It started with a renewed encounter with Job in Disciple class. Job has just lost almost everything that is dear to him. He sits, miserable, on an ash heap. His wife emerges and with something less than pity, suggesting that Job would be better off if he just cursed God and died. Job draws a breath and says, “Shall we accept the good from the Lord’s hand and not the bad? The Lord gives, the Lord takes away, blessed be the name of the Lord.” Knowing Job’s story well, I recognized here the basis of Job’s faithfulness throughout the book—and a good word for us when
things are not going so well. And I was blown away by the simplicity and power of Job’s words. Over the next few months, I encountered other, similar expressions that grew out of lives of great faithfulness. From Esther, from Daniel’s young friends, from Jesus himself, and I began to explore these lives and lessons.
You see, usually, when we think of “Statements of Faith” we think of “Creeds” or other documents detailing faith that is put into words. They define the “what” of belief. In fact the word “theology” (literally “words about God”) is a word that is used to describe our talk—our statements—about what we believe about God: our faith.
That’s all well and good, I suppose, but now I was beginning to see the phrase “statements of faith” with a slightly different twist. Words are important of course, but even more, it is what follows in terms of action or, perhaps, the words simply may be an outgrowth—an expression—of the faith that enlivens the person already (as was the case with Job). In one case, Abram, the act of leaving for the “land which I will show you” was itself the statement of faith.
The intervening months have allowed these various thoughts to distill into what we believe is a coherent whole. Beginning on September 22, at our unified service following Country Fair, we will begin a seven week sermon series we are calling “Statements of Faith.” This is a study of seven Bible characters whose lives expressed in a powerful way how faith in God was transforming their living. We will begin with Joshua and the children of Israel preparing to possess the land that God had promised and end with Abram’s wordless response to God’s call. Along the way, we will visit Esther and Job, Daniel’s friends, Thomas and Jesus. At each place we will stop and ponder the most powerful and painful two-word challenge anyone can level at our faith: “so what.” What difference does faith make?
So join us each Sunday, September 22 through November 3 as we explore these stories and statements of faith.
Joshua 24:14-18, 25-28
“Choosing Faith Daily”
“The Courage to Follow”
“Turning Aside from Self-Interest”
“Finding Support in Others’ Prayers”
“When We Face Disappointment”
“Into the Unknown”