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Speaking to the Soul: Set Out

Speaking to the Soul: Set Out

Week of Christmas 1, Year One

[Go to Mission St Clare for an online version of the Daily Office including today’s scripture readings.]

Today’s Readings for the Daily Office:

Psalms 34 (morning) // 33 (evening)

Genesis 12:1-7

Hebrews 11:1-12

John 6:35-42, 48-51

The first verse of today’s second reading is like an old friend to me. My best friend in sixth grade wrote it on the inside cover of a Student Bible that she gave me as a gift. The verse defines faith like this: “Faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” This verse was great to lean on through the ensuing years of middle school and high school. But I might have also valued the description of Abraham’s faithful life a little later in the passage: “he set out, not knowing where he was going.”

The faithful life is a balance between seeking some form of assurance and conviction, and taking leaps (or even just steps!) into the unknown. This passage from the letter to the Hebrews gives examples of how faith played out in the lives of God’s people—Abel, Enoch, Noah, and, of course, Abraham.

What strikes me is how different faith looks in these individual lives. Abel made an especially pleasing offering to God; Enoch had a particularly close relationship with God; Noah heeded a warning and planned accordingly; Abraham left everything he knew behind and moved to a foreign land. There are more details to these stories, but they all exemplify faith. And they all balance assurance with facing the unknown.

Faithfulness gives us both greater assurance and conviction to rest on, and greater courage in our vulnerability as we move toward the unknown. Before we set out today, whether or not we think we know where we’re going, let’s pause to ask for the gift of faith. And then, let’s set out like Abraham, not quite knowing what we’re getting ourselves into, but trusting that God will be with us.

Lora Walsh blogs about taking risks and seeking grace at A Daily Scandal.  She serves as curate of Grace Episcopal Church in Siloam Springs and as director of the Ark Fellows, an Episcopal Service Corps  program sponsored by St. Paul’s in Fayetteville, Arkansas.

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