September 15

Until my cup overflows

By iquillen

A friend once told me an interesting metaphor. We had just eaten dinner a week after classes ended in the spring. As we walked back toward campus, we started chatting about the end of reading period and finals, and what had unfolded during that time. Finals week had been an particularly tumultuous time for me, and I told him that I was having trouble helping a friend because I wasn’t doing well myself. He then related something like this to me:

A person is like a cup. When we love ourselves, we fill this cup with water. When we attend to the needs of others before our own, it’s like poking a hole into the cup. The water drains slowly over time, and eventually the cup becomes empty. Loving yourself before loving others is like letting the water overflow from your cup into other people’s cups.

It was a simple yet powerful metaphor that stayed with me long afterward. Nevertheless, I’ve experienced a lot of trouble coming to terms with it, especially since I moved back to campus for my junior year. Our conversation left a question that has bothered me over the summer, and continues to do so at present: What does it mean to love oneself?

I had long associated the idea of loving oneself with the myth of Narcissus. I remember reading lots of Greek myths as a kid, but this particular one offers a poignant perspective. In the myth, Narcissus was doomed to become enraptured with his own reflection in a pool. Despairing at his inability to embrace his reflection, he ultimately drowned in it. In other versions, he wasted away from hunger and left behind a narcissus flower. It’s not a very cheerful story, but it does aptly sum up the implications of being in love with oneself. The self-absorption that Narcissus experienced consumed him, and he was unable to notice the thoughts and feelings of anyone else around him.

And there was, indeed, another person around him. In some versions of the myth, there is another character, a nymph named Echo, who falls in love with him. Cursed to only repeat words spoken to her, she could only watch mournfully and fade away to an echo as Narcissus admired himself in the pool. In a way, Echo’s story and character mirrors that of Narcissus. She, too, is consumed, not because she is in love with herself, but because she only loves another person.

The myth of Echo and Narcissus provides two examples of what loving oneself should not be.  There is a significant difference between loving oneself and being in love with oneself, a difference which extends beyond a change of wording and semantics. The latter, when taken to an extreme, involves completely alienating oneself from everyone else, whereas the former can allow us to respond flexibly to those who surround us. Sometimes, it is necessary to take a step back from heavy or draining conversations to re-center ourselves and recover. At other moments, we may feel compelled to act for another person, especially when they are experiencing a difficult time themselves. Sometimes we are forced to do both, which is an especially challenging task of juggling.

With that said, there is also a stark distinction between being caring toward other people and putting them above yourself, as demonstrated by the character of Echo. Since I moved back onto campus, I’ve had to practice taking care of myself and focusing more on what I need. Frankly, that isn’t something I’m accustomed to doing. I’ve grown very used to being caring toward other people because that is part of the compassion, empathy, and kindness that I value. I would sometimes forget, though, to care for and be kind to myself in the process. This habit left me exhausted, frustrated, and drained, especially over the past two weeks with the additional stress of moving back to campus and a full courseload.

I bring it up the myth of Echo and Narcissus because for a very long time, my answer to the question I asked at the beginning would have in some way evoked this story. Ever since the conversation with my friend and the start of this semester, though, the view I used to hold has begun to change. Loving oneself does not mean fixating on oneself at the expense of another, nor does it mean sacrificing one’s well-being for the sake of someone else. This semester, I intend to redefine what it does mean for me, and how I can apply that definition in my interactions with friends, strangers, and other people whom I care about. While I don’t know what exactly that process will look like, I do know that it will require self-respect, both physical and mental. It will require being kind and forgiving with myself and acknowledging that no person can be only one aspect of themselves all the time. Finally, it will require me to be patient with myself, and accept that change within oneself often comes gradually. I expect to stumble frequently along the way, but all of us fall and will eventually pick ourselves up again. For the time being, that knowledge is enough to help me move forward through the semester. It is enough to fill myself until my cup overflows.

September 10

Cider, Good company, and Great Music

By cbjones8

Leaving the comfortable beauty of hiking every day, being with friends, spending time on the Potomac river, and being at camp was more difficult this year than it had ever been before.  Perhaps it is because this year I had far more confidence at camp.  I owned it this year, and leaving that scared me.  Perhaps the daunting reality of ac6 class schedule was too much to think about when floating down a river while a bunch of high-schoolers splashed each other without a care in the world. Perhaps it is because leaving behind the people I love was especially difficult this year.

