Over the month of October we are going to explore the theme of faithfulness. Faithfulness is a very important topic for the church since it is one of the foundational missions that we are tasked with doing. Unfortunately, discussions on Faithfulness in the church are incredibly difficult. I know that is a surprising thing to say, but there are many reasons for this.
The difficulty with discussions on faithfulness lies with the fact that the word itself means vastly different things to every individual. Thus, the fact that we don’t even start in the same place makes it virtually impossible to ever hold a thorough discussion.
When I was working on my Doctorate, I recognized that in addition to having vastly different understandings of the word itself, many people had a fear of talking about faith because they were afraid that they might be judged poorly. Some had even experienced times when they had been kicked out of church or their communities because they shared an unpopular faith story.
The problem of being human is that we have egos. The ego is actually a good survival mechanism, but the ego also lets us think that we have the exclusive answer or that our way is the only way. The problem with that when it comes to faith is that every person who lives in this world, even kids in the same family, live in different realities. This means that everyone experiences life a little differently. This also means that everyone experiences faith a little differently.
Therefore, if one person was to conform to another person’s faithfulness, fundamentally they would most likely be missing major components and understandings to faith. For me, I can understand why and how people can find it incredibly spiritual to sit in silence, but for me on a personal level, silence is not a spiritual exercise in my life. Now, there are various reasons for that, the biggest being that I spend so much of my life in silence that the practice of silence is not rewarding, especially when I am around other people.
That does not mean that there is anything wrong or bad about it! It just does not work for me. Though for a large percentage of people, silence is the most important part of their faith development and expression. When I listen to the experiences when people talk about a disciplined silent meditation, I am often in awe, and while my experiences are different, I can see how their witness to God in silence is like my witness of God while I am biking or swimming and can feel and know God is present.
This is why when we enter into discussions and explorations into faithfulness we have to do so with an understanding of our own bias, and when people share about their faith, we can accept and understand how they see themselves connected with God.
As we enter into a month of exploring faithfulness, I do so not to give a prescription for how to be faithful, but to give you tools by which you can discern faith or maybe tools that will help you to find a new ways to connect with your faith. Please join us for worship at the 10:30 AM service over the month of October to explore your Faithfulness.
Yours in Christ,
Rev. Dr. Bryan James Franzen