I remember standing in the kitchen with my dad and mom when I asked the questions. I was probably about thirteen as I believe it was confirmation class that prompted the conversation with my dad/pastor/confirmation class teacher. Mom was fixing dinner and dad and I were have a discussion about Christianity and beliefs. I remember asking, “So if Jesus was raised from the dead physically and ascended into heaven, how can we speak of the belief he is always everywhere with us? And if he was raised spiritually and not bodily and the tomb was empty what did they do with his body?
I remember dad answering the question as any good critical theologian might answer such a question, “Those are really good questions son, what do you think?” Which simply prompted more conversation, seeking, questions, and searching, which of course is exactly what dad intended. He was always one who encouraged us to seek out our own path, not to believe something just because he did, but to study, question, consider and make sure what we believed was our own.
As we sat down at the table for dinner that evening I remember mom saying to me, “You know Kent, I believe there are just some things we do not know and perhaps are not even supposed to know; they are a mystery.”
In hindsight I think there is something to be said about the kind of faith environment in which I was raised. There is tremendous benefit in being encouraged to find one’s own understanding and belief structures, to be encouraged to question, doubt, wrestle, and critically practically look at the stories of our faith. I also believe there is benefit in realizing, once we study, question, doubt, wrestle, and critically practically look at the stories of our faith, to be able to say, “I don’t know.”
There are a lot of questions and wondering around our stories and scriptures. Even the story of Jesus’ resurrection differ depending on which gospel account we are reading, they don’t even agree on the details of that morning. I have long appreciated the words of Marcus Borg with regards to the stories of resurrection when he spoke of Jesus’ resurrection as believing what you want about the story, literal bodily resurrection, spiritual, metaphorical, but how does your belief transform you and help you make this world a better place in which to live? Likewise, the quote Diana Butler Bass shared from a “liberal bishop who was asked if he believed in the resurrection,” to which he replied, “Believe it? I’ve seen it too many times not to!”
I believe questions, doubts, wrestling, wondering, and being vulnerable enough to say “I don’t know” are crucial and indispensable qualities of a deep and abiding faith journey. And so, with all I know and with all I do not know, I am still able to cherish this Holy Week with all of its celebrations, questions, difficulties, suffering, betrayal, and darkness. I am still able to embrace all it holds and show up on Easter Sunday morning and celebrate and proclaim with all of us “He is Risen!”
Join us this Sunday at College Hill for our Easter Resurrection Sunday Celebration of Peace come to Life! It is one of the many ways we seek to be mindful of the Spirit and one another here at the Hill, where you are one of the community. Here where there is always an open door, a safe space, a warm welcome, and a place at the table. Not Your Ordinary Church. Until next week, God bless, and know you are never alone.
Peace and Light on Your Journey,