Regardless of why leaving home this year was the hardest it had ever been, I was quickly reminded of the people I love so dearly her in Boston.  I was thrilled to death to see that The Crossing (one of the many congregations I love so dearly) would be hosting an even entitled “Hymns in a Bar.”  You see, my first encounter with this idea was from Nadia Bolz-Weber’s book Pastorix where she discusses her church’s practice of singing hymns in a bar.  They called their event “Beer and Hymns.”  I have been fixated on this idea ever since.  I could not wait until Saturday.

Jaimie and I have a tendency to sing hymns loudly for no reason at all when we are together, so I thought she would enjoy it.

“Do you want to come sing hymns in a bar with me?”

“Duh! That sounds fantastic!”

I am certain she did.

We arrived, and I was immediately greeted by hugs from old friends I hadn’t seen in a few months.  I introduced them to Jaimie.  She knew people and friends from her own communities of faith as well, and I considered for a moment the beauty of the interconnectedness of us all.

After a time of socializing, we began to sing.  At first some people were hesitant to sing, but we quickly got comfortable with each other.  Mind you there were easily over 100 people crowded into this bar, singing as loudly and as joyfully as possible.

What a thing to behold.  In a bar, a large group gathered to praise the Lord.  It was beautiful.  My heart swelled in love with the communities of faith I have been blessed to find, but also in love with a God who truly is present everywhere.  Who says that bars and church are mutually exclusive?  I think the idea that there are places for God and places where God should not be is silly.  Jesus would most certainly have hung out in places the Pharisees would not have, like…a bar.  Some of my more conservative church friends, particularly back home, got really uncomfortable when I shared my weekend plans with them.  “Oh you know, I’m going to go sing hymns all night at a bar in Cambridge.”  So often we think of appropriating where God and where worship can and can not be.  I must say, when we break those molds, meet people where they are, and experience new ways to worship, it is truly a beautiful experience.

I can’t wait for the next one.


September 9

Where Two or Three are Gathered

By kmshultz

In my work with Marsh, I often catch myself falling into the mentality that bigger-is-better. Society would dictate that the more people we have in our services, the more donations we bring in, the more prayers we say, and the more activities and study groups we offer, the better off we are and the more successful our ministry is. In some cases, this could be true but it is so easy to get caught up in a strange competition where ministry becomes more about quantity than quality. Eventually, we lose sight of the whole focus of ministry and become simply another business trying to maximize our output.


This past Sunday, Jess and I arranged for Jen to come preside over communion. We prepared dinner and waited for others to gather with us but when 6:30 rolled around, it was just me, Jess, and Jen. When we have a vespers service with three, four, or five people—two of which are me and Jess—it’s so easy to think of it as a failure and ask myself, what can I do to grow this ministry, where else can I advertise, how can I get more of my friends to come, how can I reach out to people I don’t know? While these are important questions, it distracts me from the here-and-now of vespers. That’s a shame because I find the services so meaningful and I love the opportunity to worship in a more casual and intimate setting.


I have to remind myself that the point of a worship service is not to fill the space but to gather together as members of the body of Christ and worship God together—to pray, learn from each other, hear the Word, share the meal, and be strengthened to go back into the world. This can be accomplished in a cathedral packed to the walls but also in a room of just a few people. As Matthew 18:20 says, ‘Where two or three are gathered in my name, I am there with them.’


In my meeting last week with Soren, he asked me about my hopes and dreams for this semester. I’m always caught off guard by questions like that and never give a satisfactory answer. A year is just such a large chunk of life to assess in a few seconds. And I want so many things—I want to figure out what’s next after college, I want to travel, I want to visit friends, I want to get through this semester without giving up sleep, exercise, or sanity. But I also want to be able to slow down amidst all the demands of life—the hopes, the dreams, the assignments, and the stresses—and I want to take time to connect with people. I want to ignore my tendencies to judge success on quantity and I want to give a vespers service of two or three people as much attention as I would give to a vespers service of ten or fifteen. I want to take the time to pray, to learn from fellow members of the Body of Christ, to share the meal with them, to listen to the Word, to be strengthened to go back out into the world, and to be inspired to come back and do it all over again. I want to find the presence of Christ in even the smallest gathering.


