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Faith

Season Lahr



I have come to realize that it is almost impossible to separate ourselves from what I will call core memories. I define those as the events in our lives that shape how we begin to talk about our lives and how we begin to respond to things that happen. They are the things that add to our definition of ourselves. The events that cause the twists and turns in the journey. My own, forgive the former English teacher, plot twists are my parents’ divorce, my decision to be a teacher, fasting from dating, eloping with Steven, pregnancy loss, and Peter. I’m sure there are smaller little hills and curves that provide sub-plots to the story of Season, but these are the ones that I find influence my conversation and my faith.


Faith…that’s the point of the above. It seems I cannot talk about faith without talking about miscarriage. On January 27, 2020, Steven and I found out we were pregnant for the fifth time. It was exciting and terrifying. After much prayer and discussion, we chose not to have the “every other day” blood tests to determine HCG levels in that first week. In the past it caused immense anxiety. We did schedule the early ultrasound at six weeks, though we were apprehensive about that as well. By that point we had experienced six ultrasounds–two cautioning us about the heartbeat and size of the baby, three confirming the loss of the baby, and one confirming my endangered life {as an aside, if you’re reading, we didn’t have an ultrasound with baby four}. February 11, 2020, we would once again hold our breaths in an ultrasound room. Somewhere between January 27 and February 11, I bought a baby clothes pattern for onesies and pants.


Faith. I committed to that pregnancy, to that baby, despite the evidence stacked against it. And I wanted to mark that commitment with something tangible.


In our scriptures today, we are pointed to faith. Abram steps out on faith and leaves his home. He commits to the promise God has given him. Paul uses that story to help us see that Abram could not boast in his own works. He was not blessed because of what he did, but because of that in which he had faith. And sweet, muddled Nicodemus. I choose to believe he just needed a little extra wait time to mull these things over.


We have the benefit of the wait time that is not recorded for Nicodemus.


One of the most well-known verses in scripture is in our readings today. It is probably one of the first five verses I committed to memory. John 3:16. Steven and I spent some time researching the word “believes” that is used in that verse. We both appreciate a good word study when discerning what God is trying to tell us. Here’s what we found. The Greek form of the word, which I won’t attempt to pronounce, is rooted in ‘commit to one’s trust’, ‘faith’, or ‘fidelity’. It is possible to translate the verse “that everyone who has faith in him may not perish.” It is our faith in who Jesus says he is that brings us to him. It is being committed to the promises we know he has given us through Abram, through scripture, and in our own prayers.


I imagine Nicodemus was confused. A man who spent his life following law and being told that law saved. This would have been a very different promise for him to wrap his mind around. I imagine that Nicodemus was a man of action. I imagine him thinking, but what do I do? Law is about action. Faith, well, it’s a gift. It is something that grows through those bumps and curves and twists on your journey. It doesn’t seem as solid a ground as law. And that can be scary.


You don’t have to DO anything except have faith. I don’t mean to imply that this is easy. Fidelity and commitment are often quite difficult. We can’t do it without grace from God and grace from others. And, honestly, as Jesus illustrates with his wind analogy, I don’t really know where faith comes from. I see its impact and its power–in my life, in others–and in that way I am refreshed and empowered to renew my own commitment. Much like my purchase of a pattern, I find that when I mark my faith with an action, I feel that I am showing God how much I commit to what He has promised to me. I show Him not only my faith in Him, but my love for Him.


It is faith that brings us to the table. It is with faith that we accept these promises from God the Father, through Christ His Son, with the help of the Holy Spirit.


AMEN.


Sermon preached at Saint Michael Lutheran Church on March 5, 2023, by Season Lahr.

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