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Not all who *wonder* are lost.

What nagging questions or doubts do you have about faith?

This was the question that launched us into a new season of Local Tables last week — one in Briar Chapel and one in Pittsboro, each filled with new friendships, holy conversation, and tacos.

This summer, we’re pondering how God shows up through ordinary people in ordinary situations. At each Local Table, we’re exploring one seemingly ordinary person from the Bible who informs our own extraordinary journeys of life and faith.

Last week, we talked about the Woman at the Well. Read the story here. We explored how Jesus found himself talking to this Samaritan woman — something his disciples couldn’t believe — and how Jesus really saw the woman and knew her deeply. In the story, following their interaction, the woman goes back to the city and describes what she’s experienced in her encounter with Jesus. But at the very end of her witness, she exclaims, “He can’t really be the Messiah, can he?”

At that, those who heard the woman’s story and, in particular, her question went back to see Jesus for themselves.

There’s a widely-held notion that being a Christian is about having the right answers or that our belonging is contingent on the certainty of our faith. But I love this story because it’s not the woman’s certainty that sends people to Jesus; rather, it’s her question.

St. Anselm, an eleventh-century Christian theologian, said that ours is a “faith seeking understanding.” I love this. What if faith is not about having the right answers but instead about asking good questions? Perhaps along the way, in pursuit of understanding, we discover more questions that lead to deeper truth, find ourselves closer to the heart of God, and realize we’re not alone. 

After our Local Table last Monday in Briar Chapel, I got an email from someone who attended, telling me that our conversation reminded him of this passage from Letters to a Young Poet by poet, Rainer Maria Rilke:

I want to beg you, as much as I can, dear sir, to be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and to try to love the questions themselves like locked rooms and like books that are written in a very foreign tongue. Do not now seek the answers, which cannot be given you because you would not be able to live them. And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps you will then gradually, without noticing it, live along some distant day into the answer.

This is what we do at Local Tables. And this is what makes our time so special. We’re loving questions, living questions, finding common ground, and Jesus is there in it all.

Want to read more? Add this essay, "Doubt as a Sign of Faith" by Julia Baird, to your reading list. Read it here. Here's a highlight:

The Southern writer Flannery O’Connor said there was “no suffering greater than what is caused by the doubts of those who want to believe,” but for her, these torments were “the process by which faith is deepened.”

And while you read, if you want to give your questions a soundtrack, I recommend “Help Me Believe” by Strahan (Listen on Apple Music • Spotify • YouTube). Strahan is from New Zealand and describes himself as a modern-day folk psalmist. How cool is that?

Here are the dates of our next Local Tables. I'd love to see you! As always, all are welcome, and dinner and childcare are provided. Full details here.

Pittsboro Area Local Table
Thursday, July 5 at 6 pm
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Add all dates to your calendar.

Briar Chapel Area Local Table
Monday, July 9 at 6 pm
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Add all dates to your calendar.

Brent LevyComment