Sunday Service Discussion Notes for October 28 and November 4, 2012
For two weeks we discussed the subject of Faith, as we referred to chapter 7 of Perceptions, a book written by UMS founder Damien Simpson.
We reviewed some definitions of the word Faith:
- A strong or unshakable belief in something, especially without proof or evidence
- Trust in God, and in His actions and promises
- A conviction of the truth of certain doctrines of religion, especially when they are not based on reason
- Confidence or trust in a person
- Any set of firmly held principles
- Allegiance or loyalty, as to a cause or person
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- Blind Faith
- Child-like Faith
- Experiential Faith
- Spiritual Faith
Blind faith, we discussed, is a faith that is not based on proof. The expression “Faith is blind” means that we will accept information or ideas at the word of another without evidence. Some people believe that God will provide for them regardless of empirical evidence that this is so.
Child-like faith appeared to us to be an innate trust (found typically, as the name suggests, in children) that we will be taken care of. We noted that child-like faith can be destroyed when ideals are not met in the real world, such as when a parent fails to protect a child from harm. This requires the faith to be rebuilt over time, and when this is not possible, it may now look more like the next type of faith we discussed: Experiential faith.
Experiential faith is that which is based on experience, proof, or a high probability that events will unfold in a specific way. This type of faith is not innate, but built up by the individual via their history of experiences. Many people feel most comfortable with this type of faith because they know that there is evidence to support it. They are able to have faith that the Sun will come up every day, because it has come up every day in past.
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Spiritual faith appeared in our discussion as a faith which is based on our belief in a higher self or higher order to the Universe. This type of faith hinges on an understanding that “it all works”. That there is a larger order to things, and that our purpose is to find where we fit into that order. One of the ways that we can do this is to simply “jump in and flow” with the tide of events. It was suggested that if you have not found that feeling of “finding home”, you should maintain faith that there will be an answer to whatever is going on in your life. That things occur as they are supposed to, and that no matter where you are walking, you are on the right path.
Sometimes, situations can arise that shake our faith in this Grand Plan. How do we know that we are on the right path? We each may choose different ways to assure ourselves that we are moving in the right direction: some of us devote attention to taking better care of themselves, or making different decisions. For some, it involves listening to their Higher Power or intuition. For many, they know they’re on the right path because it just “feels right.” It was observed in continuing this line of thought, we need to pay attention to when something feels wrong as well, as this intuitive warning system may be able to prevent us from continuing down a wrong path.
Others believed that there is no such thing as a “wrong” path - that we can ever be in the wrong place, and that we will always be where we need to be to learn what we need to learn. An example of this was given by a member who lost job after 30 years of service. He was scared. What would he do now? But as events unfolded, he saw that everything fell into place. This experience has taught him to believe that things happen the way they are supposed to happen, and may not necessarily be what we have planned.
Someone stated: Without faith, you cannot have hope. When it came to the subject of hope and faith, we asked if it was possible to have one without the other. One participant said that he thought that hope must come first, before we can have faith. It was noted that within 12-step programs, such as AA, that people are asked to get rid of their expectations. We discussed whether expectations were the same thing as hope. One member said that she tries not to have expectations, and that this helps her avoid having her expectations go unmet.
As story from Perceptions was used as an example of the metaphysical aspect of how our expectations manifest, sometimes despite what we hope for:
“Let me tell you a little story told to me by my first teacher. A woman reading the Scripture is moved by the words, "If you had the faith of a mustard seed, you could move a mountain into the sea." She thought these were holy words and faith could do all things.
While reflecting, somewhat EUPHORIC, out her garden window, she noticed the pile of leaves she had raked together earlier in the day. Thinking of the Scripture, the words so fresh and strong, as if looking for a chance to be proven or expressed, she thought, "If faith can move mountains, then I believe I can move that pile of leaves." She went to bed that night with faith that the leaves would be gone. When she woke in the morning, she rushed to her garden window. With a sigh she said, "Just as I thought, they're still there."
Faith is this case is a confidence that something will happen.
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What is faith? Faith is something in our minds and in our souls, our way of life, and our beliefs.
Can we say experiential and spiritual faith go hand in hand? In a way all faiths go hand in hand and we are capable of having more than one kind of faith at the same time. In fact we are all connected in the word faith.