This is a different season for us all. We will be faced with a new normal for the coming weeks, perhaps months. And yet, even as we socially distance ourselves, as a people of faith, we have a witness of faith in Jesus Christ that teaches us to ensure we are no isolating ourselves from the needs of the community. In the feeding of the multitudes, Jesus teaches us that what we have to offer is sufficient, and that with our provisions, God will care for us all.
“Jesus wept.” Such a profound and compact Biblical witness to the faith of Jesus Christ. But Jesus’ tears may surprise you. These divine tears are not just a witness to Jesus’ deep love for humanity, but are a reminder of the depth of Jesus’ faithfulness to his calling as Savior.
Before he performs the miracle of calming the storm, Jesus rebukes the disciples for their fear and their lack of faith. We tend to skip over the rebuke so that we might marvel at the miracle. But skipping the rebuke is just our way to try and tame the story. Jesus isn’t a circus act to be observed, he’s the manifestation of God’s love in flesh, whose faith is a model for faithful discipleship.
Why do we go to church on Ash Wednesday? Surely it’s not to be reminded we’re broken. The world is good to telling us how broken we are, do we really need the church to do the same? We go to church on Ash Wednesday not simply to proclaim, and to be marked, as a broken and sinful creation – but to remember that we have something better to proclaim.
When Paul says that we are saved by “the faith of/in Jesus Christ,” what does he mean? Paul believed this faith was a faith that tore down walls, not a faith that built walls up. Paul believed this faith removed the demarcations that had divided the community, instead of being a faith that further splintered communities. This was not any faith, this was the faith of Jesus Christ – it is the Lord’s faithfulness that offers righteousness and claims us as God’s children.
To understand Paul’s writings, you have to understand the art of letter writing. Paul wasn’t writing a collection of instruction books for the whole of Christianity, he was writing as an apostolic leader to communities of faith he planted. How we understand his writings will be wholly dependent on how we understand why he wrote.
Labor Day is not a celebration of how great our workforce is, it is a reminder that we are called to be something greater than we have been before. Hebrews 13 offers a similar call to the faithful. It is not a text of how great we are at living our faith, it’s a call to how much greater we should be as a people of faith.
The Parable of the Mustard Seed does say that great outcomes arrive from small beginnings, but such a reading is banal. It’s simple. It’s too easy. It’s not provocative enough. What was Jesus really saying? Take another read.
Editorial additions to the Biblical text, like section headers, often impact our ability to faithfully hear Jesus’ words. To understand the parables, like that of the lost sheep, coin, and son, we have to strip away 2000 years of explanatory interpretations to rehear Jesus’ words with the ears of the Pharisees.
Tabitha’s resurgent life is no more for herself that Peter’s resurgent faith is for himself. Peter’s gift of faith brings about new life in Tabitha, which in turn brings about new life and new faith in the community.