Unpacking our Vision
Part 2: Celebrating Faith
“As individuals in our day to day lives, and in gathering together for worship, study and prayer, we celebrate our diversity and faith with praise and thanksgiving”
Rooted by Faith
“I pray that, according to the riches of his glory, he may grant that you may be strengthened in your inner being with power through his Spirit, and that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith, as you are being rooted and grounded in love”
If Journeying with God is at the centre of our vision statement, it is our faith that draws us out like roots reaching for moisture, faith is what keeps us secure and nurtures us on the journey.
Faith “ The strength of what we believe”
“We believe in God the Father, who made the world.
We believe in Jesus Christ, his Son, who redeemed humankind.
We believe in the Holy Spirit, who gives life to the people of God.
An Affirmation of Faith, Methodist Worship Book, p92.
” Faith” put simply, is what we believe, and what we put our confidence in. Faith in God Father, Son and Holy Spirit – or – Maker, Redeemer and Sustainer. It is God in whom we put our faith, and who we know is faithful to us.
As Christians, the faithfulness of God, and our response to God, our faith, should be what puts the life in our living. Faith is what drives us, encourages us and enlivens us.
Faith “known and unknown, in doubt or certainty”
“Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” Hebrews 11:1
Some have said that the opposite of faith is doubt. But as a college tutor suggested while I was studying, perhaps it is more helpful to think of faith as the opposite of certainty.
There are things we believe about God and faith which we have a sense of understanding of. Yet there are others we have no comprehension of. But the danger of suggesting that doubt is the opposite of faith is that doubt becomes a bad thing, and something that we see as unfaithful.
But that view, in my mind, is not helpful. Thomas is wrongly dubbed the doubter. Yes he had doubts, but he equally had faith that Jesus could help him reconcile them.
On the contrary, to seek certainty of everything would negate the need for faith at all, for no trust or belief would be necessary because all would be certain, seen and known.
“Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe”
Celebrating what we have
To see faith not as the opposite of doubt, but of certainty, helps me to characterise faith in terms of what I do have, rather than what I don’t. To appreciate the faith I’ve found, not dwell on the uncertainties, doubts and unanswered questions I still have.
I don’t ignore those doubts and questions, but I find a focus on what I have is a positive way of appreciating and celebrating the faith I do have.
“Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us give thanks, by which we offer to God an acceptable worship with reverence and awe”
It is from the appreciation of what we have – doubts and certainties, knowns and unknowns, that celebration comes. Celebrating created life in all its colours and diversity, difference and beauty.
Celebrating Faith as Individuals
Faith is, by its very nature, a personal thing. It is thus characterised for each if us differently. Faith for each of us roots itself in different places, communities and lifestyles. For some of us faith has been part of life for as long as we can remember. For others it may still be coming to birth.
Faith is a lifelong journey with God for each of us, and at times faith feels stronger than others, and at times in life faith can feel easier than others. Life is not always a celebration. There are season of life which bring challenge and struggle as well as joy. Yet in all seasons we can know the faithfulness of God and know it worth celebrating, even if we don’t celebrate in practice in those difficult seasons of life.
“But you, O Lord, are a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness.” Psalm 86:15
Therefore, while the season of life can be tough to weather, as we journey as individuals we have daily opportunities to life lives of worship and praise as we live our day to day lives in the world that is God’s dwelling place.
Celebrating Faith Together
The fact that faith is so diverse and multi-faceted and different for each of us is the marvellous thing about faith and the joy that brings us together. Not only to share those things we have in common, but also be enriched by those things that may be different among us.
We celebrate faith as a defined Christian community when we gather for public worship, we celebrate the faith we share with other churches when we gather with ecumenical friends for worship or fellowship. But that isn’t where it ends.
“All who believed were together and had all things in common; they would sell their possessions and goods and distribute the proceeds to all, as any had need. Day by day, as they spent much time together in the temple, they broke bread at home and ate their food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having the goodwill of all the people” Acts 2:44-47a
Whether we’re gathered for worship, fellowship, bible study, over coffee, as we celebrate life-events, bump into a friend in the street or at the bus stop (the list could go on, the possibilities are endless), formal or informal, there is opportunity to celebrate faith together as we share with one another. The question is whether we take that opportunity or ignore it.
Sharing the faith we celebrate
When we have a significant achievement in life, we pass the exam we’ve worked hard at, a baby has been born, a promotion at work, we are excited by it and often share the news with others.
But are we the same with faith?
Are we excited by the faith we’ve found and desperate to share it?
Or have we lost something of faith’s joy, passion and zeal?
“But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect” 1 Peter 3:15 (NIVUK)
To celebrate faith is to be excited, enlivened and impassioned to share it with others in and beyond the established community, in the context of mutual relationships of love, trust and care.
Celebrating faith with joy, enthusiasm and passion is the very lifeblood that brought Christianity to birth, sustained it through the centuries and we pray continues to do so for generations to come.
So, what does all this mean for us at BRMC?
- That we recognise, celebrate and value our differences and diversity, as well as the common ground we share.
- We consider how we share and celebrate faith with one another, and how we share it with others.
- We know and celebrate the faithfulness of God to us as individuals and as a community as we continue to discern the shape of our future mission and ministry.
Questions for reflection and discussion
Have you found this article helpful?
What would you add if you were to talk about Celebrating Faith?
What do you disagree with? Let’s get talking!
Below are some questions to get us thinking, praying and talking together!
- How might you define your faith?
- What things do you believe that you have in common with others? What about the things you believe that might differ?
- How do you celebrate your faith?
- What questions about faith do you have? Have you ever asked others about them?
- What ways have you shared your faith with someone else in the last week?
- Where in the weekly life of BRMC do you see places and ways faith can be shared and celebrated?