Finding Faith: Celebrate what you have
The story is told of Karl Barth, that he had scrawled into the inside of his pulpit these words: “That they might see Jesus” And he was reminded of that singular task. He was not there to entertain them, or to impress them, or to coddle them, or make them better. He was preaching ‘That they might see Jesus” and this is my prayer for my preaching; to do my best to be faithful to that calling. That others may see the God who is our hope and our life.
I once heard worship defined as celebrating the availability of God; that may just get it right — the presence rather than the blessings of God. This new way is different, the difference between water and wine.
Of course, we will continue to hurt when bad things happen. Hurt (over trials) like pain from a kidney stone, is human, not sinful. But despair is sinful. It is subhuman to feel as if your source of real joy has been taken from you — when a child rebels or a loved one dies, or a business fails, or an immoral temptation wins.
The important thing is not to lose your footing, your place in His grace. Hold fast. Exercise with prayer rather than give into panic.
God is still present, and his grace is sufficient.
There is no cause to tear our robes. What I mean by that is in the ancient world, the tearing of one’s robe was a recognized way of expressing agony over catastrophe, and expressing of grief that overwhelms and undoes us. As mature Christians, our prayer life and grounding in Scripture can act as “shock absorbers” to guard us from anxiety and despair. The act of prayer itself creates sacred space for anxiety to dissipate. It is worthwhile noting that priests in the Old Testament were forbidden to tear their robes, because priests alone had access to God’s presence, and in His presence there is no cause for despair (Exodus 28:32-32; Leviticus 10:1-6; Matthew 26:62-65). We are all a priesthood of believers now.
Because we now “see Jesus,” we celebrate. The Christian always has reason to celebrate.
“When we fail, celebrate His grace.
“When we are blessed, celebrate His mercy. When others reject us, celebrate His abiding presence.”
What do you call the person leading, inviting the congregation to communion?
The celebrant! We celebrate communion. There is no other word for it.
Finding Faith is written by area pastors. This week’s column comes from Pastor Taylor Camerer of Great Island Presbyterian Church, Lock Haven.