Monday to Saturday faith
Contributions from members of the congregation of St James
Some speakers contributed a script, others were recorded.
The village GP
Faith in everyday life affects us all - often in similar ways with common challenges, but also in diverse situations. As a village GP, I thought I would consider how faith affects me in my work. As a scientist, accepting all the words of the Bible with literal belief can run contrary to our non-religious education. Darwinism could be considered to be incompatible with The Book of Genesis. I cope with this by largely ignoring it - I am content in my acceptance that there are influences out there too great for me to understand.
It can be hard to believe that God watches over us all, the whole time, when I am told in confidence of dreadful occurrences, abuse, strife, and what seem to be the works of the Devil. When a patient develops three different cancers it is just not fair - how can God allow this? When I hear of someone abused as a child by their family, only to later suffer bereavement with the suicide of the perpetrators before justice could be delivered, it is hard to keep firm hold of ones faith.
Fortunately, there is a flip side to these faith-threatening experiences, which can bring joy and reinforced belief - to see the hand of God at work with a miraculous, unexpected, and unexplained cure that defies all medical knowledge, or to admire the unfailing constancy of devoted care given by a family looking after their demented loved one, more than overcomes any moments of doubt.
As highlighted in the poem 'Footprints in the Sand' by Mary Stevenson, we must accept that we are too small and limited to see the full picture - we must trustingly hold our belief close to our hearts.
A retired teacher
As a long-retired person, I may be talking about faith in inaction, rather than faith in action. But all I can say is that God does keep me busy. I guess that my retired weekday life has three facets:
- Going about menial tasks of daily living - which somehow seem to get more tiring. "Who sweeps a room, as for thy laws, makes that and the action fine." I'm not totally convinced about that - but at least I can think while doing them - and often my thoughts are on matters of faith.
- The second area is that of relaxing and pleasurable bits, which every human should have. For me:
- Rambling – in every sense of the word.
- Reading – both fiction as well as all other kinds.
- Striving, perhaps for insight into other characters, into history, into world problems – and sometimes a new glimpse of God, who encompasses all those things.
- Writing – for fun and sometimes for use in worship.
- Listening – it’s amazing how many radio programmes either challenge or confirm our Christian faith.
- And especially music. Our frequent treats of Choral Evensong in one of the cathedrals can be uplifting to a wondrous degree. And the privilege of singing with our own choir on special occasions is faith-affirming in a different way. “Let all the world …”
- The third facet of daily life is still interaction with other people. My own family, of course, and I constantly give thanks that I’m blessed with a loving husband, children and grandchildren – I pray that the youngsters will make a better job of solving the world’s problems than my generation seem to have done. I give thanks for many valued friends – sometime one has to pray for the right words to say to them, or for forgiveness for saying the wrong ones. But always asking strength to rise to demands of reacting rightly to the needs of those at hand and those far off and unknown. In the words of Christ himself, they are all my neighbour.
Christian Aid has been a strong thread through my life for 52 years, so envelope collecting tomorrow – here we go again. Yesterday as I prepared this, I realised that it was May 14th, the 63rd anniversary of my confirmation by the Bishop of Warrington. He exhorted us to “Be thou faithful, even unto death.” Well, I’ve tried. Haven’t quite got there yet – but there’s still a bit of time left, I hope.