Faith

Wednesday, January 2, 2013 — 9th Day of Christmas (Year One)

Vedanayagam Samuel Azariah, First Indian Anglican Bishop, Dornakal, 1945

[Go to http://www.missionstclare.com/english/index.html for an online version of the Daily Office including today’s scripture readings.]

Today’s Readings for the Daily Office

(Book of Common Prayer, p. 940)

Psalms 34 (morning) // 33 (evening)

Genesis 12:1-7

Hebrews 11:1-12

John 6:35-42, 48-51

For John Wesley, faith was a core concept, but his own concept of faith developed over time. At first, Wesley spoke of faith mostly as belief — assenting to the truth of the Christian revelation. Faith in something that was predominately objective.

It is as though his faith then moved from his head to his heart as he experienced God’s grace in a more deeply personal and intuitive way. Wesley’s conversation about faith began to turn more in a direction of personal trust that leaves one confident in God, especially confident in God’s love. Trusting in God’s love becomes its own evidence that God’s love nurtures and inspires growing our trust and confidence.

For Wesley “faith” continued to have a sense of believing in the truth of revelation (as in believing in “the faith” — a noun), but as his own experience of faith became more nuanced, he spoke of “degrees” of faith as a sense of growing in faith (more like a verb — “faithing”). As our faith grows — trusting, loving — we expand our experience of God’s love which expands our understanding of God’s love. We grow toward holiness, so assured of God’s love that the same love fills us and energizes our lives.

We open the Abraham saga today in Genesis. Abraham is the father of faith, the icon of faith. Abraham trusted God’s call promising blessing, and he left his home, his family, and his dependence upon their support. He trusted God for guidance and support, and set out on his pilgrimage. He acted in trust. His faith was a verb — the action of leaving, grounded in his trust that God would lead guide and bless him.

Hebrews 11 begins today with this definition of faith: “Faith is the reality of what we hope for, the proof of what we don’t see.” (11:1, CEB) Then the writer tells stories of those who acted in trust. Our reading today from the Gospel of John includes much of Jesus’ “I am the bread of life” discourse.

I find myself often uncertain about what I believe. I find I have much doubt about many things.

But I find that I can trust. I can trust God’s love, especially as revealed in the story and person of Jesus, and I as I act, trusting that love, I find it becomes self-authenticating. Love begets love, and is fulfilling and satisfying, the Bread of Life.

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