there’s room for honest doubt in authentic faith communities

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What can I give Him, poor as I am?
If I were a shepherd, I would bring a lamb;
If I were a Wise Man, I would do my part;
Yet what I can I give Him? I can give my heart.

Happy Monday, friends! It’s a beautiful sunny day here in Wake Forest and – sometime this morning – the temperature will finally get above freezing for the first time in close to a week. It’s been a record-setting series of days, culminating in Sunday morning’s 5-degrees Fahrenheit (that’s fifteen below zero for those of you who talk Celsius).

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Cold as it was, our hearts were warmed to see such a large crowd of worshippers in church for the 9:00 Praise Service, then again at 11:15. I had been on the schedule to sing for some time, so it was a complete “coincidence” that the words In the Bleak Midwinter flashed up on the screen when I walked up to the mic with my guitar.

I did my best to channel Jame’s Taylor’s beautiful arrangement while Brett played the drums and Hans made his guitar gently weep (you can pick up the song – followed by Rebekah’s sermon – at the 17-minute mark on the WFPC LiveFeed).

The serendipity – and this was true in both services – was how the central idea of the song (what it means to give ourselves as followers of Jesus) was also the core theme in Rebekah’s message.

More Serendipity:

1-IMG_4108Another serendipity was filling a pew with my niece Hannah and her four children. Being in church together wrapped up the weekend nicely, then they drove to the airport and headed back to sunny Sarasota so the kids could thaw out before returning to school.

Rebekah’s message was built around the instructions Jesus offered at the end of Matthew 28, his last words before the ascension. She talked a lot about the phrase “some doubted.”

There was Jesus, obviously risen from death, standing right in front of the disciples. Yet, amazingly, some of them still doubted. This is actually encouraging good news for the rest of us – because Jesus sent them out into the world anyway.

Honest doubt is a natural part of faith. Jesus didn’t argue it, he simply said “Go anyway!” – “Serve anyway!” – “Love anyway!” 

Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus told them to go. When they saw him, they worshipped him, but some doubted. Jesus came near and spoke to them, “I’ve received all authority in heaven and on earth. Therefore, go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to obey everything that I’ve commanded you. Look, I myself will be with you every day until the end of this present age.” – Matthew 28:16-20

“As you go,” Jesus said, “make disciples.”

All Kinds of People!

1-Fullscreen capture 172018 42807 PMOur church is at its best when we are full with all kinds of people. People who have faith to move mountains; people who are completely engaged, mature in their knowledge of God; folk who are not quite sure why they are in church, but who come anyway; seekers exploring the idea of God; non-believers who are nowhere near faith but who are still captivated by the story; those who come to plug in with ways to help do good in the community; doubters, honest strugglers, skeptics and more.

We need to be the kind of church, Rebekah suggested, where it’s okay to be “on the journey” rather than already at the destination. In fact – she pointed out – if we don’t represent that kind of diversity in terms of who we are, then we have to ask ourselves are we really doing what we have been called to do as an invitational community?

“Invitation” is exactly where this blog is camping out for 2018! Those of us meandering along this road less traveled by must be in the business of inviting other stumbling disciples to join us – and also those who don’t see themselves as disciples quite yet.

When [the eleven] saw him, they worshipped him, but some doubted.

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