April 29

Great Expectations

By jdingus

So the semester is winding down, or more like ramping up to the end. I’ve been thinking of what take-aways, what wisdom I’ve gained this year and what I want to share. One of the ideas, that’s been sort of a recurring theme, and that you can probably track if you look at some of my older blog posts, is that I often approach life, people, and situations with a lot of preconceptions. I go into situations with my mind already made up and often I’m ready to be uncomfortable. I anticipate disappointment. I set my expectations too low. And there’s no reason why I should approach life this way. Doing this doesn’t make me happier. It definitely doesn’t reflect my values, and it ends up making me feel embarrassed for having such bad expectations to start with.

One of the key components of my theology is a belief that people are inherently good and filled with the light of the divine. When I set my expectations low, when I discount people I am going against my own beliefs. But it’s hard to set super high expectations for other people. It’s hard to expect places and situations to be enriching and inspiring, because setting high expectations makes us vulnerable. It opens us up to disappointment and let down. So what are we supposed to do, when we believe that people are good, and yet we know that people can and over and over again will let us down?

A UU seminarian friend shared with me her strategy to living into an ethic of high expectation. It’s called the “Green Lens.” The way it works is every time you meet or think about a person in your life, you view them with the following understandings.

The Green Lens

  • This person is a hero, whole and complete.
  • This person has goals and dreams and a desire to make a difference.
  • This person has all their own answers.
  • This person is contributing to me right now.
  • This person deserves to be treated with dignity and respect.

~The Academy for Coaching Excellence

I love this list because it is both true in the right now and also an amazingly high expectation to set. I believe that each person is whole and complete, has goals and answers and gifts to give me. I believe each person deserves respect. And I also know that when I see people this way, when I believe in each person’s inherent goodness, I feel more whole.

Moving into the summer, into the next year of my life I want to harness the power of this green lens. I want to see people for the good that they are and not the threat they could potentially pose. I want to remember that I’m surprised so much more often than I’m disappointed and that the goodness in people (the god in people) is stronger than my fear and my doubt.

April 29

End of the Line

By iquillen

My first blog post this year talked about the idea of home, my mixed feelings about living so close to it, and a hope to make another hearth at Marsh Chapel and BU. It seems only fitting, then, that for my (pen)ultimate blogpost of the year I return to that notion. Only now, I turn to the broader area that has felt like home for so many years: the Greater Boston area. An experience from this past week reminded me that while I may know some things about the Boston area, I clearly don’t know everything.

On Monday evening, there was an end-of-year staff dinner in Somerville. I was taking a lab exam when most people had left, so I decided to take the T there instead. For those who have never been to Boston before, the T is the major subway network that connects numerous parts of Boston and the Greater Boston Area. It can be counterintuitive, confusing, and at times incredibly crowded and inefficient (especially before Red Sox games), but I always loved riding it when I was younger. And to this day, I still do. There are so many parts of it that remain unexplored, and Monday was my first time riding the Orange line alone. I thought that given my previous knowledge of the Green line and the T in general, I wouldn’t have too much trouble transferring to the Orange line and getting to the right stop.

I must have not thought this plan out entirely, or I seriously overestimated my geography skills. Either way, the outcome was definitely not what I expected.

The problems began when I noticed a few signs on the Orange line saying that the station I was looking for was under construction, and that there would be bus services to it instead. I know almost nothing about how the bus system works, so that option didn’t seem particularly reassuring. Instead, I got out earlier and started walking. I figured that I didn’t want to overshoot, and that if I walked long enough in the right direction, I should get to the right place. So went my thought process, and at the time it seemed reasonable.

Some things I did not consider in this plan: (1) The distance, (2) what I would do if I ran into a dead end or got lost, and (3) the environment I walking in. This last point is not meant to disrespect those who do live in Somerville. I just didn’t know the neighborhood that well, or at all really.

Eventually, I called Soren, and he managed to find me and bring me to where everyone else was. After dinner, he told me that the station I thought was closed had in fact been re-opened. He also said that when he found me, I wasn’t the only one on the sidewalk. There were three people approaching me at the time, which somehow didn’t register at all. These little details made me realize what should have been obvious: that my original plan was lacking at best, and a risky endeavor at worst. But this funny, humbling story in hindsight did teach me a number of things.

