Hebrews 11 is all about faith. It starts out with that famous description “Faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” Faith, in this chapter, is something that is seen in everyone from Abel, to Enoch, to Noah, to Abraham, to Moses, to Rahab, and many more – “who though they were commended for their faith, did not receive what was promised, since God had provided something better, so that they would not, without us, be made perfect” (Hebrews 11:39-40).
A dictionary definition of faith is: “complete trust or confidence in someone or something.” When I went to our hymnbook, I found under the keyword, “faith,” such diverse hymns as “Lord, I want to be a Christian;” “Come, Labor On;” “Faith Begins by Letting Go;” “Lift Every Voice and Sing;” “O Savior, in this Quiet Place;” “We’ve Come This Far by Faith.”
But what is this thing we call faith? I’m pretty sure it means more to us than what the dictionary stated: “strong belief in God or in the doctrines of a religion, based on spiritual apprehension rather than proof.” I’m also pretty sure that it takes on different hues and shapes depending on our personal experiences of life and life with God. The more I thought about it, the more I agreed with the writer of Hebrews who created a whole litany of who, and how, and what, and when, in trying to describe Faith. It isn’t just one thing. It isn’t easy to capture. You might know it when you see it. You might have to have it pointed out to you. And so I decided, that in the great Presbyterian tradition of hearing the Spirit through a multitude of voices, we would take some time today to think and talk about Faith—in general and in our lives.
To help jumpstart the conversation, I’ve pulled out some pieces of Scripture that have something to do with faith. Each one of you has gotten a slip. I invite you to find two or three other people to chat with—take a moment to read your Scriptures to each other, and then share some thoughts—maybe about a Scripture that captured your attention, maybe about a faith experience that you have had, or maybe a question about faith you have always wanted to ask. Then I will gather us back and see if we have anything we would like to share.
Some final thoughts about faith. It is a gift, given to us in different measures, but given to all of us as part of our reflection of the image of God. For in the hymnbook, right after the section on Faith, comes the section, Faithfulness—as in God’s Faithfulness. “Great Is Thy Faithfulness” we have all sung. “Morning by morning, new mercies I see. All I have needed thy hand hath provided. Great is thy faithfulness, Lord, unto me.”
For all of our thoughts and deeds, all our mountaintop experiences and comfort in the midst of despair and even moments of searing doubt, faith has something to do with being in relationship with the One who is Always Faithful. And Faith is something that links us to those who have gone before, and those who will come after, as well as those who we stand by in this time and place.
may it govern our lives;
may we have it in abundance;
and may it prod us to an even deeper relationship
with Jesus. Alleluia, Amen.