Before Emmaline started her first week of kindergarten, my mom gave her a special gift. It was a necklace, very similar to the one she had had as a child. When my mom was younger, she had worn a necklace that she treasured that she held close around her neck, especially when times were tough. It was a mustard seed necklace and my mom shared with Emmaline about having faith as small as a mustard seed was still enough to get her through tough times. She told Emmaline to squeeze it tight and remember that if she was nervous that first week of school, or didn’t know the answer, or didn’t have a friend nearby, she could squeeze that necklace pendant and know that even the smallest bit of faith made a world of difference. And that God would be with her.
This past Sunday, Pastor David preached on faith and how it manifests itself in our walk with Jesus. We watched a clip from the movie, O Brother Where Art Thou, of the scene of a community river baptism. We asked the question together as a church if having faith was all there is. In other words, is it just about belief or does Jesus require more of us.
Galatians 2:15-21 was our Scripture text on Sunday morning where we talked about the Apostle Paul’s words to both his original audience and the way his words speak directly to our hearts today. We reflected on our own sin and contemplated how we had missed the mark. For whatever reason, in our Post-Christian world mindset, we really don’t like to dwell on our sin or speak aloud how we have missed the mark. I will tell you though, I have only been up and functioning for about three hours now and I have already had to apologize and ask forgiveness from two people I love most, because I miss the mark more times than I care to share. While early on in ministry I struggled to admit my failures or show my weaknesses, I have learned over 11 years of being a pastor and almost 8 years of counseling and Spiritual Direction, just how life-giving the naming of sin and the admittance of failures can be. This is part of why I will always encourage using the Confession and Pardon liturgy during our sacrament of Holy Communion. Here are the words again:
We confess that we have not loved you with our whole heart.
We have failed to be an obedient church.
We have not done your will,
we have broken your law,
we have rebelled against your love,
we have not loved our neighbors,
and we have not heard the cries of the needy.
FORGIVE US we pray.
FREE US for joyful obedience
through Jesus Christ our Lord.