The first one reflects what I have encountered again and again this year while working at Marsh. Granted, what I gained from this experience was far more practical than theological, but it still applies to what I’ve tried to do in Interfaith ministry. I can’t presume to know everything about Christianity or United Methodism, things that feel incredibly familiar. I also cannot claim to feel entirely comfortable when thrown into personally uncharted territory, which happened a lot when I entered a new worship experience or spoke to people from very different faith backgrounds. Finally, I realized that I don’t always recognize things that should be obvious. Perhaps that speaks more to my lack of foresight in this instance than anything else, but it does happen to all of us at some point. And with all of these lessons, a few more especially come to mind now. First, I am learning, and always will be. Second, that I can make mistakes and have lapses in judgment. And I still need to reach out for serious help sometimes, and that’s OK.

I wish I could say that these lessons are deeply insightful. But I would suspect that common sense dictates many of them. Sometimes, though, even the most basic understandings need to be reminded, again and again. When trying to understand faith and the Divine, this is especially important. Because if we don’t have something we can agree on, how can we ever hope to grasp questions such as who or what the Divine is, and how a divine presence works in our lives? Whether I like it or not, I have to face these kinds of questions at some point, because my beliefs ultimately rest on them. Because my work at Marsh still has so much yet to be explored.  These questions mark the end of the line, the border between what is assumed and what is questioned and doubted. They are the end of the line between what is familiar and what is uncharted territory. While I may not answer all of these questions, I have at the very least begun to explore them. The end of the line feels much closer now, but I feel ready to move in the right direction to cross it. Hopefully this time, I will have a little more foresight and a better idea of what I am getting myself into.

April 29

God is an Elephant

By kmshultz

I have a habit of scrawling messages to myself on sticky notes. Usually it’s 11 pm and I’ve almost fallen asleep when suddenly my brain decides it’s going to be helpful—a thesis for that paper that’s due, a list of errands I need to run, an idea for a poem or a character in a novel, or ideas for what to write about in this blog. When I wake up the next morning and squint at the spiky, nearly unintelligible handwriting that pays no heed to the lines on the paper since I was too lazy to turn on the light, I wonder why I was so excited about the idea. Although I may have thought ‘spewing words from the ends of my hair’ was an edgy, ingenious line of poetry during my sleep-deprived delirium, the light of day tends to bring me back to some sort of sanity. So when I woke up to see the words ‘God is an elephant’ scrawled across the pink sticky note on my desk, I wasn’t entirely sure if I should start worrying about my mental health or turn it into a blog post. While the mental health bit is still on the table, I’ll settle for the blog post for now.
What prompted this late night epiphany equating the Divine to a pachyderm was thinking about how many religious conflicts and divisions have resulted out of people arguing about who or what God is and how we should relate to God. And, in my near-dream state, my mind immediately went to the story of the six blind men who are told to examine an elephant and describe what it is. Each man feels a different part of the elephant so one thinks it’s like a rope because they felt the tail and another thinks it’s like a pillar because they felt a leg and this continues down the line. Even though they all examined the same animal, they each experienced different aspects of it and came away with very different perceptions of what an elephant is. So if people who can’t see an elephant—a relatively small, tangible animal in the world—can come away with such drastically different understandings of it, how much more might we—who can’t see God—come away with drastically different understandings of God, who is neither small, tangible, nor solely in the world. And yet, we still think we know what God is and how God wants us to act.
Since none of us really have any idea what God is like and we can’t even definitively prove the existence of God, arguing that ‘our’ God is real while everyone else’s is false has always seemed pretty arrogant to me. If God can create the entire universe, something so massive and complex we don’t have the language to describe its massiveness and complexity, why should we be able to describe the creator of that universe? In some ways, I think that how we envision God says more about ourselves than it does about God. It feels like a ‘choose your own adventure’ where we each get to choose the God that we want to believe in. And that’s not necessarily a bad thing. I take great comfort in picturing a loving, forgiving God full of grace that cares for me and has called me by name. And other people find comfort in picturing a stern, austere God that requires some sort of penance in order to grant forgiveness. And, while it may not seem that way, these views don’t have to be in opposition. Someone else’s view of God may not resonate with me, but a world where everyone believes and thinks the exact same thing that I do wouldn’t be a very interesting one. Besides, no matter what else I may claim about God, I don’t think that God is one-dimensional, so it’s probably unrealistic to designate God as solely loving or solely austere or forgiving or vengeful.
So where does that leave me? Probably more confused than I was before and really glad that I’m almost done with this blog post because it’s making my head hurt. But I think it also opens up possibilities. Instead of viewing our interpretations of God as being at odds with each other and fighting about who is correct, we could instead engage each other in dialogue and learn from each other. Instead of assuming that we have experienced all of God that there is to experience, we could think outside ourselves and try to put our experiences in the context of the experiences of others. Just as an elephant is more than its legs or its tail, we should remember that God is probably more than words can describe and definitely more than any of us can grasp on our own. It might be good to scrawl a few messages on sticky notes to remind ourselves that maybe God is an elephant.

