What Faith Is For

Mordechai said to Queen Esther: “Who knows? Perhaps you have come to royal dignity for just such a time as this.”

The apostles said to the Lord, “Increase our faith!” The Lord replied, “If you had faith the size of a mustard seed, you could say to this mulberry tree, `Be uprooted and planted in the sea,’ and it would obey you. Luke 17:5

I was among the millions who watched the first presidential debate on Monday evening, and as for most, the debate reinforced my decision to vote for one of the two candidates.  As bishop, I don’t take public positions in support of any political party or candidate. But I share the view that this is a pivotal election, and that as Christians living in a democratic society, we have a responsibility to participate in civic life for the good of all.

How Christians are called by God to exercise our citizenship is not always clear and we are not of one mind. The challenges we face are complex and there are no easy solutions. We have many strengths as a nation and we have our blind spots, all the more dangerous as fissures widen along racial, economic, educational, religious, cultural and generational lines. In late August I asked in light of national and global events and the escalating political rhetoric of the presidential election, what you thought God was trying to say to us right now. I wanted your bottom line: the one sentence of clarity that rises, for you, above the clamor. Your responses were broad and life giving, underscoring how we can, in fact, hear words of consolation and challenge, encouragement and exhortation when we ask for divine inspiration in perplexing times.

I promised you my answer to the question I asked, stated another way by a friend who wondered: how can we use our faith to help us navigate and grow during these stormy and chaotic times?

So here it is:  

Faith is for times times like these, precisely to help us navigate through storms and trials. This is our time to live by whatever faith we have, those bits of goodness, grace and love given to us, knowing all the while that not everything is up to us.  We may never feel as if we have enough, or that we can do enough. It doesn’t matter. We’re here now and we all have an offering to make. Jesus himself assured us that we don’t need very much to move mountains, that a little bit of faith, a little bit of love, a little bit of righteous anger goes a long way.  

I know it’s not easy. We can’t help but feel tired or discouraged sometimes. But there are deep wells of strength, wisdom and courage available to us through the grace and mercy of Jesus. We also have the example of our ancestors who bravely faced the challenges of their time and on whose shoulders we stand. And when we can’t see the way ahead, there are others around us whose candles are still burning with whom we can lock arms and make our way together. We need never walk alone.

The decisions we make, as a nation, on November 8, are very important. And on the morning of November 9, some of us will wake up tremendously relieved and others deeply disappointed. But no matter the outcome, we will rise that day, as everyday, as followers of Jesus and citizens of this land. We are here for a time such as this.

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