The writer of the letter to the Hebrews, whom scholars believe is not Paul, is a theologian and a storyteller. The eleventh chapter begins by setting out the direction and the definition of faith. Faith is an orientation to the future. For the writer, faith is not a set of beliefs, though we often use faith as a noun when we refer to “the Jewish faith or the Christian faith.” But faith is better understood as a verb, a foundational base of trust in God as we move into an unknown future. Faith is stepping out, leaning forward, and trusting that God goes before us.
Faith does not depend on proof or visible results. Faith draws our heart toward a new relationship, hopes for a bright future, and invites us to sail toward a new horizon or march to a new country. For the author, even creation, which God called into being and which can be seen, testifies to the unseen hand of God.
We walk by faith and hope, believing the work we do, the kindness we share, and the care we offer make a difference.
I recently visited the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial in Washington, D.C. The statue by sculptor Lei Yixin renders Dr. King’s bust protruding from a large granite rock as if he were carved out of a large mountain. Many see and have claimed the monument as a stone of hope hued out of a mountain of despair. As a person of faith, Dr. King walked toward an uncertain future, let go of the status quo, and marched forward as a “drum major” for justice.
Holy and loving Creator, teach us to grab your hand as we step forward on curving trails, stony paths, or barren deserts. Give us confidence in your love, guidance, and care as we risk bold ventures, conviction to speak up when we see injustice, and strength to live each day as instruments of your peace and compassion. Amen.
The prophet Isaiah brings a harsh message to the Southern Kingdom of Israel. Although they are performing sacrifices and observing feasts, they have lost their heart for God. God wants no more meaningless sacrifices but instead wants the people to repent. The psalmist proclaims a similar message from God. The people’s sacrifices have become pointless because they have forgotten God. The primary offerings that God desires are thanksgiving and ethical living. The author of Hebrews sounds a note of harmony, emphasizing that Abraham’s faith in action—not his performance of religious duties—brings him favor with God. Jesus teaches that we cannot rest on our laurels of having faith. Instead we should remain vigilant and continue to perform acts of charity, including caring for the poor, as a response to our faith.
Read Isaiah 1:1, 10-20. Consider the author’s difficult questions: Is there blood on your hands? Does your worship lead you to acts of mercy and justice?
Read Psalm 50:1-8, 22-23. How do you offer thanksgiving as sacrifice and go in the right way?
Read Hebrews 11:1-3, 8-16. How do you demonstrate faith as a verb, not just a noun?
Read Luke 12:32-40. God promises us a bountiful kingdom, but we cannot take our worldly possessions there. How do you work toward living as if you are already in God’s bountiful kingdom? How do you help to create it?
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