Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them. When they saw him, they worshipped him; but some doubted. And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
The disciples who came to the mountain had been through numerous adventures and encounters with Jesus, so on that mountain in Galilee, what did they doubt?
Did they doubt Jesus’ message? Ability? Authority?
Did they doubt the wisdom of the task which lay ahead?
Did they doubt their own ability?
Perhaps all of the above.
The mountain was a liminal place, with endings and new beginnings. For the community of his disciples tasked to share his good news with the whole world, it was the end of the resurrected Jesus appearing physically amongst them and the start of living with Jesus in a new way. The future without a physical Jesus must have felt very daunting and their calling to be his tasked community, could have seemed overwhelming. I am amazed that only some doubted!
Jesus spoke to their doubt by inviting them to see things not from a place of scarcity but abundance.
Just as for those first disciples and for many of our URC ancestors, so we find ourselves marking our 50th Jubilee amidst times which may seem daunting and overwhelming. The Covid pandemic has changed us and rapidly crystallised many of our institutional challenges. We are emerging into a world with much uncertainty. Do we too at times find ourselves doubting Jesus’ message or wisdom, or our ability as a church to be transformed, or the hope of our world being transformed? When we do, I trust that Jesus invites us to see things from his perspective of abundance. He speaks to our doubt, saying “I’ve got this! There is nothing in all creation which can stop or extinguish the message, the way, the hope which I have shown you. So, have confidence in me and step out there to share with the whole world what I have shared with you. And even when you can’t see me, know that I am always with you.”
Holy One, Open my mind and heart… To live from abundance. To trust in Jesus’ message of God’s unconditional love for all. To be transformed and share in God’s work transforming our world. Amen
The Rev’d Fiona Bennett, Moderator of General Assembly, Minister Augustine URC, Edinburgh.