I Don’t Have Pride In My Faith
This weekend I had the honor of being one of the speakers at the “Pride in Faith” worship gathering, capping off “Polk Pride” my rather conservative county’s first ever pride event! Here’s what I said:
I am grossly under-qualified to speak today about pride in faith.
First of all, I’m straight. I’m a straight, white, cisgender male.
I’m pretty sure you’ve heard enough about faith from straight, white, cisgender dudes.
But here we are. So I think instead of talking about my pride in faith, I’ll talk a bit about my doubt.
Because, honestly, I don’t have much pride in my faith. It’s never really been tested. I’ve grown up in church, always believed, always followed, always taken faith for granted. I’ve always been fully accepted. Always fully known. After all, I’m a straight, white, cisgender dude, right? My faith has never been tested, until recently.
Earlier in this week I spent two days with a crowd I never thought I’d find myself in – much like this group this morning. It was a two day conference for those of us who have been asking questions we aren’t allowed to ask. Who find ourselves feeling like we’re on the outside looking in. Most Christians get really uncomfortable about doubt. As if it’s a terrible disease they can catch if they hang around others who have it.
I have found myself unable to say the right words, sing the right songs, and go through the right motions. And this has caused me to doubt my faith.
But the great thing about our God is that doubt doesn’t scare him.
On Resurrection Sunday, according to the gospel of John, Jesus only appears to one person. What we hold as the greatest moment in history and Jesus only reveals himself to one woman – Mary Magdalene. And he left her the responsibility of reporting back to the disciples that the guy they buried was no longer dead.
I think we often imagine the time after Jesus’s resurrection as a return to the good old days. Jesus and the 12 eating and hanging out – laughing at old stories.
But John tells us that it wasn’t till the evening of the next day that he appeared to the men. So Jesus was okay with his closest followers hanging in doubt for over a day.
Imagine the conversations they must have had in that time. After all, most of them didn’t even stick around to see Jesus’s death. Is he risen? Did he even die? What happened? What have we given our lives to? Why is he making us wait? Have we wasted the past few years? Am I living a lie? Have we given up everything for nothing?
Jesus is not afraid of doubt. He waits at least a day, then appears to the disciples. Except one of them wasn’t there that day, and didn’t see or believe Jesus had risen for over a week! We give this guy a hard time calling him doubting thomas, but again, Jesus didn’t seem to mind. He even went so far as to grant Thomas’ request to touch his nail marks.
Jesus tells Thomas in John 20:29, “You believe because you see, but blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”
It seems that we have a God who embraces the doubters even though the religious reject them. This is the kind of God who embraces all sorts even though the religious reject them.
I may not have pride in my faith, but I have found pride in the most unexpected places lately.
I have found pride in the acceptance I’ve found from those of you the rest of the church has rejected.
I’ve found pride in the hours you spend listening to and caring for the youth working through the most difficult to navigate time of their lives.
I’ve found pride in the way you serve those in your church communities who will take your tithes and grunt work but still see you as less than.
I’ve found pride in the way your have not given up on a church that has given up on you.
I’ve found pride in the way I watch you care for the fatherless, the widow and the orphan. In the way you serve the least of these – of which I consider myself a member.
And in that pride, I find my faith. I find faith that there is hope. I find faith that love is strong. I find faith that love wins.
I want to thank you for keeping the faith. Thank you for fighting the fight.
Thank you for having pride in your faith, and know that I have rediscovered my faith in your pride.
St. Therese of Liseux Prayer from “Story of A Soul”
May today there be peace within.
May you trust God that you are exactly where you are meant to be.
May you not forget the infinite possibilities that are born of faith.
May you use those gifts that you have received, and pass on the love that has been given to you.
May you be content knowing you are a child of God.
Let this presence settle into your bones, and allow your soul the freedom to sing, dance, praise, and love.
It is there for each and every one of us.