I’ve barely recovered from Easter, but apparently Sunday’s a comin’ again.
This week, the Narrative (finally!?) ends it’s season of Matthew with the closing verses of the book.
Working Preacher commentary is here.
I saw this quote on Facebook this morning, and it may inform my sermon quite a bit.
This passage is most famously known for the Great Commission, but this post-Easter text is Matthew’s version of John’s ‘doubting Thomas’ text. In verse 17, we’re told that when the disciples encountered Jesus, as he had said they would, “When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted.”
I’m a skeptical, doubting kind of person. So these doubting disciples are my kind of people. But I’m wondering what they were doubting. In my Easter sermon, I pointed out that the guards had been at the tomb in order to prevent Jesus’ followers from taking his body and then claiming resurrection. And after Easter, they are told to tell lies about what really happened.
We think false and competing narratives is a hallmark of our time, and it is. But it is also reflected in scripture. How many disciples have doubts because of what they heard the guards say on TV news?
The word used for doubting here means to waver, to be unsure which way to go. It’s a waffling, uncertain kind of word. (Interestingly, the word translated by the NRSV in John’s account of Thomas is not this word, but is “unbelieve”). Matthew’s doubt is not intellectual questioning as much as it is waffling behavior, standing in two spaces, being unsure which direction to go.
I pray our churches have lots of space for those who doubt and question. With the depiction of Christians on the news, I often doubt that we serve the same God. In Idaho, where I live, political leaders often claim that because of their Christian faith, they cannot support non-discrimination for people who are LGBTQIA+. For me, and many other Christians, my faith is what compels me to welcome people, to set aside prejudice and discrimination. I have lots of doubts about the way faith is wielded by politicians.
I pray our churches have less space for waffling, as Matthew describes. I hope we don’t hear the Great Commission and worry it’s too much, it’s more than our budgets will support, it’s too challenging. I hope the Great Commission doesn’t make us waffle. Because all authority on heaven and on earth has been given to Jesus, not to us. We are sent out to teach, to baptize, to proclaim Good News as agents of Jesus, who will not leave us to the task alone. “Remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age”.
Where is the muse taking you this week?
Ideas for children sermons? Liturgy to share?
Blessings on your sermonizing.
Marci Auld Glass is the pastor of Southminster Presbyterian Church and lives with her husband and sons in Boise, Idaho. She is a graduate of Trinity University and Columbia Theological Seminary. She serves on the boards of the Clergy Advocacy Board of Planned Parenthood, Covenant Network, and the Mission Agency of the Presbyterian Church USA. Marci blogs at Glass Overflowing and is among the contributors to the RevGals book, There’s a Woman in the Pulpit (SkyLight Paths).
RevGalBlogPals encourages you to share our blog posts via email or social media. We do not grant permission to cut-and-paste prayers and articles without a link back. For permission to use material in paper publications, please email revgalblogpals at gmail dot com.