not mean that I am actually doing so.
But I believe that the desire to please you does in fact please you.
And I hope I have that desire in all that I am doing. I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire. And I know that if I do this you will lead me by the right road,
though I may know nothing about it.
Therefore will I trust you always though
I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death.
I will not fear, for you are ever with me,
and you will never leave me to face my perils alone.
While I do not know, nor can I understand fully… I do know white supremacy, white nationalism, racism, the continued and the diminishing, dismissal, abuse, and murder of persons of color is sin, it is a plague on our society, and we cannot rest until it is eradicated.
Black Lives Matter!
My work is to listen more deeply to my siblings of color, to continue to educate myself in anti-racism, and to continue to be open to the Spirit as I discern appropriate opportunities for steps regarding action and work. To quote a friend of mine… your work and passion must come from here… the heart… listen to it! I know you are on this journey with me as well… we are not all at the same place on this journey… however… let us continue on… listening to our hearts… together. I pray this is so. Amen.