You have faith and I have works
Sermon of the Dean of St Paul's Cathedral, the Very Reverend Dr John Moses, at the Service of Celebration and Thanksgiving for the United Grand Lodge of England, 18 June 2002
Some one will say, "You have faith and I have works". Show me your faith apart from your
works, and I by my works will show you my faith". (James ii 18)
Faith and works: these are the two words that lie at the heart of this verse as surely as they lie at the heart of Freemasonry. Faith and works: Yes they are words that beg many questions, words that can so easily be misunderstood; but words that are absolutely basic to our lives as human beings. Faith: Some will say that the long centuries of faith are receding fast, at least in the western world. We live in a secular age in which some of the most basic religious assumptions can no longer be taken for granted.
The idea of God; the idea of sin, of judgement, of
accountability; the values by which we live: all these things are called in question at a philosophical and - no
less importantly - at a practical level.
And yet I am far from being pessimistic that faith religious faith - belongs merely to our past. There is in many people some sense of God and of all that that word represents.
I can only speak as a Christian priest, but my experience suggests to me that there are large numbers of people who may not be in church every Sunday, but who want the church to be there, and who want it to hold certain priorities, certain values.
The dialogue is not easily achieved between those who live by faith and those who live - or appear to live - without
faith. But let there be no doubt concerning the hunger - the spiritual hunger - that is to be found wherever we turn.
And if it is the case in some areas of life that faith is receding, then it will certainly come to pass - as surely as night follows day - that the gods, the pagan aberrations of all that we mean by God, will move quickly into the vacuum we create.
And we can say that
with confidence, because
we are not made to live our lives as self-sufficient, autonomous, pleasure-seeking human beings.
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