29 November 2020
"The Hope that Comes from Faith"
In the Book of Hebrews we read these words, "Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen." The writer of Hebrews then goes on to remind the readers about those who have gone before them. The old stories of Abraham who set out not knowing where he was going because he had a hope of something more, beyond what he knew. Faith, meant he actually got out and travelled towards that hope. Faith enables us to act when everything seems to be dead and finished because we have hope that things can change despite everything that seems to indicate otherwise. Faith itself being a gift of God for the work of God in each of us and in God's future.
Renewed faith leads to action and actions done in the hope of God's future change the world.
Tony Campalo [an American author, preacher and lecturer] went with a question to college and university students asking them what they hope for in the twenty-first century.. He reports that "First of all, they say they really hope that people become more caring. They are sensitive to the fact that something is getting lost in the world. For example -They go to banks and deal with machines instead of tellers. They sense that personal connections are evaporating, that we are becoming a mechanized people in a mechanized world and they want the human touch.
They want to become caring people. They want to care for people who are going through trouble, for people who are hungry. They sense that caring is at the core of the Christian faith.: "We want our hearts to be broken by the things that break the heart of Jesus." What a good statement to care that way. We have to care for people--people who experience prejudice, privation, discrimination."
Then Tony goes on to do just what the writer to the Hebrews does and tells a story of the faith of the church in action. "During World War II there was an incredible man who cared. His name was Metropolitan Cyrill. He was from Bulgaria. an ally of Nazi Germany during World War II. In spite of that fact, Hitler was not able to round up a single Jew in Bulgaria, primarily because of the leaders of the church there. They stood against Hitler. They cared for their Jewish brothers and sisters and they hung tough when the time came.
They rounded up the Jews and had them down at the train station ready to load them on the trains to ship them off to Auschwitz. It was the midnight hour. Suddenly at the end of the boulevard leading to the train station, there appeared this great church leader dressed in black with a beard that came down to his waist. He stood 6"5' to start with but those Orthodox priests have miters on top of their heads so he must have looked like a giant.. Suddenly this man appeared with about a thousand church people behind him. He strode down the boulevard, the church people marching behind him in silence in the dead of the night.
They surrounded the enclave of Jews. The SS Troopers tried to keep them out. Metropolitan Cyrill just laughed at them, pushed their guns aside, and marched among the Jews. As the Jews gathered around them, he raised his hands and with one verse of scripture changed the destiny of a nation. He quoted from the Book of Ruth. He said this to the Jews as they gathered around him hysterically, ready to be shipped off to Auschwitz: "Whithersoever thou goest, I will go. Your people will be my people. Your God will be my God." This was a man of courage. This was a man who cared" .and a church which had faith
The young people said to Tony , "We have hopes and dreams for the future." Indeed they do.
Faith in Christ and surrendering to God and being open to the guidance of the Holy Spirit, these are the good things that create this future. Listen again to the verse, "Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen."
May this be our faith, the faith of our church community. May God bless you with faith.
Rev. Margaret Anne Low
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