“Faith is the realization of what is hoped for and evidence of things not seen.” The writer of the letter to the Hebrews sums up for us this notion of faith, which can be so difficult to wrap our minds around. What I love about the definition of faith that comes to us in this passage is that it seems to be telling us what we at some level already know: faith is a heritage. The passage speaks of the faith of Abel, Enoch, and Noah, all stories we can readily read in our Old Testament, stories of men who had to really take a leap of faith because what they hoped for was unseen. Only God could fulfill all their hopes and longings.
The same, of course, is true for us. We are living in difficult times. There is uncertainty in the economy to the point that probably none of us can say that we don’t know someone affected by layoffs, devalued stock, or a dwindling economy. There is uncertainty in the world, with wars being fought almost everywhere we can think of, and especially our own men and women fighting in Afghanistan and Iraq. Our own state has political issues to the point that it’s hard to know which politicians are honest and which are not, and we almost hate to turn on the television and hear of how deep the scandal has grown. We have our own personal family uncertainties, maybe loved ones are sick, or are suffering from depression. Maybe relationships are strained.
For all of us who live in these uncertain times, Jesus offers us hope. We get a glimpse today at what we hope for and cannot now see: Jesus is transfigured before Peter, James and John. This is a foretaste of the glory of the Resurrection, a glory that Jesus knew when he rose from the dead, and a glory that we yet hope for. It’s not pie in the sky: we know that our promise in Christ is greater than any of the difficulties our time can bring us. We know that faith is our heritage, and that that faith has led all of our forebears through times as difficult or more difficult than this. Today, we have the promise of things hoped for and evidence of things unseen: Christ is our hope, yesterday, today and for ever.