Showing posts with label This I believe. Show all posts
Showing posts with label This I believe. Show all posts

passing on the faith

We are right in the middle of 'Believing God' and I am, once again, learning so much. But for me the coolest thing about the study this time around is getting to do this Bible Study with my mom and my grandma. Not to mention the women from all different parts of my life who have also joined in this online study. It is a sweet community, and I am grateful.

When I was in Mesa, I found this list taped to my grandma's bathroom mirror. It's the five statements that the study is based upon, and part of the study is to memorize them. I saw them taped on her mirror, in her handwriting, and in that moment realized what a true treasure this opportunity truly is... to get to study and learn God's Word with my grandma. My heart overflows with thanksgiving for this sweet 10 weeks of growing in faith with her, and for her strong example to never stop learning God's commands and to always follow Jesus.

This I believe-Confirmation Friend #3

From the This I Believe series...

Before we were confirmed, my confirmation class had to each write a paper called 'This I believe" proclaiming what our faith was grounded in, and what exactly we believed.

When I was home recently I saw at our church the picture of my confirmation class. I scanned the rows of 85 confirmands and started to wonder what they're up to and how they are living out their faith. We know we are living in an increasingly pluralistic time, and I know I have a hard time finding 20 somethings at church on Sunday mornings.

So I started facebooking confirmation friends. And I have been asking them, with your most honest response, what would you write today. (I've also promised that the posts will be anonymous, unless they're ok with their first name being used.)

The truth is, I am a bit nervous for some of the replies, because I love my church and I really think we experienced solid teaching and great foundations for the faith. But my fear is in wondering what I'll find when I know my friends are likely to fit into statistics that are painful to acknowledge.

So here begins an occasional series of This-I-Believe-12-years-later papers, written by friends, honest and helpful.


***

I am overwhelmed at the willingness of these friends from confirmation (many of whom I haven't really connected with in a decade) to write such thoughtful responses. Here is another from a friend with whom I share MANY great memories.

I believe in one God, who is present always in everything and everyone. God is Love; God is good; God Is and always will be.

I’ve always believed in God, but what cemented it for me as a thinking, reasoning kid (hormonal teen is maybe more accurate…:) was my experience in nature. Nature was a powerful connection for me. I remember watching a sunrise and thinking there just Has to be a God because this kind of beauty was Not an accident. I began noticing the beautiful colors of nature, and the sweet sound of the birds and spring peeper frogs. That moment was the start of a conscious awareness and knowing that our existence was not an accident. To this day when I see something beautiful I say a “Thank you God” to myself as a small prayer.

Growing up in our church was a wonderful, life shaping experience. I think it takes a village to raise loving, self-reliant, happy and spiritual kids, and I am so very thankful for the hours we all spent together at confirmation class, bible camp, church musicals, and lock-ins (boy I haven't that of those in years!) I wish that experience for every kid and especially every teen (the teen years are not easy!... then again the 20s have been a huge time of growth for me too! I can't wait for a breather… Bring on the 30s! :)

In the time since writing my “This I Believe” paper (which if I remember right had more questions than statements!) my beliefs have extended beyond the doctrine taught as a Lutheran. In college I studied many different religions and in the years following I looked into many religious centers and practices. After all the searching I discovered that the belief resonating truest for me is that all religions are spokes on the same wheel leading to the same God. It is my belief that Buddhism, Hinduism, Islam, Christianity, native religions, and indeed every religion that teaches of a power greater than ourselves refers to the same God. This belief led me to my current spiritual home of Unity Christianity, which is based on the teachings of traditional Christianity which feels like home for me but it’s also inclusive of all religions.

In sum, the foundation instilled in me at a young age about the goodness of God is still with me today, and while the doctrine I currently follow is slightly different I am so thankful for all the time spent in our church as a young-er kid.

This I believe- Confirmation Friend #2

From the This I Believe series...

I had a few more friends from confirmation reply to my asking what they believe as of late. The best part of this process has been in reconnecting with friends that I was close to a decade ago. Life is fun and so rich when relationships come back in to your circle. Here's another thoughtful, honest reply.

Interesting that you ask this question, it seems to be a popular topic of late. Since our confirmation, my faith has taken many directions and frankly, I am left a little confused. This confusion, however, I am not worried about.

In late high school, I dated a girl who's family was into the whole evangelical movement and I participated in praise/worship with her during that time. For a while, I felt closer to God and stronger in my faith than I ever had. Eventually I felt very turned off by this flavor of Christianity because I felt like everyone there believed a little too fervently, like faith was this homogeneous thing where you were either in or you weren't. "We as Christians believe..." "But I don't believe all of that and I'm still a Christian, aren't I?.."

Well a lot has changed in my life since then, and my faith has had its ups and downs. I have learned more about eastern religions and read some interesting viewpoints on Christianity by Carlton Pearson. So where do I stand now? I'm not totally sure. I know that I think about my faith as much now as I ever have. But I am as unsure about organized religion as I ever have been.

Ultimately, I have come to believe in these things. It has been more fulfilling to engage in my faith's journey than it ever has been to be "sure" of anything. I believe that keeping an open mind to opposing viewpoints and having discussions with friends/family has been more fruitful for me than taking communion or singing a hymn. The process of faith has trumped faithfulness and I take comfort in that. Maybe one day I'll feel "close" to God and maybe not, but I know that I will have invested myself in the process and that's all I really can do.

"All I do is love you, God
All I do is doubt you, God
All I do is search for you
What else can I do?...

And when I say I search for you
I mean I search for peace
I search for hope,
I search for love
And one day for release...

