Words From Our Pastor
Faith. A topic that we have been focusing in the month of August. We looked at the faith of Peter, on whom Christ said he would build his church. (Remember, you are Petros and on this petra I will build my church).
We talked about faith in Christianity and said that faith is defined as belief, trust, and obedience to God as revealed in Jesus Christ. It is the means of salvation or eternal life. Faith affects all dimensions of one’s existence: intellect, emotions, and will. That seems quite simple enough.
We also discussed the act of faith, or actual faith, saying it is the activity of believing and loving God, in which human capacities and powers are used. Theologically speaking, this faith is a gift of God. (Both definitions from The Westminster Dictionary of Theological Terms, 2nd Edition, Westminster John Knox Press, 2014). Again, a way of looking at faith from a practical view. But then I mentioned there were sixteen further definitions of faith; from explicit faith, to historical faith, also implicit faith, and even saving faith, just to name four of them. I think you get the idea, so I won’t go into the other 12.
So, my question for you is how do you define faith? What does faith mean to you? How would you describe your faith? Can others see your faith in your actions?
As I mentioned last month, we were on vacation in July, cruising around the British Isles. While in Dublin visiting St. Patrick’s Cathedral, Kelley found a Celtic cross that I could wear with my robes for worship. In fact, I wore the cross on the first Sunday in August. The only thing was this large cross did not come with a chain.
Those of you who have been cruising before will know what I am talking about next. For those of you who haven’t cruised before, in the evening the retail staff run specials each night, selling jewelry, watches, t-shirts, and other clothing items. One of the specials is what they call “Gold by the Inch.” They sell gold chains in various shapes and sizes. You just pick the length you want. A perfect place to get a chain for this cross, and I did.
The salesman this night was a young man named Aman. I told him what I wanted and showed him the cross. He looked at me with this inquisitive look and I told him I was a minister. He seemed interested and asked about my denomination. He asked if I was Catholic. I said I was a United Methodist Minister. I mentioned I would wear the cross with my robes and then he understood.
As he was making the chain for the cross he asked if he could ask me a question. Of course, he could. Aman said a couple of cruises ago a woman was on board and after a few nights of shopping she brought him a Bible. Aman said he was hesitant to accept the Bible, but she was insistent – persistent would be a more accurate description. So, he accepted it although he didn’t want to take it. Aman told his manager about it and his manager suggested Aman place this Bible in the ship’s library.
Aman told me he didn’t want to just put it in the ship’s library, it is the Holy Bible. He didn’t want to throw it away, either. He did not know what to do with this Bible. It had been weighing heavily on his mind and was even a bit upsetting for him. He asked, as a minister, would you accept it from me and take care of it? I told him I would. He asked me to wait a few minutes and he went down one deck to another shop and returned. He came back with a small New Testament with the Psalms put out by the Gideon’s.
As he was handing it to me I had to ask if he was Hindu, seeing he was from India. He said no, I am a Muslim. We have our own holy scriptures, the Quran. First, did I feel like a fool. Why did I assume that because he was from India that he was Hindu? India, like our own country, is a melting pot of religions, Hindu, Muslim, and Christianity are just but three.
Then what this young man did hit me. Here was a person of another faith, in this case a Muslim, who held so much reverence for the Christian holy scriptures, that he would not throw the Holy Bible in the trash, nor would he put it in the library of the ship. I am sure he would not have burned it either. He held onto it until he found someone who would safeguard this book and put it to use. That spoke volumes to me about the faith of this man, not only for his beliefs but those of a religion different than his.
What would we have done had we been in Aman’s shoes? If someone gave us a Quran or a Book of Mormon, or the teachings of the Buddha or Confucius, would we have said thank you and tossed them in the garbage? Would we leave the book somewhere for someone else to pick up? Would we look for that one person we could entrust with the text and give it to them because we revered those writing and what they stood for … the faith and beliefs of another person?
Aman’s actions spoke of his faith, his beliefs, and he didn’t have to use words. How about us? How do we speak our faith? Do we speak our faith without using words?
So, until next month, Shalom.