April 23


By kmshultz

Possibly my favorite psalm is psalm 8. Although the NRSV version is familiar and beautiful, my favorite version of the psalms comes from Eugene Peterson’s paraphrased version of the Bible, The Message:


God, brilliant Lord,

yours is a household name.


Nursing infants gurgle choruses about you;

toddlers shout the songs

That drown out enemy talk,

and silence atheist babble.


I look up at your macro-skies, dark and enormous,

your handmade sky-jewelry,

Moon and stars mounted in their settings.

Then I look at my micro-self and wonder,

Why do you bother with us?

Why take a second look our way?


Yet we’ve so narrowly missed being gods,

bright with Eden’s dawn light.

You put us in charge of your handcrafted world,

repeated to us your Genesis-charge,

Made us lords of sheep and cattle,

even animals out in the wild,

Birds flying and fish swimming,

whales singing in the ocean deeps.


God, brilliant Lord,

your name echoes around the world.


For one thing, it manages to include gurgling infants and singing whales, which, after reading this psalm for the first time, I realized are probably two of my favorite things. I also love that it is a psalm addressed “to the director of music”—it conjures images of a person conducting choruses of animals and symphonies of mountains and sky as all of creation sings praises to God. Above all, I love this psalm because it marvels at the wonder and majesty of creation, a sentiment that is especially apt this week in light of Earth Day.

In many ways, we have failed our Genesis-charge as we’ve polluted and killed and trampled and destroyed. When I think about climate change and everything that comes along with it—droughts in California, floods and hurricanes, the rapidly melting glacier a half a day’s walk from my home in Central Washington—I feel overwhelmed and discouraged. I look at my micro-self and wonder, how can I possibly do anything that can roll back the tide of incessant consumption? When I look at what we have done to this handcrafted world and remember that for some incomprehensible reasons God still loves us, I too ask, “why do you bother with us?” As much as I would rather believe in a God of love and forgiveness and grace, there are quite a few instances where Jonah’s God of brimstone and punishment makes a lot more sense.

But on days like Earth Day, I have a little bit of hope. Sometimes I tend to think of Earth Day with a little bit of skepticism. I think it’s great, but I also think it can be like only going to church on Easter—it’s a yearly obligation that you acknowledge and then the next day you step right back into your old routines and nothing has changed. But this week, in researching for this post, I read something on earthday.org that shifted my view. In its FAQ section, one of the questions was ‘Why do we need Earth Day?’ The response was as follows: “Because it works! Earth Day broadens the base of support for environmental programs, rekindles public commitment and builds community activism around the world through a broad range of events and activities. Earth Day is the largest civic event in the world, celebrated simultaneously around the globe by people of all backgrounds, faiths and nationalities. More than a billion people participate in our campaigns every year.”

Earth Day is something that is so much bigger than one person and can have such a massive impact. Getting one billion people to do anything in a coordinated way is a major accomplishment in and of itself and getting them to do something so positive is even more impressive. The individual actions might seem insignificant—picking up a few pieces of trash, posting an article about sustainability on facebook, or only eating locally grown foods for a day—but when those actions are repeated a billion times, they start to add up to something incredible. Earth Day joins together people from different religions, countries, and cultures to create a unified movement. Like the gurgling infants and singing whales in the psalm, each person brings their own voice and unique presence to the table and all those voices combine to create one unified song of joy and care for creation. I love Earth Day because it gives me hope that we can change, that we can take care of creation, that we can join our voices together with choruses of animals and symphonies of mountains instead of gradually silencing them, that we might be worthy of our Genesis-charge. Even if we’ve totally sucked at taking care of the world so far, at least we’re trying to make it better.

