Sunday, November 14, 2010

Fashion, Faith and Fire

From the Guardian Nov. 6, 2010 - Guest Sermon

Advertizing signs often make me laugh. I saw a motel this summer advertize, amongst other things, “wireless fridges.” I know that they meant that wireless internet was available as well as refrigerators, but the sign still struck me as funny. The sign was changed before the end of the summer, perhaps because others were also amused by it. Care in how we speak about ourselves applies as much to faith groups as it does to businesses.

A quick look at the religion section of any book store and it seem as though there are as many titles opposing faith in God as there are supporting faith. Many of these authors promote their point of view with greater zeal than people of faith. We could even argue that it has become fashionable to reticule believers and particularly Christians.

This is sad and hardly does anything to further a creative and disciplined discourse or debate. The reality is that no matter how imperfect every expression of faith is – God the creator is real and present. No cleaver argument or shouting or act of violence with change the truth about God.

We were born into a world ruled by the principles of science and particularly the reliance on empirical proof. I cannot help but use these principles and apply them to my journey of faith. I have, like many people of faith, experienced things in a way that leads me logically to a belief in the existence of God. The fact that others have read the same things I’ve read and experienced similar things that I’ve experienced but who have come to different conclusions is a fact of life.

No one person has the whole truth about God, but together we can discern God presence in the world and God’s call for us to be a people of faith and love. We are each limited in our ability to know God, but by sharing times of worship, study and debate we can grow deeper in our knowledge and love of God.

To be a people of faith is to be a people of love, and to be a people who let love direct our choices in life. Letting the love of God direct and inform our actions as partners, as parents, as neighbours, as business people, as whoever we are.

The current way in which many people attack faith groups is a kind of storm, and a storm can change everything.

It doesn’t really matter what kind of disaster we face; be it flood, fire, drought or wind – everything changes as a result. Even in the midst of death, life springs forth. That’s exactly what the Day of Pentecost had in store for the disciples of Jesus Christ. They had gathered in Jerusalem for the festival, still grieving the death of Jesus. And now, to top it all off, as they gathered for prayer they had to endure a storm; a mighty wind, followed by fire. Whatever did they do to warrant such things?

It wasn’t, of course, just any wind, nor was it just any fire. This was the breath and spirit of God. Out of the death that they still so keenly felt, new life emerged, and new possibilities became real.

Pentecost is not just about the past, be it the giving of the Law or the way in which the disciples experienced the Holy Spirit in Jerusalem. Pentecost is about the present and the deep knowledge we have that God continues to inspire us by lighting a fire in our hearts. The winds of God continue to storm through our lives, and all because God loves us. Whatever did we do to warrant such love?

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