Yesterday before worship we announced that Virginia-Highland Church has received a gift of $250,000 that will allow us to hire an associate pastor and more fully resource our homeless program, which we call The River. It was an exciting announcement, especially considering the check is almost equal to our entire budget for this year. (You can watch a video of the announcement HERE.)
The congregation applauded the announcement, and some called it a miracle. If they have ever done any fundraising they know what a miracle it really is. The entire process from conception to donation took less than 10 days.
It was almost like magic, except I don’t believe in magic. Well, that is not completely true. I DO believe in magic; it is a trick that fools the mind, and sometimes the heart, into believing something that isn’t true. That is why it distresses me that so much of what passes as faith or traditional Christianity is actually magical thinking.
Oh, don’t get me wrong; I have expressed my gratitude to God a thousand times for this gift. It would be magical thinking, however, to believe that our prayers or faith manipulated God into intervening and making this happen on our behalf–that we said the correct words, behaved the proper way, thought the right thoughts so God blessed us. No, there probably are a million other causes at least as deserving and faithful that could use this money. Still, I thank God for the gift.
I don’t believe in magic, but I do believe in miracles. I believe that amazing things happen when faithful people encounter the Stream of Life, when having done all we are called to do that God does yet more and it makes a world of difference. It isn’t us magically manipulating God or the universe to do our will, our way, in our time. Rather, it is being faithful to our calling and letting God do the rest. Sometimes the results are miraculous, inexplicable, and amazing. For such times, I am eternally grateful.
Rev. Michael Piazza