To believe and to trust seems to us to be the more hopeful path to take. But, how did we get here? What brought us to this place of faith? That’s the question for this morning. How do we get faith in the first place? The Bible is pretty clear on this one. We heard the answer this morning: faith comes from what is heard, and what is heard comes through the word about Christ. As we explore this idea, you’ll find that it’s pretty simple, but I hope that we can reconnect with how important it is.
Matthew and Adily and Zach gathered with other college students from Calvin and Grand Valley State University in a coffee shop. They are the generation of people who have grown up in the world with a “war on terror” and “homeland security.” As far as most of them are concerned, these things have always existed because they’ve seen there as long as they’ve been aware. A reporter from the Grand Rapids Press gathered this group of students to record their thoughts and feelings on what we simply call, “September 11th.” I was surprised to read the reporter’s response.
Becky was the town sweetheart. The town is called Vinyl Haven. It is on the small island off the coast of Maine. By small I mean 9 miles by 13 miles. By small I mean only 1200 people. There is no bridge. You have to take a ferry to get there. As you can imagine Vinyl Haven is the kind of place where everyone knows everyone else, where everyone hears everything, and where nothing goes unnoticed. So, Becky was the town sweetheart and everyone knew it. That was fine as long as it lasted, but when she stopped being sweet and started doing drugs, everyone knew that too.
Today, we seem surrounded by dark and dreary news. Voices on the TV and the radio continue to warn about the dangers of national debt. It only goes up as our country fights three wars in three different countries. Meanwhile personal debt continues to grow as people try to make do while their jobs are cut and very few new ones are created. So, we have more children living in poverty now than we did ten years ago. That’s more children without healthy meals, more children who struggle to learn, more children who will be cold. Turn on the TV and you just see the leaders positioning themselves for power rather than using their power to improve everyone’s position. Poverty, joblessness, homelessness; these are forms of winter. We wonder where God is in all of this.
“Albert! It is forbidden!” the woman shouted down to the young boy. The boy was thinking about stealing an apple from the fruit cart on the street. He thought that if he just bumped into it and an apple fell from the cart it wouldn’t count as theft. The wise woman a few floors above him knew differently. He warning kept Albert on the straight and narrow path.
“You are the man!” Nathan shouted. It was a kind of “gotcha!” Nathan had just caught David in a trap. Here’s the short version of the story:
Josue Lajeunesse is a 40-year old custodian at Princeton University. I heard his story this last week. His story really begins as a young boy in a small town in Haiti. Like a lot of young children Josue and his brother had chores. It was their job to fetch the water for cooking and cleaning and drinking. The only problem was that there wasn’t any clean water in town. Josue and his brother and everyone else that lived in La Source needed to walk about 15 miles up a mountain to spring. It was a hard walk and it wasn’t always a safe walk.
There once was a man. People called him Lord. Many people believed that his father was the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords. They called him the Divine one. He looked down from the heavens and ruled over all the kingdoms of the earth. When his son was old enough he gave all the kingdoms of the world to him. Even though he was only a man, he called himself “son of the divine one.” It’s a very convenient title when you want to rule the world.
Last week and this week and the next few weeks we are listening to the last group of Psalms in the Bible. We’re listening to those songs that begin and end with a joyful, “Praise the Lord.” We’re calling them Psalms of resurrection because they cause us to raise our hands and lift our hearts. They call us to resurrect in our lives those qualities and characteristics that are worthy of the Lord’s praise. At the same time, they call us to lay down traits and behaviors that get in the way of praising the Lord. Last week, Psalm 146 called us to lay down ideology and resurrect theology in praise of the Lord. This week, Psalm 147, calls us to lay down that sense of accomplishment so that we can resurrect hope. Psalm 147 calls us to stop pursuing accomplishments and start living into hope.
When we think about praising God one of the first things we need to resurrect is theology. Theology? Really? What does theology have to do with praising God? We’ve all seen big, dusty theology books and it’s hardly the kind of reading that lifts our hearts to the Lord or raises our hands with shouts of joy. I understand. But before you get out your pen and start working on your grocery list, maybe it will be easier to understand our need to resurrect theology if we understand what we need to put away.