Faith: Reflecting on ourselves
I am not a person who spends a great deal of time in reflection over how I have been doing and/or serving as a priest/pastor at St. Mark’s Church of Grace here in Craig. When major events occur in my life I do spend time in reflection and have come to some serious conclusions about my life and especially my faith as a result of that reflection. I also choose times for regular reflections, such as the end of the church calendar year, which is coming up this Sunday. I don’t write everything down, and I am not a huge fan of journaling, but I thought that I would write down some of the things that I contemplate during my reflection over the past year.
Here is a list of what concerns me in my life of faith, my life in our marriage and family relationships, my life in our congregation and my life in community:
- Am I in a relationship with the Lord God Almighty that is good and proper and righteous, and do I live in relationship with my neighbor that demonstrates that I love my neighbor as myself? (NRSV, Matthew 22: 34-40).
- Have I been guilty of judging others? (NRSV, Romans 2: 1).
- Have I obeyed the requirements in the Decalogue (Ten Commandments), even to the point of understanding anger to equate with murder and looking at another with lust equates to committing adultery? (NRSV, Matthew 5: 21-30).
- Have I loved my neighbor just as much as Jesus loved us, in other words, am I willing to lay down my life for my neighbor just as Jesus laid down His life for me? (NRSV, John 13: 34-36).
- Have I, and do I continue to, teach my children and loved ones the commandments that the Lord God Almighty asks me to teach, when I sit in my house and when I walk by the way and when I lie down and when I rise up? (NRSV, The Sh’ma*, Deuteronomy 6: 4-9).
- Have I done all within my power to insure that my children, grandchildren and loved ones grow in their faith by my teaching them and demonstrating to them the love that the Lord God Almighty has for them and how their living properly will insure that their days may be multiplied? (NRSV, The Sh’ma, Deuteronomy 11: 18-21).
- Have I opened my heart for the inspiration that comes through the Holy Spirit and my accepting a new heart with which the Lord God Almighty will instill in me where His commandments are written on my heart in a new covenant? (NRSV, Jeremiah 31: 31-34).
- Have I prepared my heart of stone to be replaced by a new heart of flesh and prepared my spirit to follow His statutes and ordinances and know that I shall be one of His people and He will be my God? (NRSV, Ezekiel 36: 26-28).
- Have I fed the hungry, gave something to drink to the thirsty, welcomed a stranger, given clothing to the naked, taken care of the sick and visited those in prison, not looking for any compensation but only that when I do that for the least of people, I do it for the Lord? (NRSV, Matthew 25: 31-46).
- Perhaps most importantly, have I lived in such a way that people who observe me might state that they have observed a Christian at work among them, not only by words but by deeds as well. Have I proclaimed the Gospel to all who will listen, all who will hear?
This is just a small number of reflection points that I live by when I do reflect upon how I believe myself to be doing, paying particular attention to the fact that a person who proclaims the Gospel and teaches others will be held to a much higher degree of accountability than others. I am my harshest critic, but I pray that I may live into the calling that I have received from God and that persons with whom I am in contact may develop and live into a closer relationship with Him.
*The Sh’ma ~ In Jewish tradition these verses begin the important prayer known as the Sh’ma (translated “hear”) which is to be prayed daily upon one’s rising and upon one’s lying down to sleep.
The Rev. Bain White is the priest/pastor at St. Mark’s Church of Grace, Craig, Colorado. He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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