Wednesday, December 26, 2018

Resolve to Keep the Faith this New Year!

If you are going to make a New Year's resolution to improve or change your life, why not resolve to keep the faith this year? Make a simple promise to God:  "I will not depart from you" or "I will stick with you through thick and thin."   In a sense, I am asking you to make a resolution to hold your life together.  I am all for improvement, but sometimes focusing too much on areas we need to get better leads us to neglect the necessary maintenance of the things that should stay the same.    For example, if you adopt some fad diet that leads you too tired to keep up your exercise routine that could hardly be called progress.

The Hebrew word for faithfulness אֱמוּנָה (amunah) derives from the root verb meaning to make firm or to give support.  This makes sense when you think about the story of the people of Israel.   There is a long list crazy, tragic and horrible events that this people has had to endure, yet they still hold onto their God despite the mess of living in a broken world.   The gift of the Old Testament is that it shows that staying with God is just as important as coming to God is in the first place.

The other important thing to realize is that faithfulness is not just between you and God.   It affects all your relationships with those you meet every day.   People who are faithful are a blessing to those around them.  They help provide some stability in an ever-changing world.    A great example of this is when Paul writes to the Philippians   It is by your holding fast to the word of life that I can boast on the day of Christ that I did not run in vain or labor in vain. Philippians 2:16 (NRSV)

You have probably heard of the idea of being a "non-anxious presence."   The simple wisdom behind this idea is that anxiety is contagious like a virus.   A steadfast and faithful person can be likened to one who is inoculated against the virus of anxiety.  It not only helps the person vaccinated it dampens the transmission of the pathogen.    Part of the problem our society faces in our current age is that too many people a running to too many fad ideas and have left solid faith of our ancestors behind.   This means there are less non-anxious people out there to help stop the spread of the crazy.

Please understand I when I say to keep the Faith, I am not reducing it mere personal piety.   We will still need to feed, the hungry, care for the sick, visit the prisoner, and lift up the lowly because as the Word teaches us this is just as much a part of our faith as is our prayer, scripture reading, and worship are.   Serving as others as our Lord does us is at the core of the faith I am asking you to stay with.   So perhaps with Martin Luther we can pray the words of the hymn Lord Keep Us Steadfast in Your Word. 

Lord, keep us steadfast in Your Word;
Curb those who by deceit or sword
Would wrest the kingdom from Your Son
And bring to naught all Christ has done.

Lord Jesus Christ, Your pow'r make known,
For You are Lord of lords alone;
Defend Your holy Church that we
May sing your praise eternally.

O Comforter of priceless worth,
Send peace and unity on earth;
Support us in our final strife
And lead us out of death to life.

Wishing you a blessed New Year and that you keep the Faith!

Pastor Knecht