“Faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead” (James 2:17; NIV)
I came upon the above Bible quote on Twitter, and it got me thinking about the church and an activity that I have been involved in with over the last few months.
I am in a congregation that is really dead, and the diocese needs to force to convert into a mission. Week after week Faith is talked about, but when it comes to action it really fails, which is sad. I find a number of times the clergy person doesn’t practice what is preached. Tells on one thing, than does the complete opposite. The Clergy person does not support those who wish to do something, unless it is something that benefits him, but let me get to talking about Faith and Action.
I think that Faith is something that is easy for anyone to have, and in reality we all have Faith. Think about it, I am sure that you can’t think of a single person in the world who has Faith in one way or another. Really, think about it. We get into a car or plane to go somewhere, and we have Faith that we will arrive to our destination safely. We put food into our mouth to eat, and we have faith that it will not kill us. We have Faith in so many many things, so to say that we don’t have Faith is something that we really can’t say.
But Faith without action in many things is truly dead. In this diocese we have a thing that we call Area Ministry. Now trying to really describe what Area Ministry is is difficult, as if you were to ask 10 people what it is, they will all tell you different things for the most part. But yet it works in a way that everyone does it and doesn’t really realize it. It’s not just a Christian thing to do, it’s a human thing to do.
Several years ago when Area Ministry was first brought out to the people, someone from another congregation here contacted me and invited me to a series of events that her parish was doing, and they wanted it to be the beginning of the two congregations doing Area Ministry together. Now in the congregation I am in, the words Area Ministry had not been mentioned at all, but I was aware of it in the diocese. During the announcements the following Sunday, I stood before the people and spoke about what had been asked of me and extended the invitation. Well, the only person to go was myself. An idea was brought up in that all of the vestries of the congregations in Oakland should get together. About 7 months later, after I had mentioned what had been brought up the pastor of my congregation used the words “Area Ministry” to the congregation. Finally, after all of this time he bothered to mention it. It was desided to get the vestries together. All fo the vestries did, and Area Ministry was the topic, and it was decided that it was something that we were going to do. Sadly after 4 or 5 meetings, things fell apart. The Faith was there to do it, but there was no Action.
About two months ago I got an e-mail from a friend of mine at another congregation asking me if I would be interested in joining with some other people from different congregations in getting involved in doing some work within the community. After watching what had happened with the Area Ministry, I had my doubts about it working, but something in my told me to have Faith as Actions would occur.
About 8 of us gathered and spent some time talking. We spoke about the different ministires that each of our congregations were doing, and the indivisual ministries that we were doing. The something happened, and we came up with Actions. Not only had we decided upon things that we were going to do and get involved with, but a commitment to action had occurred.
Not only had the commitment to actions occurred, but things have actually taken place, with the one that most people in the congregations knowing about lunches being made and passed out to the Day Workers in an area here in Oakland. It’s not only lunches, but the rector of St. Paul’s has written notes that were included, but things like sock and hand santizers were also.
It’s amazing the things that occur when we put our faith into action. I remember listening to someone who is now a Deacon in the church talk about a jail ministry he was involved in. He talked about it’s beginnings and the stuggle, then he told a story which was just amazing. Him and others would go to the city jail several times a month with tape recorders, children’s books and envelopes. They would sit with women who are parents of small children and the parent would read the story into the story. The book and the tape would be put into an envelope and tehn sent to the child. There was a woman who would never come into the room, but would watch. After watching a few times, she came in and did one. Nobody had bothered to come and visit her, as it was a cultural thing in her culture not to visit even ones family who was in jail, but she finally went about the action of doing one. Her child got the package, and the family sat together and listened to it. it became a thing to do whenever one would arrive, where the family would have dinner together and then sit and listen to the tape. Because of the actions that had occurred, the family came and visited her.
