Thursday, August 09, 2007

Certainty and Hope

Readings for Proper 14 -Year C - 12th August 2007

Isaiah 1:1, 10-20 and Psalm 50:1-8, 22-23
Hebrews 11:1-3, 8-16
Luke 12:32-40


Will we get to a point when we don't have to rely on faith any more?

Yes, but it is not now!
St Paul tells us that there are three great things(1)-Faith Hope and Love
and the greatest of these is love
And the hymn writer (2) reminds us
Faith will vanish into sight;
hope be emptied in delight;
love in heaven will shine more bight;
therefore give us love.

When all things are brought to completion, as God intends
there will be no need to have faith
because we will know
We will see what we have always hoped for
and we will no longer have to have faith
because we will know.

But we are not at that point
so the way we operate is as a person of faith
and we get a definition of that today in Hebrews 11

To illustrate that the writer tells us the story of Abraham
and Sarah
who received the promise of God
That they would be the ancestors of a great people…
they had no evidence of this
indeed rather the contrary, they were both old
and it seemed unlikely.
So the challenge of faith for them

was to believe
rather than to know or to prove
Faith, is assurance without fact
Being convinced of what we are promised even though we don’t have the evidence.
In fact it is the way that the life of God operates.
The criticism that faith is ‘unscientific’ is true
--it is not meant to be
we have faith where we cannot prove.
If we can prove, or see
then why do we need to have faith.
This is not to say that because we do not have evidence
then we are talking nonsense
or we are lying
we are saying we are not in the scientific realm at all
we are in the life of faith.
And we assert that the life of God
is about faith
not of proof.

This should not be a surprise to us
there are a lot of things that are about faith
rather than fact
and most of them are pretty important.
Chief amongst these is love
Love is not about evidence, facts and measurements
---we don’t say if there are three out of five characteristics (faithfulness, children, laughter, sharing pain, cooperation) and/or
--if a relationship has lasted longer than 15 months and/or
--if after three break ups the couple are still together
then they are in love

that would be absurd
The substance is actually not measurable
and is at least as much about what we can’t count
as what we can count.
Our life in God falls in this same sort of area.
More than this, we would say
this is what makes this relationship so powerful;
So the example of Abraham tells us about keywords:
Like trust, promise, hope, vision and aspiration.
The journey of faith is about implementing
these realities.
Indeed these realities cannot be manufactured
(we can’t go to the shop and buy them!)
it is only by a journey of faith
that they can be realised in our lives.

We see this journey chiefly in Jesus
It is the journey that will confront everything that destroys us
and will give us the power to be born anew and to come through the experience of death
not just at life’s end
but in every aspect of our life.
So faith is a pretty important journey!!

Is it a journey you are prepared to make?
Where is God inviting you to step out beyond the bounds of certainty
and walk in faith?
It is not an easy decision
but it is the decision that is set before us.
Will we walk by faith and live?
Or will we stumble by our own limited sight
and die?
Where is God inviting you to step out beyond the bounds of certainty
and walk in faith?
1. 1 Corinthians 13
2. Bishop Christopher Wordsworth 1862 - Gracious Spirit Holy Ghost

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