given on Sunday, October 4, 2009
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With all the business of everyday living over- whelming me this week, I found myself struggling. I could not come up with a theme or an idea or a verse or even a hymn to use for today’s service. Then Wednesday night, while following my nightly routine, I read the introduction for the Guidepost reading. For six days, the topic was based on thoughts concerning faith that evolved from a small car accident.
The idea that even a car accident could connect to one’s faith in God started bubbling up in my mind and I woke up the next morning thinking how fascinating it is to see faith in something that some might use to question faith. Faith is everyday. Faith is getting up in the morning and seeing the sunrise. Faith is putting on you favorite pair of jeans.
The secret of faith is that it sneaks into your life maybe as simply as being born into a Christian family which says a blessing at each meal, makes Sunday a day of rest beginning with Sunday school and worship. For so many of us, our faith began that quietly and we just lived our lives learning that God is everywhere, in everything, in good events and in bad events. Faith begins as just part of our everyday existence and we see no reason to question it.
Yet for others, faith comes in a life-changing event. They are born into a family where God is missing. They live each day struggling to find out who they are. The cynics debate with the believers about the origins of mankind, the structure of the universe, and see the bad as evidence that there is no God. They fail to see faith in others because they are so clouded with everyday drama that God cannot do anything for them but shed tears.
I remember a conversation with my dad many years ago. I cannot remember the circumstances, but he was concerned why he had never had an eye-opening, Aldersgate-type epiphany or Christ-awareness moment in his life. Now at that time I was far from understanding my calling into ministry, Mom was fighting her cancer, and I had two young children not to mention a marriage and a fulltime job. Yet that conversation probably was a very definite “God moment.” I certainly did not have any wisdom to share with my dad or Biblical references to rely on, but I did have the Holy Spirit as I now understand. I told Dad that it did not matter whether he had one of those dramatic experiences because he was living his faith.
See Dad always believed. He always said grace at each and every meal we had. He knew God through the seasons of farming and his compassion for the cattle he raised. He had always lived in a family who went to church every Sunday, so we went to church every Sunday. He lived everyday with his faith. He lived every single day knowing God was a part of his universe.
As we talked, he also told me that he did not understand why he could be driving along making his deliveries, listening to the radio, hear a story and begin crying. My dad had no idea that he was experiencing the Holy Spirit in those moments. At those quiet moments rolling down the roadways, he was listening with God as his filter. He was using his faith everyday and did not even realize it. The Holy Spirit was helping him pray for those in need. The tears were God’s tears as he saw the pain and the agony of his children.
Faith is everyday. We live our days knowing God is walking right there with us. We see the world through God’s eyes. We witness the sunrises and sunsets knowing God is with us. We experience the change of seasons with anticipation for all the glory that we see. We see the leaves change their colors and the late flowers bloom. We see the snowflakes gather on the side of the road. We see those first daffodils pop open in the bright sunshine. We sit out under the summer night skies and watch the stars, listen to the coyotes in the distance, and we know the promises of God.
Faith is everyday. When we are placed in those awful moments in our lives where it seems everything is falling apart, faith is still present. Unfortunately we sometimes forget. Knowing Mom had cancer meant knowing there was a battle ahead. I do not think it ever occurred to me during the first six months or more that Mom, we, could lose the battle. Instead it simply meant that we were going to have to work through it like so many other life-changing, or should I say life-challenging, events.
Mom’s faith was different than Dad’s. I always seemed to know that Mom’s was an active one. She talked about it. She demonstrated it openly, not just in the house, but in the community. I do not know if she ever had an epiphany of any type, I just know that the challenges she had worked through over her lifetime kept her faith active everyday of her life. The cancer was just one of those experiences you had to work through.
Everyday during that battle, Mom turned to her faith. She spent many hours reading and making notes in her Bible during the last months of her battle. She found joy in the grandchildren even though she really could not play with them. She thrilled at the glory of God’s natural world. She shared her faith with the many, many friends and family members who circled around her—often expressing confusion over how could this be happening.
Faith is everyday for everybody everywhere in the world. I look outward to the people who wrap around this globe. Christianity began in the area that seems so small today. Yet the message of that one baby, who was born and grew up right there among his people, living his faith everyday, talking and sharing his wisdom with the children as well as the elders at the synagogue, simply grew everyday every where until it wrapped around the globe. The complex faith of the Israelites might have smothered Jesus’ message, but that model of faith and how it can operate on one simple rule—love one another– became a wildfire.
While reading I Corinthians 11, I saw something I had not seen before. I first read verses 17-22 and could not understand why Paul sounded so angry and why the church would be acting like that. I read the words with my understanding and experience of communion today. I failed to evaluate the culture of Paul’s world. The young church was struggling to blend the old customs of eating and drinking during a meal with the new custom of a Christian ritual representing, reconnecting to Jesus. Paul’s job was to teach how faith was lived everyday with new customs.
When you return to reading the passage, you realize that Paul was teaching so those first verses were reporting what problems he was hearing about the new practice of communion. Today we are joining Christians around the world in communion. The table is global, the faith is the same, but the cultures are different. The seasons are different. The environment is different. The sanctuaries are different. The elements are different. The faith is not.
Everyday, everywhere, everybody who follows Christ knows how faith makes life wonderful. Faith is everyday. every where, and for everybody whether in your family or for someone living on the opposite side of the globe. Faith can be quiet or faith can be loud. Faith can be private or can be public. Faith is everyday, as comfortable as the sun shining on your face. Faith is everyday, as comfortable as the easy chair is in your living room. Faith is everyday, as comfortable as leaning over the fence in your yard talking to your neighbor.
As we move to the practice of communion, we see faith connecting us in this holy space to those everywhere at this moment also joining in the holy feast. We return to the very beginning of our faith. We sit at the Lord’s Table right there with the apostles, their friends, and Jesus. We are all following our everyday routines not knowing that tonight what our people have prophesied for thousands of years is about to unfold before our very eyes. We are simply having a meal and relaxing.
The original Lord’s Supper was a pivotal point in the development of Christianity. Today, we are so used to our faith and our practices that we may not fully embrace the experience of the apostles. They were stepping out to lead others into the New Covenant. When Jesus stood up and asked for their attention, he asked them to commit themselves to continue leading others to live their faith. He wanted them to know that faith in God would support them every day; and every time they broke bread together as Christians, they were to remember him.
Faith is everyday. Your faith has brought you into the church today and it will go out the doors with you. You are invited to join at the table along with the millions of other Christians who also actively life their faith everyday.
Our faith in you is so comfortable. Our faith is quiet and secure within us, but we know that around this earth, others struggle. May they find peace and security in their faith. The faith we have helps us to hear all that occurs in and around the world with a prayer in our hearts. May our tears be your tears as we model our faith among the others in our community. May our actions and our behaviors mirror those of your teaching. May we be filled with the Holy Spirit as we join in communion with each other here today and other believers around this world. –Amen