Applying our faith in practice
Creation, faith in practice, and preparation—that is a good way to summarise next month’s divine services in a nutshell. However, those who attend these services will discover that there is a great deal more behind the captions.
The five services in October are structured in accordance with an overarching theme—namely “Faith in practice”—which encompasses three of them in a row. Faith is an “inner certainty and trust in God,” as it says in the Divine Service Guide. Three ways to practise our faith will be featured. This theme is bookended by two other divine services. The first service in October focuses on God’s creation, while the last divine service serves to prepare the way for the service for the departed.
Being mindful of the creation
It is a hopeless situation. The city of Jerusalem is besieged by enemies. “Ah, Lord God!” says prophet Jeremiah as he begins his distressing prayer. But he still goes on to clearly express: “Behold, You have made the heavens and the earth by Your great power and outstretched arm.” He thereby professes God as the Creator of all life. He professes that God is omnipotent and that He has made all things well. Nothing can oppose God: “There is nothing too hard for You.” These events recorded in Jeremiah 32: 17 are applied to the present day in the first Sunday divine service of the month. The believers are thus to experience the concrete effects of this profession of faith.
Faith in practice: prayer
He is about to take a very significant step, namely the calling of the twelve Apostles. But just before He does so, Jesus retreats to a mountain and seeks a connection with His Father. He does not want to make this decision without Him. This incident, as recorded in a Bible verse from Luke 6:12, serves as the basis for the second Sunday divine service of the month. Believers are to learn from the example of Jesus. The divine service explains why we should distance ourselves from all the hustle and bustle of daily life, and explores the role that prayer can play in our own lives. Prayer is the “breathing of the soul”, because a living faith cannot function without prayer.
Faith in practice: conversation with our neighbour
It is Sunday morning after the divine service: most of the members are talking about today’s lunch, others about their plans for the weekend, while still others complain about the officiant. All too quickly their focus has shifted from the spiritual back to the earthly. Hopefully this is not the case after the third Sunday divine service in October, because it deals with an aspect of our faith in practice, namely talking about faith with our neighbour. In 1 Thessalonians 5: 11 we read about comfort and edification, but these are not the only positive effects that we can take out of a conversation about faith. Talking about faith is not merely reserved for the ministers.
Faith in practice: the Bible
Even today, the Bible remains one of the best-selling books in the world. Faith, doctrine, and sermon—all of these are based on the Bible. For this reason it is not only important for ministers, but also for all believers, to know their way around the Bible. “You search the Scriptures, for in them you think you have eternal life; and these are they which testify of Me.”—This Bible text from John 5: 39 forms the basis of the fourth Sunday divine service, which focuses on the role that the Bible plays for our practice of faith when it is read in the light of the Holy Spirit.
Preparing for the divine service for the departed
The ancient Athenians even had an altar that was dedicated to an unknown God—just to be absolutely sure they had not forgotten any! When Paul saw this, he explained to the Athenians that there is only one God—only one true God, who has created all things—and that He is close to all human beings. The fifth Sunday divine service in October serves to prepare the way for the divine service for the departed and explores this explanation of Paul as recorded in Acts 17: 26–27. The fact that God desires to be close to all human beings is clear, but why do some not experience this during their lifetimes? This remains a divine mystery, but the divine service makes clear what one should do when one hears the call of God and how one may already today have fellowship with God.
Photo: Jantanee Rungpranomkorn - istockphoto.com