The Still-Missing "E"

Last Sunday, the worship service at St. Luke United Methodist Church revolved around the shootings at Delta State University on September 14. In the sermon I referred to a bracelet that I found in the sanctuary and wrote about in a blog post. I share that post again here, along with a live recording of Mumford & Sons' "Believe." Thank you all for your kind words on "The Crying Okra" and the continued prayers for the Cleveland community.

The Missing "E": April 23, 2015

In the St. Luke sanctuary, I forget to look down.

The brilliant stained glass window over the altar table draws even the most despondent eye upward. When I ask people what they see in the window, responses vary from ribbons to a globe, from grapes to wheat, from light to color. During the week, even though the church office has an entrance, I prefer the scenic route to work through the sanctuary. When I look into the stained glass and its mystery, the heaviness of life’s brokenness lifts. When I stand in its various shades of light, I know I am not alone.

 One morning this week, I especially needed the scenic route—not for myself but for the numerous prayer concerns that had come across my inbox and ears. I stumbled in the quiet aisle, distracted by the list in my head. My gaze fell from window light to floor dark. Nestled beneath a pew were six white beads with black letters, strung together in a semicircle.


I slipped the bracelet-in-the-making into my palm. I thought of the disciple, Thomas, who was one E short of being able to believe that Jesus had risen. I thought of the modern-day Thomases—both those who fill the pews and those who avoid the pews. This spark on the floor spoke as loudly as the window on the wall.

Sometimes we believe wholeheartedly.

Other times we feel like we’re one E short.

We believe up to a point, but then questions enter. Our minds race. Our thoughts crowd out our faith.

No greater blockade is there to joy than confusion. Yet how do we find joy when our circumstances raise endless questions, pressing decisions, and various outcomes—creating a windstorm of confusion?

I held this question in my heart as I walked under the window and towards my office. I placed the beaded arc in the center of my desk.

I opened the computer to choose music and saw this message on Twitter:

Pre-order the new album from Mumford & Sons and download their first single: “Believe.”

I stared at the screen. My excitement over a new album from a favorite band paled in comparison to the holy peace I saw in the complete word, “Believe.”

I looked up a You Tube recording of the song and listened.

 I don’t even know if I believe

I don’t even know if I believe

I don’t even know if I believe

Everything you’re trying to say to me…

 The words said little more than the incomplete bracelet on my desk, but they made sense. Marcus Mumford, the band’s lead singer, grew up in Vineyard churches but now avoids the label of “Christian.” That heritage is evident in the lyrics of their songs. Alongside the longings for faith are the realities of struggle.

Some of us long for definitiveness. We grow anxious when we don’t have all the answers we want. Mystery makes us nervous. The missing “E” distracts us. We crawl under pews to search for something that is not on the floor.

The word, “believe,” still appears incomplete on my desk, but I found that third “E” in a song. When we ask God for guidance, God replies. Sometimes we’re too busy looking in the wrong places that we miss the glorious answers.

 So open up my eyes

Tell me I’m alive…

 Mumford & Sons reminded me to pay attention both to the bracelet on the floor and to the window up above. The Father is in both places. Christ extends his scarred hands toward us from above & below. The Spirit speaks to us from the recording studio and in the St. Luke sanctuary. To believe is to risk moving forward without the third “E”—trusting and hoping that in Him we are indeed complete.

all good things to each of you,

Pastor Darian