Traveling Mercies

“It made no sense.” It was that line that stuck out at me as I read the book “Traveling Mercies: Some Thoughts on Faith”, a memoir by Anne Lamott chosen for our September book club. The book begins with a long “overture” describing her early life. This was a life filled with alcohol, drugs, sex, and wild living. In the words of one of our members “I’m amazed she’s still alive.” Lamott described her coming to faith not as “a leap but rather a series of staggers from what seemed like one safe place to another”. Whether it be the influence of Catholics, Christian Scientists, Jews or others Anne continuously found herself kept afloat by the faith of others even as she ardently avoided any sort of organized religion. Her parents, despite being children of missionaries, “despised Christianity”. And yet Lamott acknowledges that she wasn’t “remotely ready for Christianity” but never stopped believing in God from the day she read the story of Abraham and Isaac in Kierkegaard’s Fear and Trembling. It was as she explained how that experience during sophomore year of college triggered her belief in God that, in a single paragraph, Lamott used the phrase “it made no sense” four times. Reading that phrase over and over I knew that this was indeed a book meant to be read in our book club. Because when we are honest, faith is a wild and crazy thing that truly makes no sense, and yet WE BELIEVE. Reading her memoir it makes no sense that this former addict would be a writer of Christian spirituality books, it makes no sense that she is not dead from the lifestyle she lived. And yet, it would seem that God is speaking through her life experience. Many of the stories of scripture “make no sense” to common wisdom. It makes no sense that Jesus was able to feed thousands of people with only a few small loaves. It makes no sense that an innocent man was willing to put himself on a path that led to crucifixion. It makes no sense to think that the body of a man dead three days will rise from the dead. It makes no sense that a small band of followers of a powerless Jewish peasant would grow into a massive movement of hope and justice that spans the globe two thousand years later.

The subtitle of Anne Lamott’s book is “some thoughts on faith”. Faith, per the apostle Paul, “is the reality of what we hope for, the proof of what we don’t see.” Paul goes on throughout the 11th chapter of Hebrews describing all of our faith tradition, from Cain and Abel to the persecutions of the early church, as that which was done “by faith”. What do you do by faith? What crazy, insane act of love and hope are you finding yourself called to by faith? Faith is more than something to have, its not a membership card, or a warranty, it’s a call, a strength, an energy that compels us to act upon that which we have received, lived, and known. Each of us comes across an “Anne Lamott” in our own lives. What are we doing to live out our faith in relation to them? Who are we being called to see as a beloved child of God in need of our love, our care, our attention? As we go about life this month, I pray that we are able to keep our eyes, our hearts, and our minds open for opportunities to walk with others on their journeys of faith, that we may see God in them, and they may see God in their own life through our witness.

Grace and Peace,

Pastor Tara