She was giving out sauce samples at Ribfest.
Earlier, a stranger in the crowded park shouted, “Go to (ribber’s name), they have the best ribs!”
I noticed two tattoos on her right forearm – a cross and the word “Faith”.
I asked her why the tattoos.
“The cross,” she explained, “is in memory of my father who died recently, and the word reminds me I need faith to live life.”
That encounter was the beginning of this HOLLIStorial.
These three remain: faith, hope and love. Paul wrote this in his famous letter to Christians living in Corinth.
In coming months, I will explore hope and love, but faith gets November.
We explore faith from Jesus’ perspective, other people’s perceptions and how faith and history merge together.
Jesus on faith
Faith in God was the ultimate foundation upon which Jesus built his life and ministry.
Even though he upbraided his disciples for their lack of faith, he still expected them and us to imitate him.
In fact, he told his listeners, probably with an outward smile and inner chuckle, that if their faith was the size of a mustard seed (the smallest of all seeds) they could command a mountain to pick itself up and move elsewhere. Luke reduced the mountain to a mulberry bush, but with similar consequences … if you get my drift.
Because of their faith, Jesus healed a woman who had been ill for 12 years, a beggar who was blind and a boy who was possessed by a demon — three of many healing miracles.
Early church on faith
Paul, writing to the Christian communities springing up around the Mediterranean Sea, called faith “a gift from God”, secured perpetually by the very fact of Jesus’ resurrection.
This same message delivered by Paul and others as they visited many cities, towns and villages, prompted Luke to write in the Acts of the Apostles, “the churches were made stronger in the faith, and grew in numbers every day.”
Christian churches today should be more faith driven as they seek ways to reverse dwindling attendance at worship and increase membership.
In the letter to the Hebrews (chapter 11), the unknown author, recognizing that the early Christians were facing violent opposition causing some to drift away, gave a long list of Old Testament personalities who used faith to overcome challenging situations.
He concluded that faith in God made Noah build his life-saving ark, caused Abraham to leave his comfortable home to seek an unknown land “without knowing where he was going” and enabled Moses to lead God’s people out of slavery in Egypt through many dangers and obstacles to freedom.
After documenting numerous examples of people who overcame a myriad of life shattering circumstances by faith, the Hebrews author concluded, “To have faith is to be sure of the things we hope for, to be certain of the things we cannot see.”
Others on faith
Throughout history, many have written about the power of faith in getting things done, notably:
Martin Luther King Jr.: Faith is taking the first step when you don’t see the whole staircase.
St. Augustine: Faith is to believe what you do not see; the reward of this faith is to see what you believe.
William Barclay: Faith in God is the instrument which enables men and women to remove the hills of difficulty which block their path.
William Peterson: Faith is not only daring to believe, it is also daring to do.
“Make our faith greater,” the disciples asked Jesus. Years later Paul responded, “I pray that Christ will make his home in your hearts through faith.”
The same prayer is equally relevant today.
A faith exercise
A. Select at least three experiences in your life.
B. Ask: how did my faith in God help or was visible during these times?
Then discuss it with your friend, relative or minister.
Share your story (400 words or less) with the Niagara Anglican below