Pastor Ginger and I will be leading a Summer Sunday school class focusing on spirituality. Being people who believe in the Holy Spirit, Christians live with the understanding that the spirit of God lives in and guides us. In Paul’s letter to the Galatians, we hear these words: the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control… If we live by the Spirit, let us also be guided by the Spirit. (5:22-25). This past year, our church has embraced many through various stages of life. Beginning with the covenant makes with us in Baptism, we live by faith. God’s gift of faith through the Holy Spirit comes to us so that we may see and participate in life from a new perspective. We are new creations in Christ. And in this new context we live experiencing and sharing God’s presence. Perhaps our diary could look like the following:
“Dear Diary” (Possible excerpts from a faith perspective):
Dear Diary: We came home from the hospital today with our new baby! Words cannot describe the awe, the fear, the joy, the feeling of ‘what to do next?’, the responsibility … with this new life in our midst, we see good in the world, we see your creative hand, we see hope for the future, we are profoundly moved with respect for this gift of life.
Dear Diary: We just returned from church and our baby’s Baptism! Thank you for your Holy Spirit and its gifts of wisdom and understanding, of counsel and might, of knowledge and the respect/fear of the Lord, of joy in your presence. We believe your Spirit will bless and guide and guard our special one … and us in this gift of parenthood. Help us care for our child. The world is so big and confusing, and she is so small and vulnerable. We hold fast to your promise that you are “there to hear our borning cry” and that you are with us throughout life’s journey. Your love for us is like a parent’s love for a child.
Dear Diary: We just returned from our “baby’s” Rite of Confirmation. No, she’s not a “baby” anymore, and she’s growing up so fast. Today she became a member of the church of her own volition – your Holy Spirit is at work in her! We were proud to hear her stand up in front of her family of faith to affirm her baptism, to say that after two years of catechetical instruction and a week of study while at summer camp that she wants to stand on her own two feet as a fellow-member of the faith in Jesus Christ. As she enters these teenage years ahead of her, let her feel your grace in even more profound ways!
Dear Diary: It is my wedding day, and I am so excited! I just have to share my joy with you. Mom and Dad have been so supportive through the years and are crying tears of joy for this happy day … so am I. I hope they know that I couldn’t be here without them – I mean that more than just “physically” here, I mean that they have been a Mom and a Dad to me. The have nurtured me in so many ways over so many years. I need to tell them this before I go down the aisle. The church looks beautiful with all the decorations. I sat in it last night when it was empty and I thought about growing up in my church, my congregation. So many memories. I remember how often I use to come in here by myself to pray or to think about things I was going through. I even prayed that God would “find” the right person for me to marry. God has always assured me and given comfort and answered my prayers … Today is just another answer to prayer! The church has always been there for me. It has helped me to grow up…and not just “up” but in, deep within. My Sunday School Teachers, my experiences during youth group, those servant camp trips when we helped and served people with needs I never thought existed — all these and more have given me, as I look back on them, not only direction for living but confidence and meaning for life itself. Even now as I worship, I find that I go not just to give thanks but for direction. I find that I need God even more now that I am an adult. Please, God, bless this marriage … and thanks for the whole “family” that will gather today to share in the celebration.
Dear Diary: I just came back from the church and from Dad’s funeral. It is the saddest day of my life. What will I do without Dad around to talk with, to share with, to teach my children, to hug. I feel like a part of my foundation has been ripped away. I remember how Dad used to tell me stories. Today I thought about how he explained to me the day I was baptized. How the pastor held me up in the air at the altar as if to say “we know that we come from God and we will go to God … thank you, God, for this gift of life.” Today I heard again how through our baptism God joins us to himself, and that through the death and resurrection of Jesus, we too, shall not die but live on forever in God’s Kingdom. Nothing separates us from this love of God through Christ, not even death. My Dad is gone and I miss him terribly. Once again, God, strengthen me through faith … and take good care of Dad.
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God is with us … always. Our faith is not only a set of beliefs but a way in which we see and live life. If you are not using your faith every day, then what are you using? It is a gift of God to help you experience life more fully. Start today. Re-fresh your life by listening through faith from God. Spend time with God, as with a diary, in conversation. Remember, each day, that you are baptized!
In the Faith+