Midweek Musing Aug 3 - A Serious Faith
This summer my daughters Brittany and Sydney had the opportunity to attend and serve at some special events in the life of the Presbyterian Church USA.
Sydney served as a Young Adult Advisory Delegate to the General Assembly which met this summer both in person and on Zoom, and Brittany served on a planning team for one of the Montreat Youth Conferences.
Their mother and I are both proud of their service and thankful they have chosen to give some of their time and talents to witness for the good news of Jesus Christ.
We are also grateful for the many people who have taken the baptismal vows that congregations promise on behalf of all children every time an infant or child is baptized seriously. Such a commitment among God’s people has helped us to raise our daughters to know the love of God through the love of God’s people.
In each of these summer 2022 experiences my daughters had the opportunity to worship daily.
In that daily worship they experienced the worship styles, formats, customs, and traditions of a variety of other Christian communities both inside and outside the PCUSA. Often that worship passed the hour mark and sometimes got close to an hour and a half!
In these worship experiences they were exposed to lots of new ways to worship God including new music, prayers, liturgy and even preaching.
Of course, some of those ways were not as new as they thought.
For example, they came home with a copy of a “new” creed that they had used in worship. It had taken the place of the Apostles Creed, which they are accustomed to as part of worship since birth. The 20-something fuddy-duddies they are both loudly expressed that they were not fans of this “new creed.”
I asked to look at this new creed and could not help but laugh aloud as I discovered that they were complaining about the Nicene Creed, which was written in 325 AD and as such is almost as old as the Apostles Creed. Not exactly new material.
Of course, this wasn’t their only critique. They were also not pleased with things such as the wording of the Lord’s Prayer.
They did not like it one night when the prayer was recited in very contemporary language.
They didn’t even like it when debt and debtors were replaced with trespass and trespassers.
I was both proud that they had an appreciation for the feeling of home that traditional reformed worship gives them while also wondering if perhaps we had made them old before their time!
Since they have come home from these events we have continued to have conversation about their worship experiences. There were some things they really did enjoy. Also I think they really did come to appreciate some of the things they experienced that were uncomfortable for them.
It also helped make real for them the diversity found in the global church community.
However, since I am who I am as their father, I have continued to harass them both by sending them different creeds and confessions of the church and other interpretations and translations of the Lord’s Prayer.
In doing so, I found a particular version of the Lord’s Prayer that I found especially powerful.
It was written by Clarence Jordan.
Rev. Dr. Clarence Jordan was a student of agriculture and New Testament Greek, and is famous for founding Koinonia Farm in Americus, Georgia, which is a pioneering interracial farming community in the Deep South. In the 1960s, he and his dedicated followers braved violence, as well as legal and economic reprisals, as they made their colony a success. Koinonia Farms is still in existence and visiting it is one of my bucket list items!
Rev. Jordan also studied the New Testament and wrote a modern translation with a Southern accent, called The Cotton Patch Gospel. It was later turned into a musical which I shared with some of you on video a few years ago.
As I mentioned, I particularly love his version of the Disciple’s Prayer from Luke: “Father, may your name be taken seriously. May your Movement spread. Sustaining bread grant us each day. And free us from our sins, even as we release everyone indebted to us. And don’t let us get all tangled up.”
I love that first line – “May your name be taken seriously.”
Of course, it also makes me wonder what would happen if we as individuals and a church took our faith in God seriously.
Too often I think Christians treat faith as a hobby, or they let it become “I’ll get to it when I can” or “I will work on my faith if I get some extra time.” This of course means sometimes we never do get to it and our faith journey takes a backseat to all of the other stuff that is out there. I must admit that have been guilty of this.
This type of behavior is what my Uncle Shelvyn would have called “backsliding” and it is not new.
The apostle James worried about this happening to folks even in the first century and warned believers against it in his epistle.
But be doers of the word and not merely hearers who deceive themselves. For if any are hearers of the word and not doers, they are like those who look at themselves in a mirror; for they look at themselves and, on going away, immediately forget what they were like. But those who look into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and persevere, being not hearers who forget but doers who act—they will be blessed in their doing. James 1:22-25 NRSV
These words remind us that our faith is not a hobby or extra, but that it should rule and govern all we do.
So may we each take God and our walk with our Lord seriously.
May those with ears hear and having heard seek to live out our faith in our daily lives.
Have a blessed week.