April 23


By cbjones8

As I sit and contemplate the impending chaos of the weeks to come, I find comfort in knowing that it will all be over soon.  Ironically though, I do not feel as stressed out as one might expect me to be.  I found, particularly over the weeks of Lent this year, that when I stress, nothing good comes, but rather letting it go gives me peace.  I spent the season of lent adding a special time of prayer to each day.  At first it was a chore, but it slowly began to bless me.  I learned that I can not only depend on God, but I can also depend on prayer.

I like to think that I pray a lot.  And I do, but mostly I talk.  Lent taught me to sit in silence with God, and listen.  There is a miraculous calm that I have found in that listening.  Even in the throws of final projects and the end of the semester I feel a sense of peace.

I might not always seem calm cool and collected, but compared to my level of stress in the past, I know I can handle this.

Perhaps there is something to the whole idea of laying one’s burden down.  I suppose I always thought my burdens were too trivial.  I am learning slowly that nothing is too trivial for God to care.  In that I find great comfort.

April 21

What we need is here

By iquillen

These next two weeks mark the end of a semester that seems to have sped by so quickly. Classes are beginning to wind down (or up, depending on the projects, papers, or exams that must be done) before finals. Easter came a few weeks ago, and spring seems to have come with it. It is hard to fathom that the piles of snow that once towered over street sidewalks have given way to grass, rain, warmth, and the flowering on trees.

Last week was also the Interfaith Fair, one of the largest events that the Interfaith Council puts on every year. It was refreshing to see students mingling with all of the different student groups present. The interactions and conversation I saw gave me hope: hope that communication and dialogue is possible, hope that people of different beliefs can coexist and accept each other. Now that the Fair is over and the end of the semester looms near, a thought has started nagging at the back of my mind: What now? How do we move forward to realize this hope?

This question was particularly poignant last Thursday, a day of remembrance for the victims of the Holocaust. I was standing next to Marsh Chapel with Soren for Common Ground Communion, as people stood up on the plaza to read the names of those who had died. The day was stunningly warm and bright, such an odd contrast to the solemnity of the names being read and remembered. Standing there, I wondered how people could have stood by and let people suffer persecution and death, and whether I would have acted any differently. Soren then pointed out to me the potential implications of serving communion right next to people remembering the Holocaust. In a way, we were standing by as others did at the time, witnessing horrific actions being committed.

As much as I want to bring about acceptance and dialogue between different traditions, there are still many obstacles to that process. One of them is figuring out how to move forward with events such as the Holocaust. Another is dealing with the persecution and violence that still continues today. One student during the Interfaith Fair stood up and read a spoken word poem about the victims of the Chapel Hill shooting. Her words reminded me that we are witnessing undue violence against our Muslim sisters and brothers. We see it far too often in the media, and we hear about it more than I can bear. But still, the question of what now and how to move forward lingers, and it grows to include the question: What can I do? What can we all do, for that matter? For it seems that advocating for one idea alone isn’t enough. That advocating for peace alone is insufficient to quell fighting. That advocating for dialogue alone will not make certain voices quieter, nor will it make other voices louder. That advocating for inclusion alone will not foster acceptance.

At times it feels like this question will have no answer, and that the struggle is without hope. But I heard the beginning of one last week at the Interfaith Fair. It came from an unlikely place, but it rang through clearly. At one point the Episcopalian group led a chant, with only the words “What we need is here.” The interesting part of this chant is that they encouraged everyone to chant in the tune and language that felt most comfortable. Even though the chant was full of dissonant melodies, discordant voices, and different languages, it still sounded beautiful. Something good can come out of the chaos in this world. While it might not come together cleanly or immediately, and we may have to look and listen to find it, what we need to move forward is here. Let us have the courage to witness it, stand up, and move toward it.

April 17

Doubt and Questions… And Taylor Swift

By cbjones8

This Past Sunday I was granted the Wonderful opportunity of Preaching at Old West United Methodist Church.  I wanted to share my sermon.  The written words may not be exactly what I said, but it is pretty close to it.

Growing up in the Church, hearing the story of Thomas was a pretty common occurrence, especially on the Sunday after Easter. Thank you revised common Lectionary.


