Thursday, November 12, 2015

Steadfast Faith

Almighty and everlasting God, in Christ you have revealed your glory among the nations: Preserve the works of your mercy, that your Church throughout the world may persevere with steadfast faith in the confession your Name... (BCP, 235)

As he prepared for his final trip to Jerusalem where he would be tried and executed, Jesus worked to prepare his followers for the crisis they would experience at his crucifixion. Knowing that they wouldn’t be able to connect the horror of the crucifixion to God’s plan of salvation for the whole world, Jesus instructed his followers to set their minds on the things of heaven, not on the things of earth; to remember that God is always God, author of the universe and counter of the hairs on their heads.

Keeping alive works of mercy is what God does and God chooses to do it through the Church – which is us. Steadfastness is in God’s nature. We are adaptive creatures who can, by the grace of God, be steadfast at times.

For most of us, when we hit a wall, we’ll quit bashing our heads against it after a while and find another way to go. Wasn’t it Albert Einstein who said, “the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results”?

The alternative path we devise may be right and good or simply the assertion of our will into the landscape of God’s plan. The challenge is knowing which is which. Was the alternative path born from individual and corporate discernment? Was it devised by one, a few, or the body? Does it open the way to freedom and peace? Does it build up the body of Christ in harmony and unity? Are eyes being opened and hearts set on fire with the love of God in Christ? Is that love reaching out and touching the hungry, needy, imprisoned, and outcast?

The world misunderstands, Jesus said, “but it is not so among you.” (Mk 10:43) When Christians act, we do so remembering our Savior and the way of living he demonstrated. We remember his self-sacrificing love, humility, and meekness. We remember his saber-sharp truth-telling to corrupt religious and worldly authorities. We remember his gentleness and welcoming stance to the exiled, outcast, and unimportant. We remember his determination to feed the hungry and heal the afflicted. We remember that he prayed, and taught us how to pray. (Lk 11: 2)

Like the disciples, we don’t have the understanding necessary to connect each present moment with the overall plan of salvation. We can’t know this. Not even someone as smart as Einstein could know it; but God knows, and God asks us to persevere in faith, loving one another as we journey on, upholding one another in the faith that God will bring about redemption from every crucifixion we face – which, for Christians, is a daily experience.

Every day we are called to die to ourselves, to put what we think and what we want behind us and follow God’s leading. It isn’t easy, and Jesus knows that because he did it first. That’s why he promised to be with us always, (Mt 28:20), locating himself within us, making us temples of his Holy Spirit. (1Cor 3:16)

As we journey on together, ‘May we be made strong with all the strength that comes from Jesus’ glorious power, and may we be prepared to endure everything with patience, while joyfully giving thanks to the Father, who has enabled us to share in the inheritance of the saints in the light.’ (Col 1:11-14, adapted to 3rd person)

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