Faith is more than Ritual

This week’s lectionary readings speak to faith. Hebrew’s 11:1 tells us – “preachNow faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.”- NRSV

This definition of faith reminds me of a quote by Saint Francis of Assisi –

I really appreciated the paraphrase of the bible in The Message this week, for their version of Psalm 50. I included below the whole psalm, more than the lectionary includes.

This psalm is harsh. It calls out the people of Israel  – “Why should I want your blue-ribbon bull or more goats from your herds? …every creature of the forest is mine, the wild animals on all the mountains. I know every bird by name.”

and then goes on… “What are you up to, quoting my laws, talking like we are good friends. You never answer the door when I call; you treat my words like garbage.”

and finishes with “It’s the praising life that honors me. As soon as you set your foot on the Way, I’ll show you my salvation.”

What does God want from us? Perfect church attendance? The first 10% of our income before paying debts and bills? Extra long prayers before bedtime or meals?

God wants our lives to honor God. Our hearts, our deeds, our words to be formed by the unconditional love of a savior who knows our names, our gifts, and our passions. It is in our intentions, not our rituals that our faith is shown, and grows. Do we share our whole selves with the community of faith, or do we participate in the ritual of church?

Take time to read through the Psalm. Then I would challenge you to go grab your bible and read it in another version. Rituals are incredibly important as they give patterns to our lives and draw our attention to God. How does your life preach the gospel? How do you continue to grow closer to God in prayer, in study, and in service?

Join us this week at the Homeless Ministry. Let your life speak. Pray for your co-workers and your family once daily. Share this Psalm with your partner, family, or a friend. Check out some of the sermons on the Chicago Temple website. Take a walk in your neighborhood and pray for God’s presence to be with your neighbors. Let your life speak.

God’s peace be with you and yours,

Deacon Erin

Psalm 50 The Message (MSG)

An Asaph Psalm

50 1-3 The God of gods—it’s God!—speaks out, shouts, “Earth!”
    welcomes the sun in the east,
    farewells the disappearing sun in the west.
From the dazzle of Zion,
    God blazes into view.
Our God makes his entrance,
    he’s not shy in his coming.
Starbursts of fireworks precede him.

4-5 He summons heaven and earth as a jury,
    he’s taking his people to court:
“Round up my saints who swore
    on the Bible their loyalty to me.”

The whole cosmos attests to the fairness of this court,
    that here God is judge.

7-15 “Are you listening, dear people? I’m getting ready to speak;
    Israel, I’m about ready to bring you to trial.
This is God, your God,
    speaking to you.
I don’t find fault with your acts of worship,
    the frequent burnt sacrifices you offer.
But why should I want your blue-ribbon bull,
    or more and more goats from your herds?
Every creature in the forest is mine,
    the wild animals on all the mountains.
I know every mountain bird by name;
    the scampering field mice are my friends.
If I get hungry, do you think I’d tell you?
    All creation and its bounty are mine.
Do you think I feast on venison?
    or drink draughts of goats’ blood?
Spread for me a banquet of praise,
    serve High God a feast of kept promises,
And call for help when you’re in trouble—
    I’ll help you, and you’ll honor me.”

16-21 Next, God calls up the wicked:

“What are you up to, quoting my laws,
    talking like we are good friends?
You never answer the door when I call;
    you treat my words like garbage.
If you find a thief, you make him your buddy;
    adulterers are your friends of choice.
Your mouth drools filth;
    lying is a serious art form with you.
You stab your own brother in the back,
    rip off your little sister.
I kept a quiet patience while you did these things;
    you thought I went along with your game.
I’m calling you on the carpet, now,
    laying your wickedness out in plain sight.

22-23 “Time’s up for playing fast and
    loose with me.
I’m ready to pass sentence,
    and there’s no help in sight!
It’s the praising life that honors me.
    As soon as you set your foot on the Way,
I’ll show you my salvation.”