"When dawn spreads its paintbrush on the plain, spilling purple... ," Sons of the Pioneers theme for TV show "Wagon Train." Dawn on the mythic Santa Fe Trail, New Mexico, looking toward Raton from Cimarron. -- Clarkphoto. A curmudgeon artist's musings melding metaphors and journalism, for readers in more than 150 countries.

Saturday, December 24, 2022

Christmas Eve--Faith is a Verb

 En El Principio era El Verbo, y El Verbo era con Dios, y El Verbo era Dios

                                                    --San Juan 1:1

Faith is a verb. As is God, as is eternity.

Short story: When I taught writing at UCO, I'd use John 1:1 to emphasize the critical importance of verbs.

At a state university, I could usually count on a few students to quote John 1:1, in English. Then I'd explain, assuring the class that they didn't have to believe, but I wanted them to understand the theology behind it, that the "Word" was the agent of Creation ("Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life...."),  the pre-existent Christ.

Then I'd ask for the Spanish word of "word," and a few could answer "palabra." Then I'd put the  Spanish version up on the board, which is closer to the original Latin, and thus Greek: "En El Principio, era El Verbo...!"

Lesson: if you want to  "create" writing, sentences, pay attention to the verbs!

As I painted today's Christmas Eve card, I thought of people around the world gathering in churches, and homes, especially the poor, the paisanos and pueblo people of northern New Mexico. They  gather, walking through snow, to their adobe churches, expressing faith in their actions, seeking peace and sustenance in their humble lives.  Their faith is not something fancy or elaborate or have, but who they are and do.

Those were my thoughts last night as I was considering how to write this today. But then...

My mornings start with a reading from the journals of Thomas Merton. Today's selection, from Dec. 15, 1962,  had to be more than coincidence.

Consider these excerpts (italics are his):

  • " The interior surrender of faith... (is)...an act of obedience, ie., self-commitment... (submitting) to God's truth in its power to give life, and to command one to live.
  • "...Faith is not simply an act of choice, and option for a certain solution to the problem of existence, etc....To believe is to consent  to a creative command that raises us from the dead."

Tonight many of the faithful (those full of faith, a verb) gather to celebrate  the Verb who became flesh, "Y el Verbo se hizo carne...." San Juan 1:14 

No wonder faith  is a verb!

(P.S. I know, two sermons in one post today. Also consider that faith is different than belief. )


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