Thursday, April 12, 2012

Honesty

Thursday, April 12, 2012 -- Thursday in Easter Week

Readings for the Daily Office (Book of Common Prayer, p. 959)
Psalms  146, 147 (morning)        //        148, 149 (evening)
Exodus 13:3-10
1 Corinthians 15:41-50
Matthew 28:16-20   

Today's Gospel reading is the final section of Matthew.  Some time has passed since Easter.  The disciples have left Jerusalem and gone home to Galilee.  Then follows a sentence that may feel perplexing to modern ears:  "When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted."

It's easy to ask -- why would they doubt that?  They've seen Jesus crucified and dead; they've heard the women's stories that he has risen from the dead; and now, days later, he appears to them.  On its face this sounds pretty convincing.  "But some doubted."

It is likely that the resurrection appearances of Jesus were more ambiguous in person than they read in Scripture.  Whatever happened must have needed an element of interpretation, faith and trust.  It was something that reasonable people could have doubts about.

That is comforting to me for a couple of reasons.  First, it is possible that the disciples' experience of the risen Jesus was not significantly more dramatic than my own.  Maybe there is not a stark qualitative difference between how those disciples experienced the presence of Christ with them and how we feel him with us now.  I like that.  It saves me from the excuse, "Oh, I could have a stronger face if I had seen what they saw.  They had it easy."  Maybe not.

Second, it is comfortable that the Gospel accounts reflect that it is reasonable to have doubts, even about the resurrection.  This Sunday we will read the story of Thomas.  He missed the Easter appearances.  All he had was the second-hand accounts of his friends.  Nevertheless, he is with them the following Sunday.  He is part of the communion even though he doesn't share the other's experience and belief.  He is honest and courageous enough to own his own doubt, his own experience.  He doesn't just do the comfortable and conventional thing and follow the crowd by fitting in with the other disciples certainty. 

Jesus honors Thomas' authenticity.  Jesus appears to him and his alienation and grief are healed.

I think that if we are honest, open and seeking, Christ will honor each of us with an experience of his presence.  Don't be afraid to ask God to be manifest.  Seek the risen Lord and ask for Jesus to appear to you.  Then open your spiritual ears and eyes.  Like Thomas you may be surprised, but what ever happens is likely to carry an ambiguous interpretation.  Is it really the risen Christ or just something else?  You decide.

Lowell



Audio podcast:  Listen to an audio podcast of the most recent Morning Reflections from today and the past week.  Click the following link:
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Morning Reflection Podcasts

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 missionstclare.com -- Click for online Daily Office
Another form of the office from Phyllis Tickle's "Divine Hours" is available on our partner web site www.ExploreFaith.org at this location -- http://explorefaith.org/prayer/fixed/index.html --  Click for Divine Hours

The Mission of St. Paul's Episcopal Church
is to explore and celebrate
God's infinite grace, acceptance, and love.

See our Web site at www.stpaulsfay.org

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

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