What is faith? I knew faith when I was very little. Faith was what my mother felt toward me. I knew her faith in me, I lived in the joy of her faith. My faith was a response to hers; it was not separate from that of my mother. Father carried me high on his shoulders. He knew he could hold me; I knew I wouldn’t fall. I believed in him; my confidence in him held me. My faith was in my father. We do not have faith apart from someone else. (Herb Brokering, in Love, Dad: Letters of Faith to My Children)
The above quote is a bit of sermon fodder that fell on the cutting room floor earlier this week, as I prepared today’s Confirmation Sunday sermon. What grabbed me is the final line … “we do not have faith apart from someone else.” Each of us know this, of course. We cannot speak of faith without also speaking about God. But sometimes we slip up and speak about faith as if it were our possession … a commodity … a noun instead of a verb … static instead of active. Brokering’s reflection is a simple and clear reminder that faith is about activity … and interaction … and the rhythm of trust that pulses between two lives.
I know this in my head. Sometimes my heart needs to be reminded. As the past week unfolded, I found myself thinking about the lives of our confirmands as I wrote my sermon. I was thinking about them even at the 8AM liturgy this morning, as the guts of my 8AM sermon was the framework within which (at the 10:45 liturgy) I shared a few reflections on our confirmands and the Bible verses they chose for their special day. It goes without saying that I was focused on them during the late service. But where Brokering’s words truly took on flesh and blood for me … literally … was following the service, as I watched our confirmands with their families, receiving congratulations, taking pictures, and smiling in that embarrassed but pleased way that teens seem to master. Here was faith and trust incarnate before my very eyes. Faith in parents who had helped to expose these young men and women to faith in God. And faith expressed through their modeling of their own faith and their nurturing of that unique relationship between God and God’s children, who were also their children. Knowing that we had an equal number of confirmands simultaneously celebrating the same realities at our New Day liturgy just added blessing upon blessing.
“We do not have faith apart from someone else.” It is a truth that merits some reflection this week in our prayers and meditations. Think about those relationships which have been formative for you in your faith journey. Think about those relationships where you have had the opportunity to be a mentor. Think about your relationship with God, the source and substance of all your healthy and faithful relationships.