A Thanksgiving Faith Story
Adaptation of Psalm 23 by Harry London, Cantor Beth Tflioh Congregation
Since God is like a shepherd to us
We can have a sense that things will be alright
That we will have what we need even if not all we want
That God will get us to green pastures and in still water
For our food and our refreshment
And a portion of tranquility
We also have a sense that should we wander off
And find ourselves facing danger and death
We don’t have to fret or fear unduly
We can be comforted that God is close by
We thank God for all that is put before us
That sustains us, protects us, and makes us feel special
Our cup is overflowing
We thank God for teaching us how to be
Loving shepherds to those who depend on us
Our families. Our community. Ourselves.
In so doing, we invite God to dwell in our house
Just as we are invited to dwell in the House of God.
One Woman’s Witness
By Susan Garde
I don’t think of this as a “faith story” because I believe stories have a beginning, middle and end. I don’t recall my faith having had a beginning event; it just WAS. As I matured, I grew in awareness of a light that filled me, and I knew that light was the presence of God.
Being a child of God, I know that I receive the unconditional love of the Father. Faith is his gift to me. A gift of grace. I don’t have to check all the boxes to please him. Worship weekly, serve on a church committee+, fast… teach Sunday school…all good and worthy. For sure, I don’t have to check any of those boxes for my salvation. Salvation is mine, and I am living in the kingdom of God, and God is living in me. God has blessed me and filled me with gifts of the Spirit to use in service to others.
Faith is personal and not always easily expressed in human terms. Living my faith calls me to despair of injustice and inequality in the world, and to do the work of Jesus in this place, in the time I have here on earth. My professional life has blessed me with the opportunity to serve and care for those in need of healing. In recent years, my work has been with the transgender community as they transition to feel whole, something they may never have felt in their life. To advocate for those who need to feel unconditional love and lack of judgment from another human is humbling. I CAN BE Jesus in the world, serving his children.
Jesus tells me I am the light of the world. Not that I will be the light of the world, or I could be the light of the world. I AM THE LIGHT OF THE WORLD. God’s grace allows my light to shine in the darkness, for others to see the Lord.
I know Jesus dwells in me. I’m not waiting to be saved, and I’m not waiting to go to heaven. It has already come to me. I am living in the kingdom of God. Praising God and loving one another is the manifestation of heaven here on earth.
As I continue my earthly journey, I will strive to love and forgive, as my Lord has commanded me. He has loved and forgiven me, and I pray you, his children, will love and forgive in his name.
A Faith Journey to a Better Understanding
By Charlie Wehr
When I was growing up, my father always seemed to be in search of a better work situation which resulted in us living in 5 different houses in 4 different states by the time I started middle school. We always belonged to a church, but my parents didn’t seem very concerned about the denomination. We were Presbyterian in Michigan and Lutheran in Georgia – those are the only two I remember for sure. Not surprisingly, I failed to make a meaningful connection to Church and as soon as I was old enough to put up a good fight, I stopped going, except on Christmas and Easter of course.
In high school, like many teenagers, I was searching for meaning and tried to be open to new ideas, but never connected with any of them. I had friends who were active in their churches and Youth Groups – “Jesus Freaks” as they were called in the ’70s – but I never felt like I belonged there either. Those friends talked of “Faith” as if it were a switch that I could just turn on and “believe” if only I wanted to, which didn’t work for me.
I suppose that while busy with college, work, and relationships, I settled into a convenient belief that I was a good and kind spiritual person and I didn’t need church to tell me what to believe. It wasn’t until our first son, Jack, was born that my wife Sue and I started talking about finding a church so he could be baptized. Sue had experienced a strong connection to her church growing up and took the lead on shopping for a church. I chose not to voice any objections, even though I had gotten very used to my lazy Sunday mornings.
At first I felt that attending services at First Lutheran was something that I was doing for Sue, but that quickly changed as, bit by bit, I was “invited” to participate in so many opportunities. I can’t remember which came first, but teaching Sunday School, Vacation Bible School and the FLASH program were all early endeavors. Shortly thereafter I joined the choir and became involved in the music ministry in various other ways. Music was the key to my finding my place in weekly service. The most profound experiences I had serving through First, however, were the Youth Mission Trips that I was fortunate enough to chaperone. On these trips, I had the opportunity to work with others from our church and around the country to serve others in need. It was through these experiences that I developed a more mature understanding of my place with God and my community. I understand more clearly that my faith in God, which calls me to serve others, is not just something I do, it’s part of who God created me to be.