I was watching a video on YouTube called “Shopping While Black”. One of the things that I have expereinced is being followed in stores and even told what I do and do not like. This has happened in all size stores. One of the things that was interesting was it was done by a news program. The managed to find a store that was willing to permit an experiment to occur. A Black woman went into the store and a store clerk (an actress) treated her real bad because of her color. The experiment was to see what would happen when it came to the other shoppers. It was amazing how the other shoppers failed to step into action to defend this woman who hadn’t done anything wrong. we all talk about the things that we would do in a situation, but it is interesting in that we don’t step into action in reality.
I also think about a woman that I am a fan of named Lorielle New. Lorielle does a live webcam show Monday through Fridays. It appears that many of the people who come to her show are guys who lust after her. Me, Yes she is a beautiful lady, but that isn’t why I come to her show. Lorielle is a woman who has dreamed of having success in Hollywood. Now I am not sure at what level success she desires (A-List, Tome Cruise level,) or being someone who does a starring role from time to time, but wants to be known as a great character actor. Lorielle did some acting in another state, then took a Leap of Faith and moved to Hollywood, Ca. Of what I know of the industry, many people go there seeking fame and fortune, but never really do the actions that it takes. Lorielle is one of those who not only has taken that Leep of Faith, but she has gone into Action in that she really hasn’t relied on just agents to get her auditions, but has done the work to get them. Her success hasn’t been that great in the level she has reached, but she goes out and seeks work. I haven’t asked her (if I ever remember, one of these days I will,) but I don’t think that he has had to do a “civilian” job since she has gotten there. I hear of others who are waiters, secretaries, and so forth, but Lorielle has managed to get enough work to be able to pay her bills, etc. She has starred in a film, done tv, done movies, done music videos, and other things, but most importantly she has not only had the Faith it takes to survive, has is doing the Actions that it take to survive.
If you look at the life of Jesus and the things that he did, you will realize that he was a person of action. He could of easily just sat around and let people die or remain unhealed of things, but he didn’t. I really wonder what Jesus is thinking now about the people who claim to have Faith in him? Is Jesus upset that we fail to act in many ways towards the injustices that are done in this world? Think about your won actions. What calls to actions have you and do you ignor? Could your congregation be getting grants towards improvements and programs because you fail to move into action at getting them? In what other areas of your life could your actions useful?
To the person who asked me if my Pastor has ever apologized to me when he failed to give me the credit due me for work that I did? I’m still waiting for him to apologize. he has given me a number of excuses, but saying the words “I’m Sorry, what I did was wrong” has never coem out of his mouth. I fins it sad, as he appears to be able to apologize for anything that he has done wrong. As things go on and I look back, when it comes to me he has major problems. I sometimes wonder how he will answer to God when asked why he has been so inable to do the right and proper thing. He’s going to have to answer to his actions. talking around the issue or trying to avoid it isn’t going to work with God. At times I think about an episode of the show Red Dwarf where the characters had to justify their existence. The thing with it is that the person judging them was themselves. As I sit and watch only 2 or maybe 3 people sit in the pews on Sundays, I just shack my head knowing that what could be a great congregation doesn’t exist because he has driven people who have tried to lead away from it. Do I think that he will ever apologize? Maybe one day he will, but I expect that he will also include a bunch of excuses with it. It’s like I asked him a couple of months ago if we would be also buying copies of “Lift Every Voice and Sing II” at the same time that we get some new Spanish hymnal so that the Blacks in the congregation don’t feel as though we are being put into the back of the bus again. He responded with we would have to raise money for it. Now I know that the raising of money for it will not happen, and he will get the vestry to buy only the Spanish hymnal, and if LEVIS II is brought up that he will have some excuse as why we shouldn’t buy an equal number of it (or any at all,) at the same time. He still hasn’t taken the time off that the Vestry said that he had to take over a year ago. It’s sad to watch. But him saying an apology is something that I am sure will never happen, so I have put it into the hands of God, and will let God deal with him.
Forever in Christ