The Rev. Larissa Forsythe is the Associate Minister of the Congregational Church in South Glastonbury, UCC.
Scripture: Hebrews 11:1-3; 8-16 (CEB)
By faith we understand that the universe has been created by a word from God so that the visible came into existence from the invisible.
By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to a place that he was going to receive as an inheritance. He went out without knowing where he was going.
By faith he lived in the land he had been promised as a stranger. He lived in tents along with Isaac and Jacob, who were coheirs of the same promise. He was looking forward to a city that has foundations, whose architect and builder is God.
By faith even Sarah received the ability to have a child, though she herself was barren and past the age for having children, because she believed that the one who promised was faithful. So descendants were born from one man (and he was as good as dead). They were as many as the number of the stars in the sky and as countless as the grains of sand on the seashore. All these people died in faith without receiving the promises, but they saw the promises from a distance and welcomed them. They confessed that they were strangers and immigrants on earth. People who say this kind of thing make it clear that they are looking for a homeland. If they had been thinking about the country that they had left, they would have had the opportunity to return to it. But at this point in time, they are longing for a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore, God isn’t ashamed to be called their God—he has prepared a city for them.
Reflection: By Faith
There’s an old Zen saying that I love: “Leap, and the net will appear.” Sometimes faith feels like flinging ourselves into the abyss, praying as we fall, “Please, God, please, God, please, God!” I have certainly had those moments and I imagine many of you have as well.
More often, though, I experience my journey in faith as a night walk in the woods with a headlamp. The first few feet of the trail are visible, but what’s beyond remains dark. I walk on in faith that the trail continues and that it leads to a place, an experience, a revelation that God is dreaming for me and for my community.
Abraham was uncertain about God’s hopes for him. He had plenty of questions for God and wasn’t afraid to ask them – but he kept on walking into the dark, pulled on by faith. He kept on walking into God’s dream for him and became a trailblazer for faithful people over millennia.
Late last year, a woman in my congregation shared that, for her New Year’s Resolution, she had committed to following the pull of her heart. Every time she felt that deep “Yes!” from her Spirit, every time she felt herself being pulled towards an opportunity, she put on her spiritual headlamp and plunged into the dark, knowing that something amazing awaited her: an experience of growth, a new understanding, a deep joy, something that God had dreamed for her. It had been an incredible year for her, even as it had led her way outside of her comfortable routines and ideas. In sharing her experience, she became a trailblazer for those who know her, inspiring us to listen to the call of our own hearts.
It doesn’t have to be New Year’s Eve for us to commit to following the Spirit when She calls. What is pulling at your heart today? What trail through the night cloaked woods is calling to you? Our text today promises that God dreams a homeland for all of us, a homeland in which all are free, all are whole, all are beloved. Jesus promises that this homeland, the Kin-dom of God, is available to us right here and right now – if we only follow that path away from our comfort and towards our transformation. Leap and the net will appear. Take that first dimly lit step onto the path and walk forward by faith. By faith, the Spirit will light the way.
By faith, we have been called to You, by faith we journey into the unknown. Embolden us to hear Your call, to follow Your Dream. Open us to the path that leads us home: to You, to one another, and to ourselves. Amen.
New Prayer Requests:
We ask churches and church leaders to join us in the following prayers either by sharing them during worship, printing them in bulletins, or sharing them in some other way. To make a prayer request, please contact Drew Page at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Prayers of Intercession:
- For those grieving or suffering after several shootings this past week including two deadly shootings in El Paso and Dayton
- For those who are detained in inhumane conditions
Prayers of Joy and Thanksgiving:
- For the staff, volunteers, and campers at Silver Lake Conference Center as they begin week seven
Please Remember These Connecticut Conference Churches
In Your Prayers:
The First Congregational Church of Washington, UCC
First Congregational Church of Waterbury, UCC
Mill Plain Union Church
South Congregational Church, UCC (Hopeville Church)
Waterford Congregational UCC
This Week in History:
Aug 8, 1974 (45 years ago) President Nixon becomes the first president to resign from office. His resignation came as public pressure mounted as impeachment proceedings began against his involvement in the Watergate affair. The pressure increased when recordings were release including a segment in which the president was heard instruction the FBI to halt the Watergate investigation.
“Study the past if you would define the future.”