The Meaning of Jesus Restoration.
Sermon Rev Charmaine Braatvedt
As I reflected on the readings set for today, one phrase jumped out at me and would not leave me alone.
It was the phrase from 1 Thessalonians 3:10 where
Paul is commending and encouraging the people of Thessalonica and then he says:
‘Night and day we pray most earnestly that we may see you again and restore what is lacking in your faith.’ “Restore what is lacking in your faith”. Faith, it can be said, is the gate-way into spirituality.
It is like the bridge that connects us and establishes us in a relationship with God.
Thus we could say that the search for an authentic faith is also the search for an authentic relationship with God.
As with all relationships, being in relationship with God requires commitment and a willingness to spend time and energy working on that relationship if it is to grow and deepen and that work of growing our faith is a holistic process that engages not only our thinking and intellectual processes but also those non-cognitive parts of us like our emotions, our longings, our aspirations, dreams, hopes, fears, desires, drives and intuitions.
Building Faith is challenging.
It requires us to think bigger than the limitations of concrete thinking and then bigger still. It may take us along paths we sometimes would rather not go, challenge us to entertain concepts and possibilities we cannot easily understand; shift us outside our comfort zones to confront things about ourselves that we are not keen to look at; take us to lonely places, where those near and dear to us either feel they cannot go or are unwilling to go with us.
It may challenge us to surrender cherished illusions and prejudices and horror of horrors, to embrace change and transformation.
Small wonder then that Paul, felt the need to support the Thessalonians in their faith journey!
Paul knew as well as you and I know, that while we live in this world our faith journey is never complete.
Not only do we run the risk that we might go astray, fall back or even lose our faith, but there is always something more that we must learn and there is always more growing that we must do as we build our relationship with God.
Now I am not sure where you are in your faith journey today, but I would like to suggest that you are here today because at very least one of the following statements will ring true for you: you have an interest in matters spiritual.
You perhaps have had some wake-up calls that have reminded you that your faith journey is important. You feel the immediacy of something more in life that cannot be accounted for in the secular world.
You know that you are alive today and that one day you will die and you feel an urgency of finding your place in the world before you vacate it so to speak.
You aspire to an honest and authentic faith because you feel it would be dishonest to deny the existence of a spiritual dimension to life.
Perhaps you have some disquiet about confessing some of the basic creeds and doctrines of the church but all in all you would like to build and grow your faith.
Advent, the time set aside for spiritual preparation for the coming of Christ. It offers you me an opportunity to take stock of where we are in our faith and to build our faith and to move into a deeper relationship with God.
I once read about a musician who asked a famous conductor what was the most important thing to learn about playing the big cymbal.
The conductor answered that the most important thing to learn was when, when to crash the cymbal.
Advent is a good time for you and me to take stock of our faith….
Time to crash the big cymbal!
So where are you in your faith?
Wherever you are, know that you are not alone.
So often people feel lonely in a crowd, they think that they are the only ones with doubts or who think a certain way. Let me assure you, nothing could be further from the truth, sitting in these pews are people who will