A favorite Scripture for me is from Ephesians 2: 8-9, “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God – not by works, so that no one can boast.” (NIV)
As I reflected on this passage, I once again experienced both peace and relief that it is Almighty God who has given me (and us) this gift and it’s not on me (or us) to somehow “find” faith. Even so, I found myself being sobered by the difference between the perfection of the gift itself and my use of it. It seems to me that faith can’t be left unattended on auto pilot. Faith must, with God’s help, be fed, reinforced and sustained. Just as one thought gives rise to another, I reflected on how to “exercise” faith. The most obvious, but not exclusive, methods for me are worship, Scripture, and prayer. Stopping right there seemed a little superficial because those actions are so obvious, probably the actions we’d all point to. Digging deeper, what is it in these actions that feeds my faith? Let me try to explain.
WORSHIP: When I put effort into worship, my spirit is moved to praise. “Effort” for me means recognizing that our liturgy, while structured and familiar, carries with it the discipline and obedience I crave. Effort also means paying attention to the music as it embodies both emotion of spirit and truth-telling lyrics, even if not always in equal measure. Effort is actively listening to the sermon, trying to remember three main points (there are rarely more) as the message reinforces the love and sacrifice of Jesus. Finally, effort is concentrating on the Communion that washes away what I am, bringing me closer to what I will be.
SCRIPTURE: I admit that at times the words of Scripture don’t always register with me as God intended when He breathed them out. More importantly, it seems that when the words match my circumstances, my spirit is deeply moved. Hope, faith, courage, obedience, trust, love, salvation and everything else intimate to life is all covered in God’s Word, sometimes when I’m looking for it and sometimes not, but always on offer to feed my faith.
PRAYER: For me, prayer is the most intimate connection to Father, Son and Holy Spirit. A favorite prayer that serves for me as an introduction to more prayer is from Thomas Cranmer, recited each week in worship (personalized in the first person): “Almighty God, to you all hearts are open, all desires known and from you no secrets are hid. Cleanse the thoughts of my heart by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit so that I may perfectly love you and worthily magnify your Holy Name. Through Christ my Lord, Amen.”
So, what feeds your faith and how? If you will allow, let me be so bold as to challenge us all to meditate on, and appreciate, every morsel of the spiritual banquet that God has provided to feed in us His great gift of faith.
P.S. from Fr. Travis
We're looking forward to seeing you Saturday for the Consecration of the Mission Outpost! Please see below for details, noting especially our request that you carpool, and arrive no earlier than 9:30am. Be aware that the service begins in the Narthex (what we call the area outside our Nave/worship space)! We'll gather first in the foyer, hallways, and classrooms, crowding together to be led by Bishop John in the blessing of our Worship House.