Wednesday, April 07, 2010

"But some doubted"

Wednesday, April 7, 2010 -- Wednesday in Easter Week

Today's Readings for the Daily Office
(Book of Common Prayer, p. 959)
Psalms 97, 99 (morning)       115 (evening)
Exodus 12:40-51
1 Corinthians 15:(29)30-41  
Matthew 28:1-16

As happens elsewhere in Matthew's Gospel, he elaborates on Mark's text.  Mark tends to avoid the theatrical and showy presentation of the Gospel, but Matthew enjoys more thunder and lightning.  Instead of a man in white sitting quietly in the tomb, there is an earthquake and an angel at the empty tomb.  The women leave not in fear but in joy.  On the way to tell the disciples they encounter Jesus and take hold of his feet and worship him.

Matthew also gives us the story of the rumor that the body of Jesus was stolen, which he says is still circulated to counter the Christian's claim "to this day." 

Matthew closes with the appearance of Jesus in Galilee on the mountain.  (He records no other resurrection accounts in Jerusalem.)  Despite the rather compelling description of the earthquake and angel and of the appearance of Jesus to commission his followers to mission, Matthew says this of the appearance in Galilee:  "When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted."  From the beginning, there was doubt within the community of the followers of Jesus.

It seems to me that doubt is a fundamental component of faith.  I've saved a few comments about doubt from elsewhere (but I'm not sure of the sources).  Doubt or the ability to question our beliefs is an essential ability if we are to learn and grow in our understanding of God.  The day we are certain about God is the day we have become as big as God, and know nothing of God.  Certainty leads to arrogance, while an openness and willingness to doubt leads to humility.  Certainty is the belief that we are smarter today than we will be tomorrow.

Frederick Buechner says, "Whether your faith is that there is a God or that there is not a God, if you don't have any doubts you are either kidding yourself or asleep.  Doubts are the ants in the pants of faith.  They keep it awake and moving."

I write these things from the perspective of one who is temperamentally inclined toward doubt.  I am a natural doubter.  I always have been.

But every once in a while I meet someone who seems to know in a natural and intuitive way, a knowing that seems to have little need for doubt.  William James called these the "once born."  There are those people who have had an intuitive relationship with God all of their lives, and faith is the most natural thing in the world.  In every congregation I've served, there have been a few of these once-born people.  They usually are rather quiet and soft spoken.  They do their ministry and say their prayers without drawing any attention to themselves.  They walk with an unstrained, continual awareness of God's presence.  I love to be with such people.  They tend to fly under the radar and carry so much of God's work and purpose.

From the earliest days, the community of the church included those who believed and those who doubted.  A healthy church is one that offers plenty of room for our doubters.  Plenty of room for us doubters.



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About Morning Reflections
Morning Reflections is a brief thought about the scripture readings from the Daily Office of Morning and Evening Prayer according to the practice found in the Book of Common Prayer of the Episcopal Church.

Morning Prayer begins on p. 80 of the Book of Common Prayer.
Evening Prayer begins on p. 117
An online resource for praying the Daily Office is found at
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The Mission of St. Paul's Episcopal Church
is to explore and celebrate
God's infinite grace, acceptance, and love.

Visit our web site at

Our Rule of Life
We aspire to...
worship weekly
pray daily
learn constantly
serve joyfully
live generously.

Lowell Grisham, Rector
St. Paul's Episcopal Church
Fayetteville, Arkansas


At 9:17 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Amen! There's room for me.


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