Lent 2012: Day Eighteen

Hebrews 4:9 So then, a sabbath rest still remains for the people of God.

Another passage about the Sabbath! And so now is the time to share something I thought of on Sunday, and relayed to my parish church’s assistant priest Fr David. The conversation went something like this:

Me: You know the Sabbath?
Fr D: Yes?
Me: Well if we take it a bit more literally than we do, then the seventh day, Sunday, should be God’s day off, right?
Fr D: Yes. Looking at me wondering what I’m thinking.
Me: Well, it’s a bit inconvenient then that we all choose that day to talk to him isn’t it?
Fr D: Laughs and grins. I suppose it is. Let’s hope he doesn’t mind!

I reckon God doesn’t mind. But I reckon that God would love it if we trusted him a bit more to take care of us whenever possible (without disrupting the order of our free world of course), and said thankyou for things more instead of asking for this and this and this.

Yesterday I shared the four Greek words for love. Today, I’ll share the three Latin words for faith, brought to my attention by Marcus Borg…

Assensus is faith as assenting to the truth of a claim or a set of claims. It is ‘believing that’ a statement or set of statements is true – the meaning of faith that, according to Smith, has been most emphasized since the Enlightenment.

The second, fidelitas, means faithfulness, as in our word ‘fidelity.’ It means faithfulness to a relationship. Fidelity isn’t just about ‘not straying.’ Positively, it means commitment, loyalty, allegiance, steadfastness, presence, attention. In a Christian context, this is faith as faithfulness to God – not to statements about God, but to God.

The third meaning of faith, Niebuhr says, is fiducia. The best English equivalent is the verb ‘trust’ – faith as ‘trust.’ Think about what ‘trust’ means. In a Christian context, and more generally in a religious context, faith as fiducia means trusting in God – or if the word ‘God’ is a problem, a trusting relationship with ‘what is.’
The opposite of faith as trust, Niebuhr says, is anxiety. Think about that for a moment – the opposite of faith as trust is not doubt or scepticism or unbelief, but anxiety, worry, and fear in your life. Just think about that for a minute.

To return to Niebuhr’s point, anxiety, worry and fear all flow from lack of trust. But faith as trust progressively diminishes anxiety and at its deepest level casts it out. This is what Jesus meant when he said, ‘Why are you anxious, you of little faith?’ Anxiety and little faith, little trust, go together. A century and a half ago, Kierkegaard put this meaning of faith in this way: faith is like floating in seventy thousand fathoms of water. Think of the image. Faith is trusting that the water will buoy you up. If you do, you’ll float. But if you thrash around or become rigid with fear, you’ll sink.

– Putting Away Childish Things

Faith as fidcuia is central to the Sabbath. Faith as fiducia is central to our relationship with God, and with one another. Faith as fiducia should be central to our Christianity, not conservative certainties of assensus.

The Sabbath is not a day to abide by because of a law written down thousands of years ago. It isn’t there to appease God’s supposed wrath. And it isn’t a day for us to send a zillion requests up to the sky.

The Sabbath is a day of rest. A day of thanks. A day of taking ourselves away from our labours, peacably, and connecting more with the God above and within. The Sabbath is important. Rest is important. Relationship is important.

Have a good Sabbath tomorrow…

Hebrews 4:9 So then, a sabbath rest still remains for the people of God.

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