Summer is arriving! Even if at times the season feels less “summertime” and more “crisis-time.” I try to pay attention to the news, and it sometimes seems like a competition: “which story should I feel most concerned about today?” What’s happening in our government? With China? Iran? Against women? People of color? Immigrants? Our environment? I go about focused on what I need or what my family needs or what our church needs. I forget: it’s the world that needs something from us! How do we stay engaged? Show that we care? What can we do to give people hope?
You do a lot – through your hard work, your time, your giving. Also, through faith. We might say that above all – or maybe, beneath it all – what’s need from us is faith. That may not sound right. When we hear the word “faith” our first thought might be “pick what side you’re on in religious conflict – are you with the Christians, or their enemies?” The word “faith” might bring to mind “private opinions, naval gazing delusions that won’t help anyone.”
But Jesus talks about a faith that moves mountains. He said – in a passage we’ll hear this Summer – “ask and you shall receive, seek and you shall find, knock and the door will be opened to you.” Lutherans talk about faith as a positioning of the heart that makes all the difference. “Continue to live your lives in Christ,” we’ll hear in another reading, “rooted and built up in him and established in the faith.” I think of the strong roots of the oak trees around us. Faith itself isn’t the power (even if the placebo effect is very real …), God is, and the Living God works in and for and through us.
“Faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen,” says the author of Hebrews – in yet another passage we’ll hear – in August. I’ve gotten in the habit of doing a short preaching series each Summer. At this point I’m thinking I’ll take on the topic of faith as a (lectionary) preaching theme during August. More details will come soon. Additionally, some of us are reading a short work by Luther on faith and will have a couple of discussions – let me know if you’re interested!