Wearing our faith

September 25, 2013 | Viewpoints | Number 19
Melissa Miller |

I’m not usually one to proclaim my loyalties through what I wear. I don’t own a sports jersey, and I don’t wear a cross, although I’m not judging those who do. So the ribbons currently on my wrist are unusual. They catch my eye at different times during the day, while spreading butter on my morning toast or while driving in the car. And when my hands are energetically engaged in storytelling or reinforcing a verbal point the ribbons start flapping. The ribbons are a reminder; each ribbon bears a Bible reference.

I tied on the first ribbon during a sermon I preached a few weeks ago. The scripture that day was Deuteronomy 6:4-9. I reminded the congregation and myself that God has made us teachers of our children, and then tied on a ribbon in keeping with the instructions in verse 8, to “bind them as a sign on your hand,” “them” referring to God’s commandments. In my case, “them” refers to one of 13 core verses identified by Mennonite Church Canada as treasured by Mennonite Christians for generations. At my church, we’ve picked up the accompanying MennoMedia resource, “Dig In: Thirteen Scriptures to Help Us Know the Way,” and are digging in to these gems in adult education as well as in worship.

The ribbons bound around my wrist remind me of the particular scriptures, and of my Christian faith more generally. The sight of them pulls me back into the central messages of these passages:

  • “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might.”
  • “The Word became flesh and lived among us.”
  • “If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.”

It’s possible, Gentle Reader, that you don’t get as excited as I do about such wondrous, powerful words, but hopefully we all can see that they are worth contemplation and ingestion. This week, I told my congregation that the Bible is like bread. It sustains and nourishes us like dense, wholesome, multi-textured bread, the best bread we can imagine. It is useful for teaching and for correction and for training, as we take it in, chew and mull it over, and make it part of ourselves. Like bread and food that give us energy to live and work and play and struggle, the Bible gives us the means to walk with God in faithfulness and integrity, in love and in trust.

So these ribbons are a little way of connecting me to God and God’s Word. Back to the Deuteronomy text, it reminds me of my responsibility to teach younger generations God’s ways, and to show them God’s words, wrapped around our wrists, written on the doors of our houses, and lived out through our daily actions. How are we teaching our children God’s words and God’s ways? How are we speaking about them day in and day out, in the little and big moments of our lives? How do we proclaim God’s message in a world that is overwhelmingly full of godless messages?

The Bible, with all its complexity and variety, even contradictions, remains one of the clearest, most compelling ways God speaks to us—over centuries, through translations, with many voices, and especially as it bears witness to Jesus as the clearest expression we have of God. Let’s honour the awesome privilege we have of teaching our children God’s Word, written in Scripture, living through the risen Christ, and interpreted for us by the Spirit speaking in our diverse, mutually respectful communities of faith.

Melissa Miller (familyties@mymts.net) lives in Winnipeg. She is wrapped in the family ties of daughter, sister, wife, mother, friend and pastor.

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