December 24, 2012
Assistant Professor, Philosophy
2 Samuel 7:1-5, 8b-12, 14a, 16
Psalm 89:2-3, 4-5, 27 and 29
To have faith is to trust. For a religious person, it seems to me that this trust ought to be directed not to an abstract doctrine but placed in the living presence of God. In the Christian tradition, to have faith is to trust that God and Christ are with me, that God and Christ walk beside me. No matter what ordeals I have faced or will face, no matter what sadness and despair I feel, no matter how much weakness and inadequacy seem to define me, I seek to cultivate the conviction that my fate rests in the hands of God.
Today’s scriptural passages point to the centrality of such faith. King David and Zechariah, the father of John the Baptist, both feel the living presence of God and the need to cultivate further their awareness of God’s presence. But, what I find most poignant as well as challenging about these passages is that the trust toward which God calls David and that which is exhibited by Zechariah extends beyond the personal fate of these individuals. The trust that is at the center of these passages is a trust that God will be present in the lives of their children. God tells David that “I will be a father to [your heir], and he shall be a son to me.” Speaking of his son, Zechariah proclaims that “You, my child, shall be called the prophet of the Most High, for you will go before the Lord to prepare his way, to give his people knowledge of salvation by the forgiveness of their sins.” What strikes me is that it is one thing, and no easy thing at that, to trust that God is ever-present in one’s own life. It is another thing to believe that God will never abandon those whom I love and those whom my loved ones love and so on indefinitely. Yet, this is exactly the faith exhibited in today’s Psalm: “The favors of the LORD I will sing forever; through all generations my mouth shall proclaim your faithfulness.”
As a father of two, there is something profoundly inspiring about God’s pledge to remain present not only in my life but, even more, never to relinquish His intimate presence in the lives of those whom I most love. I pray that I can develop a relationship with God such that this inspiring thought is not merely a pleasant ideal or a hollow declaration. I pray that this inspiring thought is as real to me as is my love for my children, children that God promises to treat as God’s own.