I gotta admit, I really feel for those Apostles.
First Jesus calls them away from their familiar lives and makes a bunch of promises they don’t understand. Then he dies (even though he totally could have gotten out of it!). Then he rises from the dead. Then he eats a lot. Then he takes them all out to a mountain, says “I need you to spread my message to the entire world” (Oh, is that all??) “and by the way, I’m going to float away now. See ya!”
And then those snooty angels have the nerve to go over to the stupefied Apostles, who probably just need a second to regroup, and say “Hey bozos – why are you staring off into space??” No wonder they were hiding out at Pentecost. They’d had a rough few months.
When they saw him, they worshiped, but they doubted. I think that anyone who has committed themselves to faithfulness duirng this extended period of “already/not yet” is well versed in the worshipping doubt. What exactly am I doing this for, again? How long will we wait for the fulfillment of Christ’s promises, for the transformation of our world which is both beloved and broken? But through the doubts and questions we worship.
Jesus didn’t tell the Apostles “come back to me when you have conquered doubt” or “how can you expect me to trust you when you’re still uncertain?” Instead he says “here’s the task that I trust you to do. I will still be with you.” Maybe that’s the best we can hope for, that and the companionship of the Spirit soon to arrive at Pentecost. Maybe that’s enough.
(Begging forgiveness for my fusion & summary of today’s readings)
I gave a sermon when I was a senior in high school on Pentacost, and about how doubting but doing it anyway, about how letting God be bigger than you can wrap your head around, is what faith really is. It’s an idea I still hold dear.
YES. I love it. And I’d love to hear you preach.
Today, I need to be reminded of Pentecost. Thank you.
Earlier today I was overcome with sadness about this topic. I often feel caught in a sense of “I believe; help my unbelief”. It’s an awkward sense of in-betweenness, or as you (and Blessed JPII- great company!- ) mentioned, the already but not yet. The “companionship of the Spirit soon to come at Pentecost” is a beautiful thing to hope for!
Don’t be sad! You are right on the money that it is awkward – learning to embrace the awkwardness has been a big part of my spiritual journey. We are always on the way somewhere else.
Thanks for reading and commenting.
Maybe it is enough indeed. And I’m thankful that I also get the community of people like you to help along the way. This was just what I needed today.
Glad to help. That’s an important piece of the story too: the community of the Apostles journeying together. If nothing else, at least we have our fellow pilgrims.
I was having a great conversation yesterday about this. It’s a basic law of physics, musical melody, and even linguistic statements: “What goes up, must come down.” It’s always true in physics, it’s normal and stable in musical lines (well, usually anyway), and even in statements our voices rise and fall to determine the end of the sentence. There’s only one real exception: when we ask a question. Right? 🙂
We also know that, while Jesus liked to talk on mountains and plains and tell stories, we know him really well through his actions. The miracles, the eating, the walking, the praying, were parts of his ministry that we know and celebrate whenever we gather.
How does this fit together? What went up hasn’t come down. It’s the one exception to the rule. The Ascension, then, is Jesus’ acting out of the questions. In leaving it unanswered, we’re given this state of uncertainty–and the only thing certain is that we’re meant to be uncertain. We’re living an enacted question. Maybe we, with the help of Pentecost’s Holy Spirit, can help bring about the answer.
You are so cool. I am so glad that you are spending time with people who have conversations like this. We have to have one of our own in person soon.
Marc Cardaronella says
I’ve often thought that worshipped but doubted passage is one of the funniest and strange in all the New Testament. They figured out enough to worship him, but still they doubted. It’s strange, of course, until I thought about it and figured that I do the same thing. How often do I doubt, redouble my effort to trust, only to find myself doubting again. Not so strange at all.
And, you’re right! He didn’t say come back after you’ve gotten all that doubt straightened out! He promised to work with them along the way. I guess that’s what he does with me as well.
Stories like yours are precisely why I don’t have any problem with doubt – it’s totally natural! What we do because of or in spite of that doubt is where the rubber meets the road. Thanks for reading!
Blueberries For Me says
That verse always gives me such comfort. It’s honest; it lets me know I’m not alone.
In all honesty that verse had never really jumped out at me before. Believe me, you are not alone.
Andi Cumbo-Floyd says
Thank you for tweeting this out today, Margaret. Oh, I needed it.
Margaret Felice says
I need it too, Andi, for sure.