For more commentary on this week's readings, see the Reflections on the Lectionary page, which
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I'm intrigued by the public radio program This I Believe.
How often are we asked direct questions about what we believe? And what would
you or I say when asked by Jesus, "Who do you say that I am?"
I am going into the fifth year of a continuing education
program in which the capstone assignment each year is to prepare a statement of
belief. We are asked to describe our personal beliefs and principles, how we
developed these beliefs, what has changed throughout our lives, and what
situations have required us to act on these principles.
Out of this experience, I began to see the power of being
able to claim what we believe and to think about how it intersects with the
various commitments of our lives. I have added a "belief paper" to a course I
teach for seniors preparing for their first ministry context. It's important
for them to clarify who they are, what they believe, what they stand for and
what they will or will not do. I make it clear that all of this thinking is
outside the bounds of candidacy tracks or ordination exams; it is for our eyes
only. My hope is that this might expand their flexibility and their
Peter Miller, a senior editor of National Geographic, writes in The
Smart Swarm about his study of bees, termites, birds and people. He brings
some thoughts together about what we hold in common with the natural world, and
what reflects our God-created ability to define our beliefs:
We add something of value to a
team or organization mainly by bringing something authentic and original to the
table...not by blindly copying others, taking advantage of others, or ignoring
our better instincts. At times this means paying our fair share, sacrificing
for the good of the group, or accepting the way that things are done. At other times
it means standing up for what we believe, lobbying for a cause, or refusing to
go along with the crowd. In either case, the best way to serve the group, it
turns out, is to be true to ourselves.