A week ago, a nephew married and my mind went back to the words of the Rt. Rev. Richard Chartes as he began the Royal wedding ceremony three years ago, calling the wedding day a Day of Hope, as every wedding day should be. Then, he continued with several passages that caught my ear, particularly – “As the reality of God has faded from so many lives in the west, there has been a corresponding inflation of expectations that personal relations alone will supply meaning and happiness in life.”
Has that happened to you?
Is God less real to you now than when you were young, or less real to you than to your parents or grandparents. Instead of God, do you lean on people, and people alone? Perhaps doubts and questions about how to be a person of faith and a person who understands modern technology, germ theory, modern science and comparative religion have you feeling distant from God, or doubtful about much of what you were taught as you grew up.
We struggle to understand, but we cannot expect to understand everything. We cannot fit the infinite into our small heads. Or, perhaps, we give up the struggle because the doubts overcome us.
Doubting is not a sin, thank goodness. Even the disciples who walked with Jesus doubted. In one gospel, Jesus eats some fish so that the disciples will know that he is not a ghost. The disciple, Thomas, is allowed to voice his doubts which are met with a second visit by Jesus. Notice that Jesus is not angry with Thomas, but supplies what he needs in order to believe. Then, Thomas, proclaims his faith very decisively. The story about Thomas is for you and me so that we might believe and have life. And, yet, we may still have doubts.
We don’t have to hide our doubts. Doubting is normal, even while believing. We do not need to worry that God will punish us for doubts. Instead, we should pause, pray, and be open to God revealing something to us. If we cannot even pray for ourselves, we can remember that others are praying for us, especially if we are part of a community of faith.
On this Day of Hope, two people committed themselves to each other before God and a community. They moved toward each other with a community praying for them, supporting them in their marriage, as we all acknowledged God in their midst. They are pledging to love and forgive and support each other, not only by their own power, but with God’s help and the support of the community of family and friends.
They are not alone. We are not alone. This is a Day of Hope.