-Mason Jennings

This I Believe: Church friend #1

(This isn't my confirmation picture...just found this one on Flickr, but I thought it was pretty classic...)
I have had a few brave, kind friends reply to my very personal question that I threw out to many of my confirmation friends:

"So, this is sort of loaded, but I'd sincerely be curious. If you were given a few paragraphs to write your belief statement about what you believe in terms of God and the church and your faith, what would you say? Where are you at? I know that's loaded. But I'd love to know."

This response I am posting below is so candid and thoughtful. And I think the picture painted here is what I was sort of wondering about many of my 20-something friends. Take a moment to read it...the writing is eloquent and honest.

Hey Becca,

So, yes that question was FULLY loaded! I guess I really don't know what to say about my faith. It's complicated? It's been 10 years really since I was involved in anything church-related.

I look back on my time involved with youth group as some really happy times in my life! It was really important to my development to have that community and I think that is one of the best aspects there is to organized religion.

Unfortunately, I wish some of the bad things associated with organized religion were not there. I know it's not every church or every disciple, but I do feel that church/religious choice is the cause of a lot of the lack of understanding between people. I guess it's definitely in a more broad, general sense, because in a more person-to-person sense, I think religious people are very caring and generous. I guess it's the whole saying that one rotten apple spoils the whole bunch.

I wonder at times if life would be easier if I had more faith. I try to remember back to the times I was in the church and think if I really worried more or less about things. It's hard to say. But I do know I questioned a lot of things, even while at church. And one thing that I can remember is that I never understood the God-fearing thing. Like, if God is so great and stuff, why should I be afraid?! I don't know if that makes sense.

This is definitely a conversation that would be easier to have in person I think. But I'll push on:)

I question a lot of things. I always have- even when I was involved in the church. I like learning about other religions and seeing where there may be some similarities and see what are some differences. I think the political power of the church, historically maybe more than today, is disturbing sometimes. I vehemently believe that in the US the separation of church and state is an integral part of our institution.

But then I also think the church does so many good things in the community and are we losing that sense of community as fewer and fewer people go to church. Even people that do go to church now go to these HUGE mega-churches and I think it can be hard to foster as much of a sense of community- it seems that some people will fall through the cracks?

So for me, no I don't go to church. I haven't even been for holidays in a while. I probably would go on holidays if I were with my family on holidays but that doesn't usually happen, whether due to work or being on the outs with each other.

I have been doing yoga for 9 years now and the spiritual element of that is something that really appeals to me. I should do it more because it makes me feel so at peace with myself and the world around me.
***
***
So what do you think? Are you surprised? Do you know someone like my friend? Or do you agree with what is written? If you'd like to leave a more personal response anonymously with me, feel free to email your thoughts: beccagroves@gmail.com

This I Believe.

Before we were confirmed, my confirmation class had to each write a paper called 'This I believe" proclaiming what our faith was grounded in, and what exactly we believed.

When I was home recently I saw at our church the picture of my confirmation class. I scanned the rows of 85 confirmands and started to wonder what they're up to and how they are living out their faith. We know we are living in an increasingly pluralistic time, and I know I have a hard time finding 20 somethings at church on Sunday mornings.

So I started facebooking confirmation friends. And I have been asking them, with your most honest response, what would you write today. (I've also promised that the posts will be anonymous, unless they're ok with their first name being used.)

The truth is, I am a bit nervous for some of the replies, because I love my church and I really think we experienced solid teaching and great foundations for the faith. But my fear is in wondering what I'll find when I know my friends are likely to fit into statistics that are painful to acknowledge.

So here begins an occasional series of This-I-Believe-12-years-later papers, written by friends, honest and helpful.

Hello, church. What are you up to?

P6010074

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the church. Wondering where we are spending our time and energy and wondering even more about where we are not spending our time and energy.

I have interviewed almost 70 college-age students over the past month, all applying to work on our summer camp staff. And I feel like I have gained so much insight from these pretty candid conversations with men and women from many different denominations who are committed to follow Jesus.

So I’m going to take some time on this blog to flesh out some of these things I’m thinking about. Because at the same time I’ve been doing these interviews, I’ve been sharing a facebook conversation with a long-time family friend who started our conversation by asking me three questions:

- What about organized religion or orthodoxy intimidates some people? Small house churches are becoming popular, mainly lead by lay people, which can have real positives as well as sketchy theology...what scares people away from organized religion?
-How do we draw people into the doors of the church?
-How do we make the worship appealing and relevant to all ages?

I’m ready to dive into this conversation. And I’d love for you to join me!

The whole mustard seed thing.

Rory and I have been going to a church that we really, really love and during a prayer last Sunday the pastor mentioned the whole "faith as small as a mustard seed" thing. And for some reason, this time it hit me. I think preschool VBS was the first time I was shown a mustard seed and since then the words have washed over me like a good analogy, not quite sinking in.

This time it did though. Maybe it's because we just took a great leap of faith, following what I know is God's call to this land called Nebraska. And like any leap of faith, some days I am fully confident and content and other days I am lonesome and hoping.

So I took out the half pencil and offering envelope stuck in the chair in front of me, wrote the following and stuffed it in my purse:

faith the size of a mustard seed.

do you ever feel that way? Like your faith is actually that small. because sometimes, in some seasons it just is.

And yet, God will still move mountains for you. He is still mighty to save- even with that tiny mustard seed of faith that we believe in.

I read the envelope each day this week, knowing that I wrote the words to myself. And as I read them again each day, I began to remember the grace of God: God moves the mountains, we just cling to him.