Parson to Person: Keeping the faith
What does faith mean to you? According to the Merriam-Webster online dictionary, faith is a set of religious beliefs, a belief in the existence of God, and believing in or trusting someone or something. While it is good to believe in the existence of a higher power, I am struck more by the idea of trusting in someone or something. After all, without trust, accomplishing our goals and building relationships just isn’t possible.
What or whom do you trust? How has faith in that person or thing helped you achieve your goals and/or reconsider your views on life, love, our fellow human beings and the world we live in?
For Abraham, a character in the Old Testament, faith gave him the courage to leave his extended family, his home and everything familiar to him and travel to an unknown place with his immediate family and supplies for the journey. Nicodemus, a religious leader in Jesus’ day, used his faith by gaining the courage to defend Jesus in front of his peers and participate in burial rituals for Jesus after his death. Through the centuries, others have shown faith by trusting God as they protested unfair work conditions, unjust treatment of other people, and other such destructive practices impacting life in all its many forms. How has your faith helped you fight for causes you believe in, see the world in a new way or become a stranger in a strange land? How has your faith helped you engage the stranger in your context or expand your horizons?
As I journey through this season of Lent, the 40 days before Easter, I am reminded over and over again that change is possible and that God will be with me no matter what circumstances I find myself in. Having been a stranger in a strange land, I’ve learned to appreciate different cultures, realize that one person’s behavior doesn’t represent an entire culture and seek to include others as much as I can.
Hearing other people’s stories and seeing people fight for their beliefs teaches me to stand up for my beliefs and see issues from multiple perspectives. What changes has faith brought into your life? What will you do differently this week to deepen relationships with the people around you or respond to whatever new thing God is doing in your life? Will you seek to welcome the strangers in your midst by inviting them to share their experiences, celebrate their customs or help them learn more about the community you live in? Will you stand up for what you think is right, dare to do something new, or discover what it means to be a stranger in a strange land?
No matter what you decide to do, know that you are not alone and that God, or your higher power, will give you everything you need to continue on your journey. May God bless you now and forever. Amen.