“O that you would tear open the heavens and come down…” -Isaiah 64:1 (NRSV)
I’ve been thinking a lot about faithfulness in preparing for Advent and reflecting on simple questions like “What is it? What does it look like today… in our church… in our community… in each of our lives?”
A classical understanding of faithfulness centers around two dimensions: trust and belief. When we speak of trust in this sense we mean that in our hearts we are loyal to God and encouraged through a dynamic, Spirit-filled relationship. This is “a confidence on which one stakes one’s life,” to quote Martin Luther.
The other component, belief, is the set of theological propositions and claims that we come to impersonally, objectively, and analytically. More recently Martin Buber wrote in Two Types of Faith that the loyalty aspect of faithfulness is “a contact of my whole being with one I can trust” while belief speaks more to objectively “acknowledging a thing to be true.”
With this working definition of faithfulness in hand we can encounter the Christmas story again with fresh eyes. Joseph was faithful to his marriage, to Mary, and to the God who assured him of his own part to play. Mary was faithful when called upon to be the mother of Jesus even though it would upend everything her life had been thus far. Elizabeth was faithful to the experience of her womb… the shepherds were faithful to what they saw and heard… the Magi were faithful to the star they followed to that manger long ago… and God was, is, and will be faithful to all God’s children.
I look forward to preparing for the arrival of hope to our world once more and for my first time here in Flemington. There are may opportunities for you to share your faith within and outside our church family this year. My prayer is that we all can grow in trust, in belief, and in faithfulness together.
Grace and Peace,