Faith Rev Dr Durrell Watkins, Senior Minister Anonymous writer of Hebrews is writing to a Hebrew Christian community, encouraging them to be faithful during times of difficulty. The letter to the Hebrews reads like a sermon, and so by the final chapter, chapter 13, we see the writer sort of wrapping up with some concluding […]
Rev Dr Durrell Watkins, Senior Minister
Anonymous writer of Hebrews is writing to a Hebrew Christian community, encouraging them to be faithful during times of difficulty. The letter to the Hebrews reads like a sermon, and so by the final chapter, chapter 13, we see the writer sort of wrapping up with some concluding points:
Care about people in prison.
Be against torture.
Not just a list rules for being a decent human.
Examples of faithfulness.
People of faith want to be faithful, and faithful living involves kindness, compassion, generosity, and so on.
In Hebrews 11, the writer actually defines faith.
Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.
Trust that what is hoped for is possible; the vision of what is possible is what we can hold onto when our hopes aren’t yet being realized.
He’s writing to people who have been jailed, tortured, saved by the kindness and hospitality of others, who have been generous even when they didn’t have much, and who have benefited from the generosity of others.
It’s the picture of people in community being faithful to high ideals and principles so that lives can be made better, especially during difficult times.
By faith (Heb 11 says):
Abel gave the better gift (& was killed)
Noah prepared for difficult days (& was ridiculed)
Moses’ parents hid him for 3 months to keep him safe
Moses then grew to liberate his people from slavery; they escaped from Egypt & crossed the sea (Moses never made it to the Promised Land)
Rahab, not knowing what would come of it, gave spies a place to hide.
The writer says there’s not enough time to tell of all the people who were faithful, many of whom never saw results of their faithfulness. They “died in faith”…being faithful until the end, trusting that their efforts mattered even if they couldn’t see how.
We’ve seen that as well.
HIV…some survived, others didn’t, but they marched, volunteered, raised money, participated in drug trials…they were faithful even though they might not see the benefit, but others benefited from their faithfulness. We have received the blessings of faithfulness of others; others will receive the blessings of our faithfulness. As we all do what we can, the world is made better.
So, the call is for us as people of faith to be faithful.
To build a community that cares for the hurting.
To speak against injustice and oppression.
To worship regularly, pray daily, give generously, and to do so trusting that even when times are difficult, we are sowing seeds that will yield a harvest of blessings at some time for someone whether we ever see it or not, but just as our efforts will help others, we are being helped by the faithfulness of those who went before us. We are part of this divine system of reaping what we did not sow and sowing what we did not reap.
Will you covenant with me today, as people of faith, to be faithful for the sake of our world? If so, then we are the good news.
© Durrell Watkins 2016
Faith is the substance of things hoped for…
The evidence of things not seen.
As a person of faith…
I live in the power of faith.
And so it is.
Uplifting Spirituality Rev Dr Durrell Watkins, Senior Minister The woman in the gospel today suffered from a spirit for almost two decades. The spirit was an attitude, a negative attitude, an oppressive attitude, a mental energy that influenced how she felt about herself. That’s the spirit we see doing great harm in the woman’s life. […]
Rev Dr Durrell Watkins, Senior Minister
The woman in the gospel today suffered from a spirit for almost two decades.
The spirit was an attitude, a negative attitude, an oppressive attitude, a mental energy that influenced how she felt about herself.
That’s the spirit we see doing great harm in the woman’s life.
That negative spirit is the result of a negative use of religion and we see that acted out in the story itself. The woman goes to a lot of trouble to get to a worship service. She walks even though walking is painful and slow. She labors to get there. Worship is so important to her…she so wants to sing the songs, to hear the prayers, to listen to the scriptures presented, to share her offering, to see familiar and hopefully friendly faces, to experience human touch, that she limps and labors all the way to synagogue.
This woman is faithful. Even though her life is difficult and her body is racked with pain, worship is important to her. She won’t even let infirmity keep her away.
Jesus notices her, and does what a good person would do – he offers her kindness. He notices her. He speaks to her. He acknowledges her presence and her sacred value. He blesses her. And his interaction with her changes her life. In his human touch, through his human kindness, she experiences the healing love of God. And her condition improves.
But then notice what happens. The religious leaders chastise her!
Healing is considered work, and work is forbidden on the sabbath. But Jesus notices her here, now, today. Why wait to show compassion?
For Jesus, love isn’t work. It’s his nature. It’s what he believes God is, and so to share love with her is to simply acknowledge God within her. It has become effortless for him.
But even so, Jesus is the healer in the story, but who gets in trouble? The woman!
They fuss at her. “You have the rest of the week to seek healing; how dare you get your healing on today?!”
But she didn’t come to be healed! She just came to be with people, to give her offering, to sing hymns and say prayers and hear the scriptures. She came to worship, that’s all. She got healed, but that wasn’t her agenda. She just demonstrated what Jesus taught in the sermon on the mount – Seek first a deeper experience of the divine, and other amazing things will be added to you!
The legalism of her religious community would rather her suffer than for her to deviate from their dogma. How is that godly? How is that even fully human?
Religious legalism, fundamentalism, has crippled many people. But spirituality is meant to be uplifting. The woman in the story is bent over from the weight of oppressive theology, but Jesus liberates her. He has said before that the commandments can be boiled down to just love. And so he loves her, and sadly, that’s a new experience for her in a religious setting, but it changes her life.
Denominationalism never healed anyone.
Dogma never healed anyone.
Tradition never healed anyone.
Being shamed never healed anyone.
Being condemned never healed anyone.
But being loved for who one is, being seen and appreciated for who one is, that enriches, empowers, and even saves lives.
Do you know today that you are loved, just as you are?
God loves you unconditionally and forever.
As we embrace this truth, we can rise to our potential.
We can be uplifted.
We can learn to trust that we deserve peace and joy in our lives.
We can be set free from the tormenting fear that we aren’t good enough.
We can be healed from the lie that we were ever or could ever be separated from the love that God is.
That’s the message of Jesus, and this is the good news. Amen.
© Durrell Watkins 2016
The message of Jesus lifts me up!
The past no longer weighs me down.
I give thanks for the liberating Good News.
Her Story Minister Ty Bradley
Minister Ty Bradley
Plug Into God Rev Dr Durrell Watkins
Plug Into God
Rev Dr Durrell Watkins