I am truly a logophile. I love words, all kinds of words—new words, old words, unpronounceable technical words. I also find the development of language fascinating. When “ginormous” became a word I thought it was rather ridiculous. Surely, there are enough words in the English language to describe something that is exceedingly large. I guess not. Recently, “text” has gone from a noun to a verb. If you are a Scrabble aficionado, then you know that the official dictionary allows for words one does not utter in polite company and some of us never utter. Words are great! Now I want the power to invent a new one.
When I read the laments of this week’s scriptures, it’s easy enough to add my own voice to them. I could sit down by the river and weep over the state of the world and the loss of days that are remembered as more simple, or better, times. My tears could easily flow for the empty pews in churches everywhere. I could add in the personal things that taste of “wormwood and gal.” There’s nothing wrong with lamenting in response to loss and pain. The psalmist’s cry of “how long O Lord” is a prayer just as valid today any day in human history. The problem is that too many of us get stuck in laments. We forget that they are prayers and instead of waiting for an answer, we fall into constant complaining. We start looking backward in sadness and then forget to look around or forward to see what else there is.
This is where my new word would fit in. It isn’t so much a new word as a shift in a word’s identity. When Jesus’ disciples asked him to increase their faith, he essentially told them that it wasn’t about quantity. Faith is faith. I am now suggesting that faith ought to be a verb. It ought to be an action verb. To faith would mean to live life fully engaging in acts of justice, love, and peace to glorify God and improve creation. The disciples would have asked Jesus to show them how to faith better. He would have said, “If you faithed even for a moment, the world would transform before your eyes.”
Ideally lamenting would lead to faithing. Cry out to God in pain and grief and then get busy clearing the way for God’s restorative work in the world. If faith were a verbe, then when somebody asks what I did today, I could say that I faithed. I lamented, prayed, listened, advocated, and worked hard to improve life on this planet. Tonight, I plan on faithing some more. You get the idea. If faith were a verb, would we think about it differently? Would it be more visible in the world? I’ve yet to see a mulberry tree growing in the sea, but it could happen.
Have you faithed today?
RCL – Year C – Twentieth Sunday after Pentecost – October 6, 2012
Lamentations 1:1-6 with Lamentations 3:19-26 or Psalm 137 or
Habakkuk 1:1-4, 2:1-4 with Psalm 37:1-9
2 Timothy 1:1-14