Thursday, January 8, 2015

Holding Faith

Recently, I encountered a new idea (new to me, at least) twice in the same week. When that happens, I take notice and this occurred during the week of Christmas, so the idea found me in an especially contemplative state.

The first time I heard it was from the pastor at Greenfield Presbyterian, during one of the most child-friendly services I have ever encountered (dinosaurs and Spiderman were part of the nativity scene. True story.). We had joined our close friends and their church community for a holiday potluck and then ended up staying around for the service, since I can never say no to singing Christmas carols and lighting candles.


The second time I heard it was sometime between 4 and 6 AM, two days after Christmas, as I drove the first leg of our family trip to Greensboro. While Jason and the girls slept, I drank hot tea and listened to On Being to stay alert. It was an episode with Nadia Bolz-Weber, the pastor and founder of the House for All Sinners and Saints in Denver, and I highly recommend giving it a listen.

So, the idea references the Apostles' Creed, a statement of the Christian church's beliefs recited during religious services, and it goes something like this (not a direct quote, just my best recollection):

"If we're being truly honest, no one believes every word of the creed. However, if every one of us believes part of it, then together we can hold the faith in its entirety. This is why we need a community of faith."

This struck me on several levels, and for each it brought a profound sense of relief.

As the 2014 holiday season unfolded, I found myself in a funk, and I know I wasn't alone in that. My particular funk was a combination of loss, painful relationships, and feelings of helplessness and hopelessness in reaction to recent episodes of racism, reactive fear, and injustice in our country, mixed with general holiday stress, of course. When New Year's Day arrived, it felt less like a rejuvenating reset and more like an re-engagement with continuing struggles. Can you relate?

Feeling this way, I spent a good part of the holidays cocooned with my immediate family - just Jason, Cadence, Laurel, and me. I felt like I needed a break from the world, so I checked out of media for a while and we declined most social invitations. I made sure that any commitments on our family calendar involved only people and activities that brought us comfort, support, and joy. For myself, I made sure to spend quality time with a few of the people in my life with whom I always have healing conversations.

So, here's the thing: Yes, there was (is) a lot of pain, loss, helplessness, and reasons to assume the fetal position and hide. But, as I reflect on the past few weeks, I can see more clearly the faith community that surrounds me. The people who help me remember: We can do better. The path of honesty and gentleness is always worthwhile. There is always hope and a chance for grace. There is always another way. In the end, love wins.

When I'm feeling hopeless and losing faith in my personal creed, I know there is someone in my circle who believes at least some of it and, all together, we hold this faith in its entirety. It is such a relief that I don't have to carry it all on my own and, with that burden released, I can continue moving forward.

My 2015 wish for you is that you are able to recognize and nurture the faith community surrounding you and supporting your personal creed. I am so grateful for your presence here and the opportunity to play a small part in that community.

Holding the faith, honestly and gently,
Mary

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Light of the World by Courtney Carmodycc license


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