Faith is …..

The one who eats this bread will live for ever.

Faith is the reason we are here.

It was by faith that the sons and daughters of William Cotton built this church in the 1880s and it is because of our faith that we keep it open today.

but let’s be honest –  faith in the 21st century and in Leytonstone is not as strong as was in the 19th century –    these days faith is shakey  …. some would say it is hard –  people have lost faith

 –people have forgotten how to have faith – people have forgotten where to look for faith. 

And so we must lead the way – however scarey that may seem –  we must show the world that it can be done  –   that faith is possible  – that we can have faith.

Even though people  have lost faith in their leaders,  

Even though people have lost faith in the scientific experts,  

even though people have fogotten how to trust one another.

And even though people have lost faith in the church

…  even though  faith is in such very short supply all around us  – we must show a better way….

we must show the way of faith.  

We  must show how to move forward into the future by faith, not by sight  –  positively,  hopefully, confidently  – together..

because we know that faith is not about us believing the impossible, or about believing in impossible people – but that real faith is believing that God is always faithful with us and towards us.

And this future will teach us many new things –   more than we can ever imagine …….   that there are more dimensions to this great universe,  that there are more forms of existence in this great universe,  that Einstein’s time and space and energy are just a small few of the many complicated forces which make up this amazing universe of galaxies and space  –– more than we can ever imagine.

And our faith today will grow into fulfilment  tomorrow –  it will not disappear.

Things we call miracles will have new names, just as the things people called miracles in the past have new names now.  Spirituality,  prayer, grace, the love of God, the fellowship of the Holy Spirit, will not disappear, they will become  more real and true and necessary as we learn more … .

For the world is filled with more miracles and more spirituality, and more grace and love and fellowship  – than we know, and than we can ever imagine … there is more of all these things  – more of God’s faithfulness with us and towards us all around us – not less –    and our faith – the faith that brings us here today – the faith we need to share –

 is believing that all this is out there ready to be discovered by a hungry world – – even though we cannot yet explain how this will come to pass.  We live by faith.

Every day sick people are cured completely of diseases and disabilities which in the past would have sent them to an early grave  – and these miracles will happen more and more, as we move on into the future –  not less and less.  Doctors, surgeons, nurses, make the blind see, make the lame walk, administer a new  dna gene and cure a small child who has a wasting disease which before would have killed him – it is scientific, understood, it can now be explained – and yet all these things are no less a miracle – perhaps they are more of a miracle now we understand it.

Every day bread and wine turn into real flesh and blood – and I do not just mean that every day bread and wine turn into the flesh and blood of Christ in the Mass   – I mean that every day in our own houses real bread and real wine turn into our own real living flesh and our blood – it is scientific, it can be explained  –  the food and drink that we eat truly become our own living body – real flesh and real blood – transubstantiation is actually the most normal and essential every day part of life – it is the very basis of life –  it is a miracle.

And all this is but the tip of the proverbial iceberg – for everything must be transubstantiated!  

There is so much more for us to discover – so much that is not yet understood – so many more miracles just waiting to happen ..  so much more future … 

 we must live by faith – the alternative – to live by despair –  is Hell.

So we must never say that nothing can be done  – We must never say that things can not get better,

We must never say that poverty will never cease, that wars will never end,

we live by faith – that all things can change –  and that even though we cannot see how – it will happen. The alternative is death.

Jesus said:  The one who eats this bread will live for ever.

Now  of course I know that faith is not limited to Christians. There are many other great faiths in this world  which live by  faith – people living in hope and in the firm belief that God will make all things better one day even when all the evidence suggests the opposite.  

And I know that there are people who do not believe in God at all and yet who still have faith – faith in human nature, faith in human hope, faith in a good future somehow.  God bless them all – I say.

But this generation – this part of the world where we live now  –  is so very weak in faith

People have made it so hard for themselves.  

They have forgotten and have even rejected the  beautiful heritage of faith which we share and which is here on their doorstep….  they have forgotten, and even rejected the beautiful story of faith and prayer and spirituality and miracle which people have shared in this land for almost 2000 years, and which people have shared in this church for over a hundred years –  and which we share Sunday by Sunday, and day by day.

Yes, they have made it hard for themselves, but they have made it even harder for their children and for their children’s children who do not even know the story they do not know.

And, so, yes,  I believe that Jesus got it right –  and that should not come as much of a surprise ….

   Jesus gave us a command  – a command I say, not just a request –  a command to meet together and to break bread together in remembrance of him –   Do this – he said – in remembrance of me …..   

why?  Well I believe he knew that when people stop meeting together, when people stop sharing this  spiritual story together with one another, when people leave the community and go alone and try to do their own thing, they always end up by losing faith in God who is always faithful with us and towards us.   

This bread – this bread of Holy Communion – is not magic, – it is more than magic…..   it is the thing which forces us to come together as a Christian community …  whoever we are, whereever we are…   Communion refuses to allow us to do our own thing and have faith on our own in isolation –  we have to do it with other people – ..  and we have to do it with the greatest and with the least of saints across the ages and across the world –  this is the faith we share and this is the faith in which we can grow if we choose to.

We, who are many, are one body, for we all share in the one bread.

We are here because we have faith – however weak, however fragile, however questioning that faith may be – we are here….  and we are here because we want to have more faith. …..  faith in a different world perhaps –  faith in a better humanity  – faith in more miracles, – faith in a spiritual world which we do not yet understand. …   and because Jesus said that by faith we can move mountains – not because we can move mountains, but because God can – and God is always faithful with us and towards us. – that is the promise.

Jesus said:  the bread of God is the bread that comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.”

34 “Sir,” they said, “give us this bread always.”  35 Jesus said, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.

The one who eats this bread will live for ever.   ..  

The Very Rev’d Paul Kennington