“A faith of convenience is a hollow faith.”

In her book Tramp for the Lord Corrie Ten Boom says that “Faith is like radar that sees through the fog.” I like that!  Being from the Holy Land of Newfoundland I can relate to fog imagery very well. Some days the fog can be so thick and so dense that navigating a path or a way seems almost impossible. For mariners, fog was sometimes deadly and indeed the advent of radar make life for those who live on the sea a little easier. It makes a big difference when you know where you are going even if you cannot see it!

Yesterday we attended the funeral of twenty-three year old Kyle Beyer. He is a cousin to Catherinanne and his father and mother, Dan and Chris have always been close with Catherinanne’s parents. Just about three months ago we attended Dan’s funeral. To say that Chris and her surviving children Chad and Amanda have had a hard time recently would be a gross understatement. Having said that, it was privilege to be present at the funeral yesterday, to hear of Chris’ faith and to have her witness to what he faith gives to her. Pastor Jerry Yarnell gave a great homily that clearly spoke to his long knowledge of the family and his love for God and God’s community. I was particularly moved by a story that he shared from over 23 years ago. Chris was miscarrying and called on her pastor. Jerry attended and prayed with her. A few months later she had Kyle. Chris reminded Jerry of that day when he called to offer is care and support upon hearing of Kyle’s death. She said, “I had him for nearly 24 years.” I was moved by such gratitude in the midst of great pain.  “Faith is like radar that sees through the fog.”  Surely Chris and her family might be forgiven for feeling angry or bitter. But there is none of that. I am so thankful for that witness of faith. In the midst of the dense fog that has surrounded that family, their faith has been the instrument employed to help them navigate to safe harbours. 

I watch that great TV series M*A*S*H in reruns all the time. It is probably my favourite TV series of all time. In an episode I watched recently Father Mulcahy turns the Mess tent into a sanctuary to protect an AWOL solider. In the midst of the dialogue Father Mulcahy says, “A faith of convenience is a hollow faith.” This proves to be true. Take a look at the faith of convenience that we see around us all and that we participate in. Nowadays there are a host of evangelist out there telling any willing to listen that faith is about return. In their prosperity preaching they assert that God ‘looks after’ those who have faith. The word is that if you live faith properly, you will be rewarded with plenty. That to me is a faith of convenience.  Then there is the everyday practice that we all seem to participate in. We call on God with a shopping list, “God please grant, X,Y,Z, and oh by the way my wife really needs some D.” Or we get into crises and find ourselves crying to God bargaining that, if we only get out of the mess we have ourselves into, we will go to church forever. That is a faith of convenience. How about when we are in social company and people make light of God, poke fun at believers, disparage others who are weak and we are silent or worse we participate. But then when we are in other circles and there are faith conversations taking place we espouse to be the faithful. At that moment we too are living a faith of convenience. The Private in that episode of M*A*S*H has the good Padre sympathizing for him. He takes on faith as a tool to get what he needs. Father Mulcahy admonishes him when his true colours shine through with the great line, “A faith of convenience is a hollow faith.”

We need to hear those words of conversion. We all sometimes exercise a hollow faith, a faith of convenience. Yet, we all know the love of a God who has adopted us as children of light. Knowing that we need to look to people like Chris in her grief to see what faith in action can look like. We need to be reminded that faith is what can see us through all manner of being, the good, the bad and the mystical…and yes even the foggy. Thanks’ for the witness Chris.    

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