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Faith of A Mustard Seed

by Barbara Woods-Washington

Barbara Woods Washington

Barbara Woods-Washington, M. Div.

The title alone that Tillich has given this work, ‘The Dynamics Of Faith’, indicates a most important aspect of faith— Faith Is Dynamic!’  Where religious history’s authoritative forces have sought to formalize faith (and quite successfully as can be seen in the capitalistic state of the modern day church), it must be borne in mind that ‘Faith Is Dynamic!  As Howard Thurman puts it— around every corner lies a new encounter with God.  Faith is Dynamic!  With each new day’s dawning…

Must tarry awhile, then, in Tillich’s section ‘Faith As A Centered Act’ where he writes, “Faith as ultimate concern is an act of the total personality.  It happens in the center of the personal life and includes all its elements.  Faith is the most centered act of the human mind.”  “…This makes the psychology of personality highly dynamic and requires a dynamic theory of faith as the most personal of all personal acts.”

The discussion centers on several polarities which create tension and conflict by their very nature.  The unconscious and the conscious; faith and freedom; ego and superego; the ecstatic and the rational; cognitive and emotion.

Several dialogues this week on the state of the Church in a Politically controlled Nation. It has been no secret in my thoughts and expressions of faith that the “Freedom of Religious Rights guaranteed by this Nation’s “First Amendment to the Constitution” has been taken away, no, given away by the current force of oddly selected religious leaders. To the point where, as the old church folks sang it… ‘way down yonder by myself, I couldn’t hear nobody pray!”  In the midst of a Pandemic that has taken total and complete control of Life from the direction of Politicians on the ‘State’ side of life”, the “Church” has maintained a very silent, sorta ‘powerlessness’ if I would, giving over it’s rights of Freedom to do and to be and to speak and to proclaim and to HEAL —the dynamic powers of Faith in the “Healing of the Land”… Where is our Faith?  As though the “polarities which create tension and conflict” are in the hands of, not the “Church and State” but the “Pandemic and State”?  Not the “Dynamics of Faith”, but the ‘dynamics of covid’.

In my birth church, shouting was a free will way of worship.  No nurses, no ushers functioning as ‘prohibitors’ of spiritual and emotional acts of faith.  No water, no fans, no ‘holding of hands to form a constraining barrier???’ around an ecstatic act of faith.  Just the free will outpouring of faith in worship happening at the very ‘center of the personal life and including all its elements’.  As a child, it scared me to be in the midst of this worship and I recall my grandmother saying to me in my fright, “nobody ever got hurt in the spirit!”

Now, it scares me when I enter a church that has established a tradition to include an entire team of nurses dressed with capes, hats and all.  A conflict for me that the dynamics of faith at work in the personal life in worship has become a ‘formalized’ treatment as illness.  Looking at some of the ‘worship nurses’ (and ushers with fans and water; and ‘ring barriers’) I’m thinking you could use a good ‘spiritual movement’ in you!  You might hear me crying out, “you can’t put that fire out!  It’s a Holy Ghost fire!  Let it  burn!  Let it burn!”  I can say to the one who is experiencing a dynamic act of faith, “Receive power!  Receive power!  The world can’t give it.  The world can’t take it.  Hallelujah.  Glory Hallelujah.”  Faith is dynamic.

Can’t go without a statement Tillich makes in discussing the polarity of ‘faith and freedom’ where he has a logic line conclusion that “faith IS freedom”.  Jesus said it— “whom the Son sets free is free indeed.”

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