Tuesday of Lent 4, April 2, 2019
“Bless the Lord who forgives all our sins. His mercy endures for ever.”
Today, we continue our examination of our prayer and worship life and how our relationships with God and each other are affected by our common life:
Our negligence in prayer and worship,
and our failure to commend the faith that is in us,
We confess to you, Lord.
What is this “faith that is in us”? Faith can have two meanings in this context: faith as trust in God and faith as apostolic tradition passed along to us through scripture and church tradition. And both of these meanings of faith come to us in two ways: faith is a gift from God directly and through the church, and faith is something that we cultivate and grow. The gift is to individuals as well as through community and growing is also done by each of us personally and in community.
Faith as the content of the apostolic tradition as it has been formed through the ages is given to us through our baptismal covenant (the affirmations as well as the Apostles’ Creed, see BCP 302-310). This faith is built upon trust in God who is one God in three persons—one of whom became incarnate and lived, died, rose, and ascended, and one of whom was sent to empower us to live into this faith. This trust in and of God is both personal and communal, present and built upon the past.
Faith as trust is a personal matter—we come to have faith in someone through personal encounters and through reflections upon past deeds. We come to trust each other in our families, worshiping communities, and the diocese through our common life together. In much the same way, we come to know God as trustworthy through reflecting upon how others describe God’s actions in the past and how we experience God moving through us and in us today.
But what is this “commending the faith that is in us”? To commend something means to entrust it to another, or to recommend it, or to praise it. We commend the faith that is in us when we entrust ourselves to one another, which is part of our baptismal covenant. We also commend the faith that is in us when we invite others to trust us. When we live in such a way that others can see that we are trusting in God and living according to God’s ways rather than the ways of the world (see 1 Peter 3:15), we are recommending our faith as a joyful way of living. Another way that we commend the faith in us is to be able to explain how God is working through our baptism to make the world a better place. Each of the promises we make when we renew our baptism (BCP 304-5) describes a way to commend the faith in us. Commending the faith in us requires us to reflect upon how the faith is being formed within us, how we are trusting God, and entrusting our lives to God. We most often do this reflection together in worship.
When we are negligent in our prayers and worship, we don’t receive the gift of sharing in the faith of those who have gone before us and those who are walking alongside us today
What does “commending the faith that is in us” look like in your life, in the life of your worshiping community, and in the life of our diocese?
When have you (as an individual or as a worshiping community) neglected to commend this faith?
When have we as a diocese missed opportunities to commend the faith in us?
As you pray the following prayer, replace “these your servants” and “them” with “us” and replace “their” with “our”:
Almighty God, we thank you that by the death and resurrection of your Son Jesus Christ you have overcome sin and brought us to yourself, and that by the sealing of your Holy Spirit you have bound us to your service. Renew in these your servants the covenant you made with them at their Baptism.
Send them forth in the power of the Spirit to perform the service you set before them; through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.