Advent 8: Doubt and Hope

Warning:  This is a little longer and a little more churchy than some.

Inspired by this tweet from sometime in October:

@_____:  No one’s doubt has ever pushed me away from the Church; their arrogance often has.

hope-1024x682Why are we afraid of doubt?  In church-speak, doubting means finding yourself lumped in with people like the Pharisees and Sadducees, Lot’s wife, and Judas. These are people who (supposedly) had second thoughts and were condemned for it.  If we doubt, WHEN we doubt, we get painted with the same “less than faithful” brush.

But if doubting means we’re somehow “less than,” what do we do with people like Ruth and Thomas and Joseph (Jesus’ father) and Zechariah and the unnamed Canaanite Woman  and Moses and David and, dare I say it, Jesus himself? They are no less questioning, no less bewildered. These wanderers are just as uncertain, even uneasy about the path they find themselves traveling.

Maybe one difference is HOPE.  I’m not talking about he Emily Dickinson “hope is a thing with feathers…” I don’t mean that nebulous, hyper-spiritual thing that (so we’re told) we are supposed to have and which gives us all kinds of strength and courage so we can blindly follow what some book or some preacher tells us is the WAY.  I’m not even talking about hope that is expressed in the form of extreme self-confidence and the utter absence of doubt (which, by the way, is often seen as arrogance).

None of that is hope.  If the season of Advent, the season of “not yet,” teaches us anything, it’s this:  Hope is about keeping on in the midst of doubts. Hope is about relying on others to carry us when paralyzing doubts make us unable to move forward.  Hope is about being guided by someone who can see when we are blinded by uncertainty.  Hope is that magnetic force thing that draws together and connects a bunch of like-minded, like-hearted people who know that at the end of a weary week filled with woe, we can still help each other.

It’s a dream, I know.  And by the way, it’s also how I see the church.

As it could be.
As it is in some places.  As it is some of the time.
Something to hope for.  Something to hope with.

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