Doubt, Faith, and the Seventh Sunday of Easter

Our Bible study at Barnett’s Pub last night was amazing. The conversations, insights, and prayers around those pub tables continue to inspire me as I see the work of the Holy Spirit right in front of me.

"Do not leave us comfortless"

Last night we spent a good deal of time reflecting on the Ascension of Jesus. In the Acts of the Apostles, Jesus promises his disciples that they will be filled with the power of the Holy Spirit. (Check out yesterday’s post for more on that.) Then Jesus  is “lifted up” and a “cloud took him out of the disciples’ sight” (Acts 1:9).

So we’re left in a weird place – Jesus has ascended, but his disciples haven’t yet received power from the Holy Spirit. We, as Episcopalians, recognize this void. In the Church calendar, Ascension Day is celebrated forty days after Easter (or ten days before Pentecost). This means that there is always one Sunday a year, the Seventh Sunday of Easter, that takes us to this unsettled place.  We can no longer see Jesus, and we also feel that we haven’t yet received the full power of the Holy Spirit.

This describes much of our spiritual lives. We are unsettled, unsure, feeling as if God is far removed and always delaying His return. In times of doubt, which all of us have (including myself), we are left wondering – is God really there? And if so, have we been abandoned? These are not questions to be ashamed of. Rather, they should be taken seriously and prayerfully.

When, not if, you are struggling with fear and doubt, I ask you to reflect on living as if it is the Seventh Sunday of Easter. Hope is coming – it is right around the corner. Do not fear – take heart, our Savior comes with healing. Though you may not feel it now, our Lord will not leave us orphaned.

“O God, the King of glory, you have exalted your only Son Jesus Christ with great triumph to your kingdom in heaven: Do not leave us comfortless, but send us your Holy Spirit to strengthen us, and exalt us to that place where our Savior Christ has gone before; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, in glory everlasting. Amen.”

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