When you read the gospels, you will hear Jesus tell his disciples over and over again, “Do no fear.” As Christians, we want to heed Jesus’ words. The PCUSA is encouraging all Presbyterian churches to
live by faith, not fear.
This is especially important right now when global pandemic leads to feelings of uncertainty, loss, anxiety, loneliness, and anger.
But what exactly does it mean to live by faith during this time?
Let me start by sharing what I think “living by faith” is
First, living by faith is not the same thing as naive or even blind optimism. I hear some Christians saying things like, “Everyone is overreacting. I’m going to turn off the news and ‘just have faith.’” Having faith does not mean that we can simply ignore reality. There are threats to people’s health that we need to take into account. People are scared, hurt, anxious, uncertain, grieving, and angry. All of that should not be explained away as a
Second, living by faith is not the same thing as living life as usual no matter what. I hear some Christians saying things like, “I’m going to keep doing everything like I have done it. I don’t care if I get sick. Giving into closures and cancellations is giving up and giving in. The church should have more faith.” Having faith is not being "Iowa strong" or stubborn. Taking healthy precautions not only protects yourself, it helps other people - those who are sick, vulnerable to illness, and members of the health profession.
So what does it mean to live by faith?
I believe that living by faith means embracing the idea that the despair and fear we feel is never all there is. Hebrews 11:1 says, “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” We have to face the realities we find ourselves in. The situation is serious. And yet, God is with us working to bring peace even in the midst of chaos, comfort even in the midst of pain, joy in the midst of sorrow. Living by faith means hoping for those promises, even when they are not yet seen. Living by faith means enacting those promises in our world so that others might actually see them through us. That's what it means to be the hands and feet of Christ.
Friends, I am terribly sad that we have had to alter so many of our ministries. I will miss preaching in our sanctuary and hearing the choir sing. I will miss seeing you all every week. I am worried about those who are so isolated. I am frustrated that those who are most vulnerable in our community are having a hard time finding food and basic aid. I am uncertain about how this time will affect our church relationships.
And yet, we can live by faith and be proactive in nurturing our faith through adapted ministries and intentional practices at home. I have listed several ideas in this enote and I, along with the staff, will keep offering ideas. I encourage you to commit to participating. Set up a routine for regular prayer, Bible study, and worship. Reach out to me or any of the staff for help and updates. We are committed to helping our church stay connected during this time.
As I said in my congregational letter, the church has not shut down! We can be the church in our home when we are committed to practicing and living by faith. I am committed and I hope you are too.
May the peace of Christ be with you! You are in my prayers!