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Archive for September 1st, 2019


Mark 9:24: Belief and Unbelief

September 1, 2019

This summer I participated with a group of women who explored their ideas about the enormity of God’s generosity. In a culminating session, we shared our thoughts on faith.

What do I believe? I believe in God, the Father Almighty, Creator of heaven and earth . . .

As a child, I struggled to understand why Yahweh hardened Pharaoh’s heart when he changed the ruler’s mind about letting Moses’ people go (Exodus 8:15). I still spend time as an adult remembering this story and I always end with the same two thoughts. 1) Life is a mystery, and 2) ancient and modern times consistently remind us that we are not in charge.

When suffering happens, we remember that God turns all harm to good. We remember the story of Jesus’ passion, death and resurrection, and we open our hearts to the Spirit. We forgive those who transgress against us and remember that . . . life is a mystery and we are not in charge.

I believe in Jesus Christ, God’s only son, our Lord, who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary, suffered, died and was buried . . .  

In Mark 9:24, a man whose son likely suffers from epilepsy encounters Jesus and asks for a cure for his child. When Jesus asks if he believes the boy will be healed, the father cries out “I believe; help my unbelief!” When we read another translation of this same verse, we hear again the boy’s father, “I believe. Help me with my doubts!” The world around us asks us to doubt much of what we hear with our own ears and much of what we see with our own eyes. We, like the boy’s father, might call to the Christ, “I do trust — help my lack of trust!” Or we might admit our human limits: “I do have faith, but not enough. Help me have more!”

Jesus is counter-cultural and lives on the edges of society and we can see that when we follow Christ’s example, we may find ourselves in opposition to family, colleagues and friends.  Our beliefs will surely be shaken. Our unbeliefs may grow. As we discover the complexities of our world, we understand that dual thinking will not serve us and so we learn that we will have to find a way to live with our beliefs and unbeliefs in constant competition with one another. And we will ask ourselves, what carries us forward? What halts our journey? What do we believe and how intensely do we believe it?

I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy catholic Church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting . . .

The Spirit of God, the Spirit of Christ, the Holy Spirit brings us comfort and joy when we need them most. The Spirit heals all wounds, and as we pass along the stories of these healings, we rejoice in God’s care and love, we celebrate Jesus’ presence and mercy in each moment of our lives. We encourage one another to show compassion to all, especially our enemies. We remind one another to keep hold of the gift of faith that God so generously bestows on us. And we collectively remember . . . Life is a great and wondrous mystery. We are not in charge and this is good. We believe in God the creator, Jesus the redeemer and their Holy Spirit the healer. This is what we hold in hope and faith. The writer of Hebrews tells us: (Hebrews 11:1) Faith is the realization of what is hoped for and evidence of things not seen.

In faith, we believe. In hope, we forgive, and in love we are healed and live again. This is what I believe.


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