I had an email exchange with a friend of mine this week. She has not been to church in a while. As I listened to her story I remembered a story I once heard.
There was a young priest who had been serving his parish for a few years. He began to realize that he did not believe any more and found himself plagued by doubts. He became deeply concerned about his doubts and reported them to his bishop as a confession.
The bishop was silent for a long time. Then he looked at the priest and said, “It doesn’t matter, it doesn’t matter. Return to the practice of faith and faith will return.”
There is something about the practices of faith, worship, prayer, study of scripture, receiving the sacrament of communion, which strengthen our faith and renew our faith. This too is grace.
Return to the practice of faith and faith will return is an important point to keep in mind, when doubts plague and depression lingers close. Sometimes, Christian practice comes before deep understanding.
When you forgive someone, then you will know why it is essential that Christians forgive. When you pray, then you will understand why prayer is essential. When you love, then you will understand the love God has for you. When you choose to be a follower of Jesus, then you will understand that Jesus chose you.
Mar 27, 2011 pm service
Pastor Nate Van Denend
[audio:http://www.maranathacrcwoodbridge.ca/wp-content/uploads/sermons/2011-03-27-pm.mp3|titles=Mar 27, 2011 pm sermon]
There was a young boy who listened carefully to his father’s prayers.
Every night before dinner his father would ask the Lord for many things, including that the Lord would “protect the family from all harm and danger.”
As the boy grew older he was given an opportunity to pray at the evening prayer. Wishing to follow his father’s example, the boy prayed, “Our Lord, please protect us from Mr. Herman Danger.”
As I thought about this story, I wondered how often we really pay attention to the words we are saying when we pray. The other day, I prayed the Lord’s prayer. Our Father who art in heaven. Then I thought, I am alone, so perhaps I could pray “My father who is in heaven.”
Instantly I thought of my own father. I had never really reflected on the metaphorical connection before. Changing the word “our” to “my,” made a difference. Like the boy in the story who thought his father was praying about “Mr. Herman Danger,” I think I always took the phrase “Our Father” to be a name for God, like Lord, or YHWH. By saying “my Father,” I became aware of the closeness and relationality of God. Jesus says, “if you, though evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more your Father in heaven?” Matt 7.
God reveals himself as the perfect Father, who cares for, listens to, and provides for his children.