We often think of faith as something like the tail of a kite: something attached to something else. The ‘something else’ in this case is a body of statements that are meant to tell us a lot of things about God. And in order to get this body of statements off the ground, we have to believe or ‘have faith’ in each of those statements. This way of thinking about faith sounds a little dry to me and actually, quite far from the way of faith we read of in the Bible.
As matter of fact, faith as described above is light years away from how I was greeted this morning at our local Canadian Tire store. Our towel rack in the bathroom falls down if you look at it, and today was the designated fix the towel rack day. Hence, I found myself at Canadian Tire.
I should tell you that on that particular day things were not going all well. Christmas, for all its glory—and I mean that sincerely—also brings challenges for clergy. Just a few days before venturing into Canadian Tire, I had visited someone in palliative care in the emergency department of West Lincoln Memorial Hospital. Within minutes, both she and I were weeping, tightly clasping hands, looking deeply into each other’s eyes. We whispered so as not to disturb others in the tense and over-crowded facility. She was whispering of Scotland, whispering of childhood, whispering beautiful devotional prayers she had known since childhood. We whisper-sung: “There was a soldier, a Scottish soldier, he wandered far away.”
She whispered: “I am a little afraid… of dying… yet… I know everything will be alright… Jesus is with me.”
These moments of Christ’s appearing do not leave us easily. And, like Christ’s appearing in the Gospels, we can be shaken.
Upon walking into Canadian Tire I was greeted with a smile so warm I wish I could have worn it. This was not the first time I had seen this lady. She turned out to be the store manager. In my previous sightings of her in the store she had been unfailingly gracious. I had never spoken to her before. On this day, I said to her: “You know… you have a glow.” The next ten minutes we spent together could save lives. She told me of her love for God, the beauty of God, the need for God’s love, the nearness of God’s love, the saving mercy of God. I wish, in this moment of recall, I had the grace to communicate the compelling and sacramental charm of her conversation. She embodied the grace of God.
Faith is not the tail of a kite: something attached to something else.
Faith is not the outcome of a series of propositions.
Faith is the origin of any question you might have of the reality of God
Faith is the origin of any Love which has ever stirred in your heart.
Faith is the Living Being of God calling you into Life.
Faith is the Pain you live for the distress of others.
Faith is the Silence which inhabits the silence of disaster.
Faith is the Promise of Christ to walk with you in darkness.
Faith is the Promise of Christ to walk with you in light.
Faith is the Pre-Existing Forgiveness of your most serious sin.
Faith is Jesus seeing you before you see Him.
We can call this: The Second Mind of Faith. We can call it: ‘The Second Mind’ because it is a complete ‘Mind.’ The mind of faith is a complete existence, a complete world, an eternal grace. Psalm 36:9: “… in your light we see light” We can also call this, after St. Paul: The Mind of Christ.
Faith is not the fruit of assent to a series of propositions but the encounter of a person. Perhaps an aged woman in palliative care or a profoundly loving manager unequivocally loving every tired customer who comes into the store.