I’ve always heard sermons about how Thomas’s doubting gives us permission to doubt. That Doubting is okay because it helps us grow in our faith. Without doubt, our faith is blind and has not stood the test of time. Doubt gives our faith the roots it needs to weather the storms of life. Doubt can absolutely be a good thing! Questioning our faith allows us to consider why we believe what we believe. It gives us space to work through issues, to talk to God and figure our hearts out.

Belief is hard, especially in this day in age where everything and everyone seems to be against the church.


Jesus said, blessed are those who have not seen and yet believe. Well bro, sometimes that’s a struggle. The world is against us Jesus knew that. John 15: 18 “18 “If the world hates you, be aware that it hated me before it hated you. 19 If you belonged to the world,[a] the world would love you as its own. Because you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world—therefore the world hates you.”


I mean let’s be real, this whole story, from crucifixion to resurrection to the promise of life ever lasting! It sounds way too good to be true, and that is most certainly what Thomas was thinking. Nuh uh he’s not back, he can’t be, that’s never happened before. No wonder Thomas couldn’t wrap his head around it. Not only was there the stress of Jesus potentially popping in or not, there was the stress of literally everyone else hating them. The Romans were convinced they would start an uprising. The High Priests hated Jesus with a Passion and by extension his followers…So Basically the disciples had each other, and they were terrified. I mean I would be too if my rabbi had just been brutally and publically executed and then I was left all alone….BUT JESUS CAME BACK!


The disciples probably had a conversation with Thomas that went something like this.

OH BRO YOU should have BEEN here! It was crazy we were just chilling in here talking about what to do now and like all the doors were locked cause you know everyone hates us, AND THEN JESUS SHOWED UP! Like poof, there he was in the room with us! Peter tell him what happened. Thomas was like Nah guys stop pulling my leg, until I touch the wounds in his hand, I don’t buy it. Then BAM Jesus was all, oh Bro, touch em’ and believe.

Thomas probably about near collapsed on the ground, and I would have too.


Thomas teaches us that a little bit of Doubt helps us find true meaning in our faith. Doubt also prepares us for the out side world.


Through out high school, people knew that I was a Christian, but I did not make a big deal of it. I was involved in Conference youth or CCYM, but I tried to keep that on the DL. There was a radical Baptist girl in my high school that everyone hated. She was anti-gay, she was anti-everything really. She would pull people aside, particularly in our drama club, and have “chats” with them, essentially telling them that they were going to hell and because she was our friend she needed to help us, not go to hell. She would write letters to us naming our sins Out of concern for our soul’s well being.

She was abrasive, often rude, superior, and over all obnoxious. Unfortunately she was the definition of Christian that all my peers held, and why I tried to hide Much like the disciples, in a room, with the doors locked. I wanted to stay as far away from that conception of Christianity as possible, after all I didn’t want people to hate me the way they hater her!


In hindsight this was pretty shallow of me, and however misguided, her intentions were sincere and honest. And maybe she was okay with the world hating her.


When we doubt, we often seek answers. It is that act of seeking answers that gives value to our questions. In this world, both in the time of the disciples and in today’s world, we as followers of Christ are going to encounter haters. Haters gonna hate. People are going to find it weird that we spend Sunday mornings, or Thursday nights worshiping a God that they can not see. People will question us and our beliefs. They will question our world view, and they are going to expect us to have answers. How on earth can we expect to have answers if we ourselves have never asked those questions?

Doubting gives us a place to have meaningful conversations with people who might not ordinarily ever talk about Christ in their lives.


Clearly Thomas’s doubt was understandable, as is our own. Jesus warned us that the world will be against us. Doubt is not the antitheses of belief. Questions lead to seeking answers. I have found in my life, the more I seek answers, the more I am led to follow God. I might not find the answers that I think I will, but my soul finds what it needs.


Jesus came back to ease our doubting and troubled hearts. God sent the Holy Spirit to help us search, and seek. The more we seek, the more questions, but the greater the longing to be close to Lord.


As Taylor Swift sings, Haters gonna hate hate hate, but I’m just gonna shake shake shake it off. Jesus’ resurrection gives us that strength and that confidence to shake it off. Thomas shows us that being human and having questions is most certainly okay. Jesus teaches us that there is faith to be had after the questions are asked. If it were easy, they wouldn’t call it faith.


Our job is to be rooted in our faith so that when people come asking questions, we do not let their unbelief deter our belief. We can be gracious, and loving, and open our hearts to them, but ultimately any negativity from the world against us, we just have to shake it off.