Opinions expressed here are my own and do not represent the views of the congregation I joyfully serve. But my congregation loves me!

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

The Essence of Faith


(This is Conversations with Bob! We finished our faith/life stories and are on yet another topic--the essentials or essence of faith. Bob, always the gentleman, is letting me go first.)

First, I need to finish my faith/life story. I left Girl and Boy hanging out there in Montana without completing their stories.

Girl graduated from the University of Montana this summer with a degree in psychology. She is putting it to good use tending bar in Salmon, Idaho. Her parents are so proud.


Boy had attended the same university for a year and a half and had a lot of fun--a chip off the old block. So much fun he had that he is now living with his parents in Tennessee and attending East Tennessee State University. The darndest thing about college is that the professors think you should go to class.


Really, the both are doing very well. They are happy, bright, good-looking, and compassionate. We are seriously, very proud of them.
Lovely Spouse teaches vocal music at a local high school. She is the best they have ever had. No brag, just fact.

Now on to the essentials of faith. I don't like lists very much. I prefer stories. I have a fear that upon my death I will approach St. Peter with my list of faith essentials. With a scowl and a huge red fountain pen, he will make sweeping marks and scratches. "Three correct, Shuck, out of one hundred. Down the chute to the fire with you!"


Even grocery lists put me in a state of panic. I rarely find anything on the list LS carefully prepares. I enjoy wandering aimlessly through the supermarket jungle. "Hmm. That looks good." I take a bunch of those and handful of these. I end up coming home with an odd assortment of items.

A couple of months ago, an attractive ham caught my eye. It was a country ham in a big bag, hanging there with bunches of others. It was the biggest, and I grabbed it. That sucker must have weighed thirty pounds! I proudly brought it home to Lovely Spouse. Like a hunter with a big catch, I said, "Look what I have for you, a big bag of ham!" She looked at me with that look I have seen so often. It is a look that says, "Did I really marry you?"

One more ham story. One Easter when we lived in Lowville, I purchased a ham. It was very good. Lovely Spouse approved. She thought it was so good that she asked me what kind it was. "Big Ass Ham," I replied. Since I am a pastor, she believed me. I forgot about that. She didn't. The next year she went shopping for the Easter ham. She took Boy with her who was about 12 at the time. She went into the P & C in Lowville and went up to the meat man. "Excuse me, last year my husband bought a ham here. It was really good. He said it was a Big Ass Ham. Do you have Big Ass Ham?" Boy was in shock. "Mom! Dad was
lying to you!"

All right. Lists. I suppose if I had to put something on my list regarding the essentials of faith, I would put near the top, gratitude.
It seems that the essence of faith is to be grateful. I am grateful for the cicadas as they crescendo and decrescendo. I am grateful for LS, Boy, Girl, Sister, and the rest of my family and friends, church, oh, you know, all of it. I am grateful for breath. Gratitude for life itself is certainly an essential of faith. If our faith leads to gratitude then I think we can handle pretty much anything. Gratitude is on my list of faith essentials, Bob. What say you?
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