Making Faith Tangible
by Pastor Paula Lawhead
My son is five-and-three-quarters (as he puts it), and he is like any Kindergartner when it comes to attending worship on Sunday—he wants a snack and activities to keep him busy. I oblige even though I would rather that he listen and participate in a bigger way. He’ll get there. But as much as he is doing “other” things, his little ears are listening, and when we’re getting ready for bed he’ll ask things like, “How does God hear our prayers?” and “How come Jesus had to die for us to be happy? I’m not happy that Jesus died, Mom.” And then I have to try and answer those questions. It can be really daunting—and I have a master’s degree in this stuff!
Likewise, every summer as I am working through the Bible study with our campers, I have questions that come from them. They are big questions. Like, “Who made God?” and “Does God really forgive ALL sins?” and “Why did my grandma have to die?” And I do my best to listen for what they are really wondering and answer in a way that is comforting.
But, it’s not just the little ones who have these big questions. I have just as many adults ask me similar questions like, “Does God really forgive EVERYONE?” “How do we know what God wants from us?” and “Why [insert personal concern or hardship here]?” And, again, I do my best to listen for what they are really wondering and answer in a way that is comforting.
Truthfully, we all want to know what we can be sure of in the midst of the uncertainty of life.
One of my greatest convictions is that people of faith want to have a deeper understanding of God and what God is doing in their lives. Whether we are six or 86, we want to be able to put words to the faith that is in us. Yet, when it comes down to it, the average person often feels like they don’t know enough to be able to share their faith. But to be able to grab onto the truth of what God has promised would be awesome! To be able to share a basic truth with a child, grandchild, or neighbor is life-giving!
I teach adult faith formation classes just for this reason. My goal with these education events is to provide the space for questions and conversation that make a person’s faith tangible. Gathering with other adults who are also seeking to put words to what they believe creates an atmosphere of courageous wondering that is not afraid of the big questions. Plus, it’s fun! This past October, I had the opportunity to teach about the Sacraments at Sullivan Hills; this Spring I will be back to discuss the Apostles’ Creed.
What big questions do you wonder about? I would love to look together to see how God is working in the midst of our own uncertainties. What promises has God made to you? Come and find out! Learn and live with a growing and confident faith.