Summer is long gone. Fall is here. School has begun. Kids are getting settled in their classrooms and getting to know their new teachers. Every new school year begins with this sense of a new beginning. It is an opportunity for a fresh start.
I was in a meeting a few weeks ago when the presenter talked about bubbles, the sort of bubbles that float on the water when we run a bath. The bubbles that kids run after when they blow it. I am sure you've seen a lot of that this past summer. A couple of weeks ago, I saw a mechanical bubble that could make tens of bubbles in a minute. You don’t have to blow it the traditional way; you simply press a button for the bubbles to be made.
The interesting thing about bubbles is that each is different. They may come in similar sizes and shapes. Some fizzle out in a moment. Others can float for a little longer. The one similarity among all bubbles is the transparency. In spite of the many differences, there’s one thing that is common to each bubble - they are transparent enough for you to see through each of them. And for me, that is what our faith should be - transparent.
There’s something to be said about transparent faith. In my mind, it's the faith that is so open and inviting like bubbles. It is the faith that is unrelenting in its desire to see things through. It is the faith that endures all things with little to no complaints. It's the faith that hopes for a better tomorrow - that is to say that the challenges of today, however difficult they may be, aren’t enough. Those challenges are like bubbles.
Like bubbles, faith comes in different shapes and sizes. But for faith to be rooted in God, it has to be as transparent as bubbles, strong and resilient and yet vulnerable. You may ask, "Why should faith have to be vulnerable?" Well, this is because a vulnerable faith understands that life isn’t going to be rosy all the time and that different events may tempt, or even question, our faith. Faith has to be vulnerable to accept this, but it also has to be strong and resilient enough to spring back to life from the abyss of vulnerability - and to do so with gratitude.
I once visited a parishioner who had been going through a lot. My two previous visits took place in the hospital. The third visit was to the home. They said something so profound: "I have no idea how I could’ve survived without faith. I am not out of the woods yet. But I am grateful for the faith that I have. That has made all the difference for me." I sat watching this parishioner tell their story with tears streaming down their face. Those tears were as transparent as bubbles, but they told a story of someone whose faith, whatever the size it was, has been of great benefit.
You may not know the size of your faith, nor do I know the size of mine. But here is an illustration:
If you go to the gym today and return home to look in the mirror, you wouldn’t see any change in your body but will feel some soreness. If you go back the next day, return home, and again look in the mirror, you wouldn’t see any change in your body, but again, you will feel the soreness. If you go back the next day, you will still see nothing but will feel the soreness. If you keep going back to the gym and keep working out, in spite of the soreness that you may feel, you will eventually see something, a change. The issue really isn’t so much about going to the gym, it is about consistency - going to the gym even in spite of the soreness or any other excuse you may find. It is your consistency that pays off in the end.
This past Sunday, we began a new worship service for children and families. It took painstaking work from a lot of people before we got to this point. I was blown away by the number of people who attended. The challenge is not so much about offering another worship opportunity, but about offering ourselves as bubbles because the children that we seek to serve enjoy playing with bubbles. It is a different kind of building a platform.
Offering ourselves as bubbles would mean being transparent about our faith. More than that, it would mean being consistent about our faith practice.
Summer may be long gone, but our faith is still present with us, offering us the opportunity for a fresh start with God.
Next time you see any bubbles, think about how transparent, resilient, vulnerable, and consistent your faith ought to be.