Brian’s Reflection: Wednesday, October 29, 2008
Through faith (wo)man experiences the meaning of the world;
through action (s)he is to give to it a meaning.[brackets mine]
- Leo Baeck, "Essence of Judaism"
We probably all remember Luther saying that we are saved by Faith alone. This is true (I believe) – though I am not at all sure exactly what “saved” means. One of my favourite theologians says very strongly that Jesus did not come to “save us from our sins”, but rather essentially to usher us/invite us into the Kingdom of God. I agree with him. Anyway, if “saved” has anything to do with getting free to accept the invitation into the Kingdom of God, I agree that it is through Faith and not through works. Bottom line: Freedom and absolution from unlove only comes through Love – and Love is only Grace-based. There ain’t no earning Love.
We had an interesting discussion about an aspect of this at our weekly Vespers liturgy tonight. (4-7 of us gather to be quiet, pray, share thoughts on the reading (or whatever), and then we eat and talk together. Dennis and I are happy to drive 80 miles to be a part of it.) We wondered, What is the core of the Gospel teaching? St. Paul was saying that “we are, in Christ’s flesh, made one”. We were wondering what that meant. We were agreed that oneness, and reconciliation, were at the heart of the Gospel; but we are confronted with 2000 years of Christianity, in which there seems to be little oneness or reconciliation amongst people, all of whom are “God’s people”. So, we wondered, what are we doing wrong? What are we not getting?
Faith clearly has taught me one reality about what the core of the Gospel is: Love. I hear others say that too - and yet there is an enormous gap, an enormous gap, between how people manifest that faith through action. Some denounce killing of any sort; some can justify horrific murder and violence on the same basis. I am both amazed and deeply confused – and I confess that it makes me cynical about religious institutions.
However, Baeck is correct, I think. It is important to know clearly (with room for learning new things) what the meaning of the World is. Faith, at its best, can help us to know this, combined with human wisdom. If we come to the belief that it is Love, then we must Act in Love.
Fr. Huntington, OHC, said: Love must act, as Light must shine, and Fire must burn”. In love, Christ gave up His life to witness, by vulnerability, to God’s Love. If we have faith in Compassion and Grace and Oneness and Reconciliation and Human Dignity, I think it’s time we started “acting up” a lot more!