Forest Lake Talks

A Message from Ellen 3-27-24

March 27, 2024

Dear Friends,

I hope this Easter Season finds you renewed and encouraged! The core of the Christian faith is the belief that the God who created all that is, knows us, loves us, and wills love and reconciliation for us. At the heart of our faith is not a list of things we must believe but is the felt and lived experience of the eternal love of God.

What we believe is important. But what we believe is not the core of our faith. At the core of our faith is our relationship with God through Christ. And because God is love, we have hope, no matter how hard life is at the moment.

Last week, some of the participants in our B365 groups (Reading the whole Bible in a year!) were privileged to sit with Rabbi Erik Uriarte from Tree of Life Synagogue. Those of us who have been reading through the Old Testament (the Jewish Bible) had lots of questions. Rabbi Uriarte did an excellent job! He talked about Judaism as a practice. He said that what matters most in Judaism is the faithful action – what we do. He shared a quote (and I can’t now remember who he credited, but the saying stuck with me): “Don’t tell me what you believe. Instead let me see your actions and I will tell you what you believe.” I like that. Rabbi Uriarte contrasted Judaism, as a religion of faithful action, with Christianity as a religion of faithful belief. And it suddenly hit me.

Christians have certainly made the Christian faith about belief. But you know what? The Christian Church was NOT founded on right belief. The Christian Church was founded on the experience of meeting the risen Jesus. Jesus calls Mary by name on that first Easter morning and shows up to reassure those who loved him. I worry that perhaps because we have lost that experiential knowledge of God, we have confused our faith with dogma or right belief.

Have we met the risen Jesus? Where do we experience love, joy, and hope? We can have hope in the middle of a despairing world, and comfort in the middle of grief because we experience God’s love here and now. The first followers of Jesus did not do what they did because they had become convinced in their minds that the tenants of the faith were more correct. The first followers of Jesus did what they did because they had come to know and to believe that, in Jesus, the God of the Universe was present and for “for” us. The Lord is Risen! The Lord is Risen indeed! Holy Easter Season.

Ellen F. Skidmore

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