Updated: Jul 9, 2019
As young children, we are taught to share - and most of us become good at it. We share our “time, talents and treasures” gladly, yet we do not share our tales. Most of us have experiences in our lives about how God has carried us through difficult times, transformed us into people who live out God’s word and seek God’s will in our lives. We would point to our faith as the most important gift we have ever been given, yet we are reluctant to share it!
As we seek to re-develop, re-form and re-energize our congregation, it becomes imperative that we share our stories of who God is and what God has done in our lives. During the month of June, the Sunday morning adult Bible study focused on what this would mean for us. In a safe space, we practiced putting words to what we hold so deeply and centrally to our lives. One week, we discussed the question, “What is faith?” In The Heart of Christianity , theologian Marcus Borg describes what we mean by faith in four different aspects. Faith as assensus focuses on having the correct beliefs. Beginning in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, the definition of orthodox changed from right worship to right belief. With the Enlightenment, factuality became the way to measure whether something was true, so faith began to be focused on believing the right facts.Faith as fiducia is about our radical trust in God. It is not trusting in a set of doctrines, but in Godself. Kierkegaard compared this to floating in seventy thousand fathoms of water. If you tense up and thrash about, you will eventually sink, but if you relax and trust, you will float. This is floating in God’s love and grace. Faith as fidelitas focuses on our faithfulness to our relationship with God. This is a radical centering in God. This is not faithfulness to statements about God, but faithfulness to the God to whom the Bible, creeds and other doctrines point. This is epitomized in living out the first commandment.Faith as visio focuses on a way of seeing the world. Rather than seeing the world as life-threatening or indifferent toward us, faith as visio sees everything as life-giving and nourishing. It sees God and reality as gracious and generous. This is seeing the abundance in the world, not in terms of scarcity. I share these to help us think about the different ways to share our faith. The prevalent use of the word faith often focuses on assensus , which is hard to share because we are afraid that people will ask us questions we cannot answer or that we need to make sure someone believes “properly.” Instead, when we share the other aspects of faith, they present a more compelling story. Since they require a story from your own life, you are the expert - you are the one who tells your story best! Across several weeks, we told each other our stories of faith and looked at different situations where we could open up a conversation about faith. We discovered that it requires a willingness to be open and vulnerable, but when we were able to do that, we felt a deep connection and others were also willing to be vulnerable with us! In a world where so much is lived on the surface, many people long to see the real part others and to know that they are not alone in their struggles and joys. The final opportunity given to the class is to practice telling stories of faith to the congregation. I invite you to consider how you could accept this challenge. For many of us, we connect music to our faith and experiences of God. Do you have a favorite song that has provided a deep connection to your life of faith? Perhaps it was a song that compelled you to step out of your comfort zone and serve God. Or maybe it was a song that reminded you of God’s presence as you felt alone and abandoned. If you have a story that you would like to share, please send me an email with the name of your favorite hymn/worship song and your story about it. Through the rest of this year, if we sing that song, you will have an opportunity to share your story with the congregation, practicing telling your stories of faith among a loving and encouraging group. It is by sharing these stories with those who matter to us that we can share our most precious gift with the world - the gift of salvation, wholeness and renewal through Jesus Christ. And who wouldn’t want to know that? In the abiding hope of the Risen Lord, Pastor Lecia