This is a duplicate post from http://dougmullin.ca. Read more about Han Kyoul and his life there.
Faith is hard to maintain at times. I think of Abraham at 98 years, still waiting for the promised son that would come. How long did Abraham have to wait from the time the promise was given? We don’t know. Scripture says “By faith he received power of procreation, even though he was too old—and Sarah herself was barren—because he considered him faithful who had promised” (Hebrews 11:11, for those who want to look up the reference in context).
What do you do to maintain faith?
There was a widow who had 2 children. Her creditors were hounding her, threatening to take her children as payment. What an awful situation for a mother to find herself!
There was a wedding reception. The party was going strong, that is until the wine run out. What an embarrassing situation for the wedding planner! Not to say anything about the bride and groom.
Scarcity of money, scarcity of products. It happens to the best of us.
But what makes these stories remarkable is the ending of both.
The widow spoke to a prophet, who told her to collect empty jars and use her only jar of oil to fill the empties. She exercised faith and filled the empties. She ran out of oil when she ran out of empties. The prophet told her to sell the oil, pay her debts and live on the rest.
The wedding was also a miracle of empties being filled. And the servants who presented the wine to the chief steward, they really had to exercise faith that that they were presenting wine to him, rather than the water that filled the empties. It turned out the wine was better than the wine previously served at the wedding.
These two stories are found in 2 King 4 and John 2 respectively. They show the provision of God, in the exercise of the faith. The evidence of things not seen. It is the exercise of faith that was the job of the people involved in these stories. God’s job was the provision of just enough at the exact right time.
“Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen” Hebrews 11:1 (ESV)
I had been contemplating my One Word for the coming year. I had a vague feeling that it should be faith, but no real reason to affirm faith as my one word.
This is until today, New Year’s Day. You see, I am an Anglican and today being Sunday, the service for today is a special service called the Bishop’s Eucharist. I also have a recurring role in my church as verger, which means I set in order the table for Eucharist (Communion, as it is known to some). I look after the little details as it relates to the service. If you ever attend the Cathedral I serve, then the hymn numbers are there because I put them there.
With the Bishop’s Eucharist, it means that the Dean of Cathedral is not around. The Dean of the Cathedral is the Priest who pastors the Cathedral congregation. The Bishop of the Diocese celebrates the Eucharist for New Year’s Day. It’s really that simple. The Bishop’s Eucharist.
God is my great Verger in that he looks after the little details of my life. The Bishop preached on the verse in Hebrews that says “faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen” (KJV). I don’t need a club up the side of my head to know that my year is to be centred on faith.
Join me as I journey in faith, going deeper, searching what God is up to.
My One Word for 2012 Faith Journey is going to be recounted on my personal blog: Han Kyoul’s Musings, which is separate from the Justice Journey. I fully expected some cross-over, but will try not to duplicate posts if it can be helped.
This post is part of the community at http://oneword365.com/. Check out the others who are making their One Word resolution for 2012.
predictable worship? is here: http://www.liturgy.co.nz/blog/predictable-worship/2546
I was born and raised in a Pentecostal home, went to a Pentecostal Bible College, interested in Pentecostal ministry and missions work. I might have been fine in that but God had different plans. He challenged my faith by giving me an opportunity to become friends with a self-professed atheist. From my perspective I never expected to meet someone with a similar outlook on life but having come to that in a different manner than I. It challenged me that for my faith to grow, I need to challenge it daily. I set off on a voyage of exploration and discovery in my Christian faith that has recently culminated in my leaving my Pentecostal church for an Anglican Cathedral. I left for the fact that the Pentecostal worship was predictable, having been immersed in it since birth. I have settled into Cathedral life in the Sung Eucharist, even joining the choir. Yes, it is unpredictable for me, not having been immersed in the Anglican expression since birth.
However, being an outsider breaking into the Anglican expression gives me perspective on the worship I find in the Anglican tradition. I am of the belief that the Anglican liturgy has a richness of faith which encourages me to spiritual practice. I gladly get up in time be ready at 9am on Sunday to sing in the choir. I’ve given up other endeavours to make my way to Eucharist during the week (and have done so joyfully). At times in the Pentecostal church, I was simply disengaged at best and extremely cynical at worst. I did not want to go to church, and when I did, I did not want to be there.
Standing firm in the historical mainstream of the past 2000 years, growing a congregation is not about numerical growth by watering the message down or using marketing techniques to bring people into our congregation. What we need to do is SHOW LOVE to one another. If we are looking for numerical growth in our congregations, then we need to be showing LOVE to our communities around by us. There is a place for marketing and promotion, but not at the expense of the message. We should not falsely advertise what people will find in our congregations. We need to be real and authentic, both inside the congregation and in the community. People will be attracted to our love of God which we express through our love of neighbour.
Our faith is sufficient to carry us to the ends of the earth and back. I find the “rote, predictable and uninspiring” to be very inspiring. It is like an anchor, a reminder of the faith I was raised to believe. To dismiss the worship of any given service or congregation is to denigrate that congregation. I strongly believe that the Pentecostal church I left is a valid expression of worship for some and would gladly visit, now that I have begun the process of living a spiritual life of love from the heart, not the head.