Faith is not instant

As I sit writing my letter to you for the February/March Trinity Voice I am conscious that we are moving swiftly on into a new year and the cycle of a new church year with Candlemass on the 2nd February and then Ash Wednesday 26th February and the beginning of Lent.

I remember a time when antique furniture had to be old, really genuinely old. Now it is easy to buy brand-new furniture in a ‘distressed’ state. That is to say that it is made to look old: a bit of paint rubbed off on the corners, a few wormholes made with a very narrow drill-bit, the odd light scratch or two. Once if we bought a new piece of furniture and it looked like that we should either have sent it back to the shop or expected a heavy discount off the price. Today it can be seen as added value: an instant antique. Many people like the idea of the instant – instant meals, instant e mails, instant music and films on hand-held devices; so why not instant antiques?

Some people want their faith to be instant – low input, low cost, low maintenance. But faith is just not like that. Like love it takes time to mature. Like love it is tested by the knocks and blows that happen to us all. Like love it also deepens as the days go by, always providing that, like love, it receives the attention and support that it needs. Faith is not a sudden, blinding flash of awareness of the truth, although that sort of experience may well be the beginning of a person’s journey towards faith, or push it forward. Faith is more of a relationship with the person of Jesus Christ. It is the sort of relationship that grows until life would be quite unthinkable without that bond, that trust, that knowledge of the other. As with other, human, relationships our relationship with God takes time to build to become faith.

The Bible shows us how God’s people often had to wait: the Hebrews did not enter the Promised Land overnight nor did the waters of the Flood recede to allow the land to dry out instantly. Jesus called many to follow him but the rich young man was not ready to give up his riches; the blind man at Bethsaida had an encounter with Jesus, but he still had to wait for Jesus’s hands to be placed upon his eyes a second time before he could truly see.

As we approach Lent remember that the season is given to us to help us reflect on ourselves and lives as we journey towards Holy Week and what Christ endured for us on the cross. Nothing is truly instant, it all takes time to come to completion. Our faith in God and our relationship with Christ Jesus needs to deepen and that takes a lifetime. Even in a busy Lent it is worth our allowing time for faith to grow.

Blessings for a prayerful Lent Canon Andrew Gough – Parish Priest

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