The other day I was listening to a podcast interview of Neil deGrasse Tyson. The astrophysicist is one of my heroes. It’s not because I can even begin to understand his field, but because he has helped to make the universe a little more relatable to me. In the interview he was being praised by the host for being so smart. To which Tyson replied that the truly smart people are not the ones with a wall full of degrees but are those can create a new idea in a sea of old ideas.
That got me thinking… there is no deeper sea of old ideas than the church. We (and by that I mean the church as an institution and not this church specifically) are steeped in tradition and ways we have already done it. And yet, our faith is ever evolving as we face new ideas, perspectives and challenges.
One of the things that impressed me most about this congregation is the commitment to faith formation throughout life. Study and learning are not just for Sunday School. The level of interest in and commitment to adult education here is wonderful. Right now we are in the midst of a study of “The Phoenix Affirmations” with about 24 participants who share ideas, insights and are receptive to thinking about faith. In our very first session we explored this concept of openness to learning and exposure to other faiths and perspectives. Everyone felt that those experiences had helped them grow in their faith.
I think that this commitment to faith formation throughout life is the key to this churches vitality and it comes in many forms. Learning and growing in faith is not limited to attending a book or Bible study. Teaching Children’s Church or serving as a Confirmation Mentor are wonderful ways to continue to learn. Engaging in mission opportunities that not only allow us to live out our faith, but that take us out of our comfort zone expand our minds and our perspective. Engaging in conversation about faith, particularly with those who may see things differently than you do, also encourages growth. Even listening to the message in word and music on a Sunday morning can be a learning experience.
This church offers plenty of opportunities. I invite you take advantage of them. If you don’t see something you like, start your own and bring others into the experience with you. May we continue to live out of our faith through continued learning, study and experience!