The Substance of Faith

The Substance of Faith

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Seven Conversations

I’ve never been on Facebook.  I’m one of the few Ludites left who is concerned about privacy.  Therefore, I’ve not seen firsthand the interest in one of my sermons on parenting that has resurfaced.  I appreciate the kind words that have been forwarded about it

Based on that sermon, several  parents have asked, “What are the questions to ask our children?”   Since I entered retirement, I’ve been working on a book about this idea.  The current title is Seven Conversations.  I won’t try to preview the whole book here but in response to texts and emails, here are the basics:

How can we wait? Teaches delayed gratification.

How can you do that yourself?  Teaches independence.

What shall we eat? Invites the family to a common table.

What are we thankful for?  Teaches gratitude.

What shall we give? Teaches generosity.

What shall we pray for?  Instills faith.

I’ll save the seventh as a tease.  I’ll get to another post soon to explain why these questions and qualities are important.

If you are interested in more about parenting, scroll right and read my post “The Lottery,” if you dare.


 

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The Antidote for Suffering

Second Sunday of Easter – Year B

Acts 4:32-35

The Antidote for Suffering

From Morguefile.com

Suffering implies some sort of pain. It may be the physical pain of illness, the hunger of poverty, the emotions of grief, or the shock of betrayal. One way or another, suffering includes pain.

Our society today is obsessed with remedies for pain. We consume vast quantitates of medications designed to mask the reasons for physical pain. We spend time with therapists and absorb countless self-help books in a quest to eradicate the pain of guilt. People hook up to avoid the pain of loneliness.   As one song says, “Some drink to remember. Some drink to forget.” Both sides of the equation are about pain.

The list of the ways we look for an antidote to suffering is endless.

This passage for the Second Sunday after Easter suggests a different approach.   It suggests community as a way to deal with suffering.   A community is group of people committed to one another – and a common approach to life. In the case of the early church, it is a commitment to the risen Christ.

32 The community of believers was one in heart and mind. None of them would say, “This is mine!” about any of their possessions, but held everything in common. 33 The apostles continued to bear powerful witness to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and an abundance of grace was at work among them all. 34 There were no needy persons among them. Those who owned properties or houses would sell them, bring the proceeds from the sales, 35 and place them in the care and under the authority of the apostles. Then it was distributed to anyone who was in need. (CEV)

The testimony of the Word is that the member of the early church shared completely in this community and the suffering of want was eliminated. Community was the antidote to suffering.

This type of radical community has rarely been practiced in the history of the church. Many of us can name a few communities who have practiced it – primarily because they are well known due to their departure from the way most of us live – including me.

Too radical for you? Think of other examples where community mitigates suffering. Twelve-Step groups find their power in community. When crisis strikes, we ask for the prayers of as many people as we can because we find comfort in the prayers of Christian community. Don’t we often ask, “How do people get by in dire circumstances without Christian friends?”   That question is simply a way of asking, “How do people handle suffering without community?”

Perhaps these more common ways of alleviating  our suffering by gathering together might be hints that the radical community of the early church is not an ancient practice, long discarded; rather, it is a timeless practice waiting for people of faith to discover its full power.

 

 

 

 

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