fragile faithfulness

About a month ago, one of my favorite bloggers wrote a post outlining his beliefs. He titled it Why I am a Christian. Recently, I had a chance to spell out some of beliefs and read it in front of the people that I will be working with this summer. This summer, I will be working at Broad Street Ministries, which is Presbyterian and located in Philadelphia. I will be working with five other persons teaching youth groups the importance of being a prophetic voice in their own communities. With that in mind, here is my statement of faith:

“God, rid me of God” – Meister Eckhart

“And your skin taste much better with aging not sweet like it was back in our Sunday school.” – Manchester Orchestra

I can not understand faith without performance. Rooted in the Pentecostal tradition, I was taught that it was through spiritual gifts that God’s Spirit used us for the work of the kin-dom. Yet, this tradition lost its fruitfulness for me, since I did not desire these Pentecostal spiritual gifts. These gifts scared/scarred me as a child and made it very unlikely that I would ever want to perform them. Thus I moved onto the Baptist church which taught me that today God only speaks through Scripture. I stayed faithful to them for over 6 years, learning much about Scripture, and memorized many important verses. Yet, there came a point when  I was no longer happy with only delighting in Scripture and started to ask some critical questions that made my church uneasy. I left eventually left the Baptist church, and sought out a new community of believers.I found one that asked critical questions about Scripture, itself, and the Christian life. This, for me, was the Episcopal Church.

They gathered around the Eucharist each Sunday recognizing that each one comes to the table with different convictions and faith, yet realize that they are part of one body. This was transformational for me and liberated my past church experiences.

Since then I have been in school and majored in theology. My interests have varied from the Anabaptist ethics of John Howard Yoder, Catholic social teaching, postmodern theology, liberation theology, ancient Christianity, especially Origen, and most currently, different contextual theologies. Residue still sticks from my past ideas of theologies and must always keep them in check, since absolute certainty is always knocking at my door.

Faith then does not come easy for me. I find it hard to believe after learning  of the historical underpinnings that are part of the Church, the Judeans, and other religions. I stay true to Christianity partly because it was the tradition that I was brought up in. It has always been a home for me, although there have been times of great contention. Another reason is because of the book by Huston Smith called “The World’s Religions.” Marcus Borg paraphrasing from this book writes,

“If what you’re looking for is water, better to dig one well sixty feet deep than to dig six wells ten feet deep. By living more deeply into our own tradition as a sacrament of the sacred, we become more centered in the one to whom the tradition points and in whom we live and move and have our being.”

The last reason that I have found Christianity appealing is because I have tested God through Jesus more times than I can count and each time Jesus has been more faithful to me than I will ever be to myself. It was God who was there during my times of suffering and by my side as I dared to start a new life afterwards.

…My faith is fragile…

If I were to boil it down, my theology focuses on hope. Hope that God will take care of all when everything ends. Hope that when people suffer, God suffers alongside them. Hope that when people love, God loves alongside them. And everything in between.

Hope that God is the end all be all

Published by brother timothie

I am a graduate of Union Theological Seminary in New York City. My interests include constructive theologies, liberation theologies, documentaries, far-left politics, homelessness ministries, creative liturgies, poetry, and pop culture.

2 thoughts on “fragile faithfulness

  1. Thanks for sharing these thoughts on your journey of faith and toward hope. It is a story that I am sure echoes that of many people and it is always wonderful to hear someone else share their experience, strength, and hope, as well as their vulnerability and fragility. The one response I might make is to the analogy of tradition as a well. One might also make the comparison to looking for water at spring head. If you just keep digging in one place, you will never find it. Water, like faith, can be elusive. You may have to dig around a little bit in different spots to find out where the water is really coming from and then you can start doing the work of digging out a channel for it to flow through.

  2. That was an absolutely extraordinary and genuine commentary on faith. You help me respect Christianity in a way that I had lost, and although my only ties to the faith is my utmost reverence towards Jesus, I realize that even a mystic can hold unto her roots.

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