August 8, 2010

Isaiah 1:1, 10-20 Hebrews 11:1-3, 8-12 The eleventh chapter of the book of Hebrews begins with a definition of faith: The King James Bible translates it this way: “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” The New International Version says, “Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.” Eugene Peterson’s paraphrase “The Message” puts it like this: “The fundamental fact of existence is that this trust in God, this faith, is the firm foundation under everything that makes life worth living. It’s our handle on what we can’t see.” At our church membership class two weeks ago, I asked those present to think about what it might mean to be a person of faith. I asked them to think about what the characteristics of a person of faith might be… and these were some of the answers: hope, trust, generosity, kindness, commitment, steadfastness, humility, patience, joy. But before I asked them to define faith, I invited them to think of a person they know whom they think of as a person of faith. Maybe someone in their life today, maybe someone they once knew, maybe someone they don’t even know personally, but who serves as an example of faith for them. That’s what the author of Hebrews does as she tries to explain to the Christians of her day what it means to live in faith and trust in God. She begins … Read more »

August 15, 2010

Isaiah 5:1-7 Hebrews 11:29-12:2 Luke 12:49-56 When I was 15 years old, I stood up at the front of the Presbyterian church that I had attended with my family for nearly ten years. I stood up with a couple of other young people to publicly profess my faith in God for the first time, and to declare my intention to live my life as a follower of Jesus. It was an especially memorable moment for me because I was also baptized on that day. As the water was poured, the baptismal words were spoken, and the choir sang the Aaronic blessing over me, I experienced an overwhelming sense of belonging. I belonged to a community. I belonged to a church family. I belonged to the God who had made me and loved me. I don’t really remember what we talked about in the membership class at the church as we prepared to make our professions of faith. Probably it was much of the same material that we cover today in our classes… God, Christ, the Holy Spirit, the Church, the Bible, discipleship, worship, prayer, service, mission, stewardship, and all of that. We likely discussed many or most of those things, but one thing that I’m pretty sure we didn’t talk about was the idea that what I was deciding to do with my life was going to be challenging. I don’t remember thinking about NOT going through with it. I don’t remember feeling nervous or scared, or even apprehensive about … Read more »