COMMITMENT

FAITH IN FOCUS: COMMITMENT

 A young man walked into a camera shop with a framed picture of his girlfriend. He wanted the picture duplicated which, of course, involved removing it from the frame. While doing this, the studio owner noticed the inscription on the back which said, “Dear Wayne, I love you with all my heart. I love you more and more each day. I will love you forever and ever. I am yours for all eternity.” It was signed “Emma” and it contained a P.S.: “If we ever break up, I want this picture back.”

They say there can be no P.S. in our relationship with Christ for he demands an all-or-nothing-at-all commitment. But is it reasonable to follow Christ through thick and thin when we sometimes stand to lose so much?

Could you excuse Christians from openly professing their faith in certain countries where it is a State offence for the bible to be imported and where no provision is madefor any religion other than the official one to be practised?

What would you feel about the young Christian doctor who felt called to go and work in a Third World place where medical provision was negligible but who instead decided to stay in a rich medical practice where he could get on the professional ladder and start to pay off the mortgage on a huge house he wanted to buy?

What about TV personalities who keep quiet about their faith for fear it will affect their popularity? Do you find time for politicians who abstain from voting against legislation that conflicts with their faith just so that they can keep their seats in parliament? Or those who give up beliefs simply to marry? And those whose neighbours don’t even know are Christian for fear of ridicule?

 Before we jump to criticise, there is something of all these people in each of us. Yet Jesus’ words today hold true: If anyone declares themselves for me or disowns me in the presence of men, I will declare myself for them or disown them in the presence of my Father in heaven.

 

EUCHARIST: PAST, PRESENT AND FUTURE

FAITH IN FOCUS:

PAST: 2,000 years ago on a Thursday evening Jesus ate what was probably a Passover meal with his disciples in the Upper Room. This meal was a memorial of how God had freed the Jewish people by liberating them from slavery and providing them with a promised land. During his meal Jesus told the disciples that from now on they were to eat this meal not in remembrance of Moses and the Exodus but in memory of him. For the bread that they would eat was his body that the next day would be nailed to
the cross, and the wine that they would drink was his blood that on the same Friday would be shed on Calvary.

PRESENT: Today we Christians have a living memorial of that saving action of Christ. It is the eucharist. Over the centuries Christians have never ceased to follow that command of Jesus at the Last Supper. They have gathered together, listened to God’s word in the scriptures and then, when they have taken, blessed and broken the bread, they have shared communion by eating and drinking what Christ tells us is his body and blood.

In this sacrament of the eucharist Jesus is really present to those who receive him. His flesh is real food and his blood is real drink because both of them nourish, they sustain us and keep us spiritually healthy. As we eat and drink from the one bread and cup the eucharist becomes a sign of the unity that we share and at the same time it also makes us one in Christ.

FUTURE: The eucharist is food for our journey, medicine for our health and strength for our future. Not simply about the past and present it directs us towards two futures. The first future means that the eucharist is a sign of our commitment to building up the kingdom of God here on earth. So receiving the eucharist is not just an act of devotion; it commits us to action. Through the grace of the Holy Spirit we pledge ourselves to playing our full part in the Church’s work of bringing about a world in which justice, peace and holiness reign. And the second future is in the afterlife. The eucharist is a pledge of the heavenly banquet that God has promised to those who listen to the voice of his Son. What we experience in the food of the eucharist is a
foretaste of an eternal feast with God.

The feast of the Body and Blood of Christ  allows us to thank God for this wonderful gift.

FAMILY TRAITS

FAITH IN FOCUS: FAMILY TRAITS

Don’t be scared of the Trinity. It doesn’t have to be complicated even though in our heart of hearts we know we can never fully grasp what it’s all about. The Trinity means that although there is only one God, that same godhead comprises three persons: Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Together they form a family.

When St Paul used the name of the Trinity to bless people, he spoke of three broad activities that each one was responsible for. Of course, the Trinity is much more than these three things, and each person has a share in all of them. There are no demarcation disputes where the Trinity is concerned!

The thing that sprang to Paul’s mind for the Father was “love”. This may seem old hat to us, but in a pagan world, where the gods controlled people’s lives and demanded all sorts of sacrifices to ward off their wrath, the idea that God actually loves us seemed quite novel. God the Father not only loves us, he is love itself.

 And love cannot be kept to itself; it needs some sort of expression. The Father expressed his love by making men and women and giving them a wonderful place to live. When we show love to anyone else, it is really God’s love that we are passing on, since we can only love because we have God’s ever-present love within us.

“Grace” was the catch-all word that Paul used to describe Jesus. Grace is not a thing, even though our minds sometimes think of it in that way. Grace is the freely given state of favour that rests with us. God is on our side and provides us with the means to be fulfilled if only we ask for this favour. The ultimate sign of this was when Jesus set us right with God by atoning for our sinfulness through his death on the cross.

And Paul speaks of the Holy Spirit in terms of “fellowship”. The Holy Spirit is the bond of closeness and communion that completes the family of the Trinity. If we experience God’s grace and love it is through the Holy Spirit and this same Holy Spirit unites us with all those who are also sustained and comforted by God.

To live a life in the Trinity means to experience God’s love, to enjoy God’s favour and to be held together in a family of fellowship with God and with each other.

 

HIDDEN HELPER

FAITH IN FOCUS: HIDDEN HELPER

“Footprints in the Sand” is a poem about God’s invisible presence. Sometimes seen on greeting cards, it’s about someone complaining that God was nowhere to be found at crucial moments. Then God replies pointing out that he was there all the time. Although he couldn’t be seen, there were two sets of footprints in the sand.

At Pentecost, Whit Sunday, we celebrate the coming of the Holy Spirit, the advocate promised by Jesus. The Holy Spirit is with us at every moment of our lives, and many of the things we do are only possible with the help of the Spirit. We may not always sense his presence, but there are always two sets of footprints wherever we go.

For the Holy Spirit is the power behind all our attempts at doing good. God’s Spirit makes people bold. The disciples were timidly huddled in a room before the Spirit released them to be fearless in their preaching. And when we need the courage to speak up for what is right or to take a difficult course of action it is the Spirit who emboldens us.

Life does not always go the way we hope it will. We suffer loss, we become downhearted, and we sometimes feel defeated. It is the Spirit within us that is able to console and comfort and who allows us to offer solace to others in their need. And when our world is riven with strife and discord it is the Spirit who urges us on to bring peace, reconciliation and unity.

 But of course life is not all doom and gloom. We are capable of achieving great happiness, of being enormously creative, of sharing loving relationships with God and each other. This too is the work of the Spirit. For the Spirit animates us, encourages us and inspires us to go beyond our own human limitations to act in a God-like way.

 Christians possess the Spirit through their baptism and confirmation. And today when we step forward to eat and drink at our Whitsun Eucharist we ask that his gifts may continue to blossom within the Church so that we may continue to proclaim to the world that God is alive and active, working through the hearts of men and women.

Even if we can’t always see his footprints.