April 18 – Facts, Faith and Hope

Mafa057.largeFaith leads to a knowledge of truth that is deeper than fact and to a hope that never disappoints.

The first Sunday in May our Confirmation students will begin to create their faith statements in preparation for their public confession of faith and formal welcome into the membership of the church on the first Sunday in June.  It will be the most important writing they do this year – more important than any term paper or book report, Facebook post or text message.  It may be the most important writing not just of their first fourteen or fifteen years; it may be the most important thing they ever write. Ever.

In preparing to write their faith statements, they will be reminded of other such statements, creeds – credo, “I believe,” they have studied during the year.  The words of their faith statements will be their own, however.

One of the exercises they will do before they start writing has to do with distinguishing between

  • Facts – It is 72 degrees and there are no clouds in the  sky
  • Opinions – I think sunny days are better than cloudy days
  • Feelings – I’m so happy that it’s a sunny day
  • Wishes – I hope it’s sunny tomorrow

And

  • Faith – the assurance of things hoped for and the conviction of things unseen.

The hope of faith is not wishful thinking; it is a confidence in a promise made and in the one who made the promise. The conviction of faith is filled with facts and is a willingness to do something and be someone based on the conclusions drawn from the facts and by the promises. Faith leads to a knowledge of truth that is deeper than fact and to a hope that never disappoints.

  • Truth – The sun rises on the just and unjust alike (Matthew 5:45)
  • Hope – Weeping may tarry for the night, but joy comes with the morning. (Psalm 30:5)

That other Son rise, the resurrection of Jesus Christ is at the center of Christian faith.  “He is risen indeed!” the faithful say.

Fact: Jesus of Nazareth was crucified.  The historicity of the crucifixion is questioned only by fools. The stone had been rolled away and the tomb was empty; it’s a historical fact of the sort that is accepted as fact by any objective standard.  Jesus appeared to the women and the twelve and to then over 500 at one time (1 Corinthians 15:6 ) – a phenomena that defies an explanation of wishful thinking or hallucination.

Truth, the conviction of things unseen: In Christ all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross (Colossians 1:19-20).

Hope, the assurance of the promise and the one who has promised: Because he lives, I also will live. In that day I will know that He is in the Father, and I in Him, and He in me.  (John 16:19-20)

Sunday’s call to worship is the shortest of the year. “He is risen!” I will say, and the people will shout back, “He is risen indeed!”  Then brass and bells, organ, choir and congregation will join in joyful hymn, “Christ the Lord is risen today! Alleluia!”

He is risen – a faith-filled fact.

Lives again our glorious king;
Where, O death, is now your sting?
Jesus died, our souls to save;
Where your victory, O grave? – faith-filled truth and hope.

Our call to worship will be the shortest of the year: “He is risen!” “He is risen indeed!”  The faith-filled fact on which faith-filled truth and hope are built.

The call to worship may be my favorite part of Sunday’s worship service.

See you Sunday!