Thursday May 25, 2017 / Ascension Thursday
[ •Acts 1:1-11 • Psalm 47 • Ephesians 1:17-23 • + Matthew 28:16-20 • ]
Title: “Ascension Thursday”
[__01__] In confusion, there is also candor and honesty.
When I was in the seminary, a classmate suggested me he wanted me to join him for a mission and service trip to El Salvador. He was from El Salvador. It seemed interesting that I would visit his country.
He said, Jim, we have to get you to come on the annual trip to El Salvador. Several years passed and 2 or 3 other classmates were approached. I was never asked and was feeling confused.
Then, about six years after this initial suggestion of El Salvador, someone from the same department asked me. They said, we are planning a trip to Port-au-Prince, to Haiti. Would you like to go?
And, with complete candor, honesty and relief that somehow I had been selected, I said, “I would love to go to El Salvador.”
In a state of confusion – even doubt – there can be great honesty and candor. I was certainly candid about my feelings that finally I had moved from “rejection” to “acceptance.”
[__02__] In the Gospel, we read about the confusion of the disciples. We read of their doubt.
And, is this not a common reaction or mood or mode of speech and action of the disciples after Jesus has been arrested, put to death, and has risen from the dead?
They recognize him, sort of.
Some are not sure who he is.
Thomas the apostle refuses to accept the eyewitness testimony of his close friends.
And, in Matthew’s Gospel today, we also read about the disciples who are encountering Jesus at the very end of the Gospel episodes.
Matthew reports in the final end-of-day press briefing of his Gospel, “they worshiped, but they doubted”. (Matthew 28:___)
So, we might say that the disciples are being completely honest, completely candid about their feelings, their emotions at this critical juncture.
Some of them may think that they are at the, so to say, security checkpoint and they do not have boarding passes. Jesus would be going on further.
They would be left behind.
So, they worshiped, but they doubted.
[__03__] [__04__] For this reason, conversion and faith – and the profession of faith after the sermon or in the sacrament of baptism – or anytime, is not a one-time fix in which our spiritual operating system is upgraded and all the viruses removed.
Unfortunately, there is still room for the malware of sin.
This could come from our doubts.
However, I suggest that this uncertainty or unsteadiness is less overwhelming if we admit this doubt, if we bring this to the surface and even bring this doubt to our prayer.
They worshiped but they doubted.
[__05__] For example – in our person-to-person, one-on-one human relationships, what happens when we have doubts?
Are we willing to admit these doubts? Now, of course, we should be careful.
It can be a very explosive and destructive thing for your or me to say to our spouse, or to our mother, or to our best friend … “You know, I doubt whether or not you really care about me.”
That is, to make such a general statement is dangerous and may not really build up the relationship.
Then again, in a gentler way, can we not admit that every relationship needs HONESTY, COMMITMENT, NURTURING and this is not simply the other person’s responsibility.
In doubt, we can also examine our own actions and feelings about being rejected or ignored. This self-awareness does not make us weak. It means we still have self-esteem.
The temptation – in our doubts – is to put everyone else on trial.
However, such doubts are also a time to examine ourselves and to listen to the other person.
[__06_] If you are a teacher to a young person, a mother, a father, you know how easy it is to put the young person or the student or the child “on trial” while we examine him or her.
And, after we finish speaking, then all the doubts will be cleared up, right?
Truly, do we not learn that our doubts are addressed not by speaking but by listening, so also in our relationship with our Savior.
In love and prayer we try to listen to him, to wait for his word and for his Second Coming.
They worshiped, but they doubted.
That’s faith, that’s Good News. [__fin__]