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Faith Seeking Understanding

This week, I attended a webinar in which I heard the Rev. Jamie Washam (of THE 1st Baptist Church in America, in Providence, RI)[i] ask, “As confederate memorials are coming down, what kinds of memorials are we building in their place?” It’s an important question.

Recent months have changed our world in ways that will be permanent. Yes, what we are currently living won’t be with us forever, but there will be changes that will stay. Some of them will be positive: perhaps we have gained a greater sense of compassion for each other and a greater ability to see oppression and cry out for justice. Some of the ongoing changes will be negative: perhaps we will continually fear one another or will walk around with a fear of our own mortality in ways that keep us from living God’s call. In some ways our minds have been opened to new realities, but in other ways the experiences of the past few months have closed our minds as well.

What memorials are we building now? What will be important to remember about 2020? What do we want the history books to say about us? What have we learned?

It is important, I believe, for us to open ourselves this season to consider more what we have learned than what we might teach one another. This is particularly important to us as people of faith. Perhaps we are used to letting faith/the bible/the church instruct every ounce of life. Perhaps we prefer to say, “the bible says…” or “my church says…” or “Christianity says…” and we prefer to have easy answers when difficult questions arise.

That’s never been the point of Christianity. Christianity is, as the old monk Anselm of Canterbury said, “Faith seeking understanding.”[ii] Christianity is a room where we can ask questions, not a structure through which we impose answers. Christianity is about learning anew, over and over, throughout our lives.

And so, today, I ask each of us: What have we Learned? What do we still not know? When the history books are written about this time, will they record it as a time of great learning? Will it be a renaissance? A time of rebirth and innovation? My prayer is that it will, and that when the statues of yesterday disappear, there will be memorials to new understandings, increased knowledge, and new definitions.

So now, I leave you with a question for this week… how is your faith seeking understanding?

Still full of Questions, by the Grace of God,

Pastor Steph

[i] Jamie Washam. Space For Grace: You Are Not Alone. (American Baptist Home Mission Societies, 2020).

[ii] Anselm of Canterbury. Proslogium. 1077.

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