- Isaiah 1:1, 10-20
- Psalm 50:1-8, 23-24
- Hebrews 11:1-3, 8-16
- Luke 12:32-40
This Sunday begins a four week, semi-continuous reading of Hebrews 11-13. The writer of Hebrews calls the followers of Christ to faith and describes faith as that which gives assurance to our hopes and convinces us of realities we do not see.
Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. Hebrews 11:1
Faith is a commitment to a reality we cannot prove, but that we know by experience. The story of Abraham and Sarah (Genesis 15:1-6, the alternate Old Testament reading) is used as an example of such faith and righteousness, as is the stories of Abel, Enoch, and Noah. By faith, all of these persons received their respective blessings; but to the ultimate blessing they could only look from afar (v. 13). Abraham and Sarah acknowledged that they were aliens in this world, seeking a better country prepared by God, “a heavenly one.” Such a faith was to be counted as righteousness.
Luke gives us another way to understand faith. Jesus gives teachings to illustrate that living a life of faith frees us from the fears and anxieties of daily life (12:22-31). Using the words “little flock” recalls Ezekiel’s description of Israel as a scattered flock with no shepherd. There God promises, “I myself will search for my sheep” (Ezekiel 34:11). Thus freed from anxiety, disciples must maintain an attitude of openness, prepared to respond immediately to the call of God.
The future is always faced with uncertainty, even panic. The unknown is always seen as more terrifying that the known, for we are not certain our coping behaviors have developed to meet the new challenges. Besides, we get accustomed to dealing with the familiar. It’s secure, like old bedroom slippers. Anything new might require us to reprogram ourselves altogether. And that we find a most threatening prospect. Again the question haunts us. Given the jostling and rapid change today, with future discoveries a boggle to the imagination, how does one face tomorrow without fear? How does one develop an inner hold to meet the invading forces of the yet-t0-be-born? Roger Sizemore in “Keeping in Touch”.
- Why do you think Luke addresses his followers as “little flock”? What does this phrase suggest to you about the relationship between Jesus and his disciples?
- Jesus also says, “Do not be afraid.” What is the connection between fear and faith?
- How would you define faith? Who has served as a model of faith for you?
- What is absent if anxiety is present? If your own life, what would it mean to be free of anxiety? What would you be free to do or become?
- In what sense are today’s disciples stewards in God’s household? What are some of our management responsibilities? To whom are we accountable?