Faith is a Verb

Sign on Bike & Build trailer in the First Congregational Church of Granby, CT parking lot

“To have faith in something is an inducement not to dormancy but to action. To me, faith is not just a noun but also a verb.”

– President Jimmy Carter

I’ve had the good fortune and honor of meeting President Carter a few times including being invited to sit right beside him at lunch on a Habitat for Humanity work site in Haiti, as well as, to attend one of his Sunday school lessons at Maranatha Baptist Church in Plains, Georgia. What has always impressed me is his true interest getting to know a person as an individual — you, me, whomever he is with. As his friend Rev. Eloy Cruz taught him, people need “to love the person who happens to be in front of  [them] at any particular time.” That is, it’s vital to deal in specifics (what we actually will commit to doing) in our relationships with the people around us — those we know, those who are strangers, those we serve, those who serve us, those who need protection from injustice. It led Carter to a question he continues ask himself to this day, “What shall I do?” It’s a question we should ask ourselves always, individually and as a group.

President Jimmy Carter welcoming the congregation before teaching his Sunday School lesson at Maranatha Baptist Church, Plains, GA

To help keep me focused on President Carter’s question, I frequently listen to These Hands a song sung by one of my favorite singers Dave Gunning of Nova Scotia. It’s a song I’d like my church to sing. Here are excerpts from the lyrics by Dave Gunning and George Canyon:

Dave Gunning performing at the Salmon Brook Music Series in Granby, CT

Some hands have held the world together
Some hands have fought in wars forever
Tell me what shall I do with these hands of mine


Some hands have blessed a million people
Some hands helped free the world from evil
Tell me what shall I do with these hands of mine 


The world could use a hero of the human kind
So tell me what shall I do with these hands of mine


Some hands can stop a life from dying
Some hands comfort a baby crying
So tell me what shall I do with these hands of mine 


The world could use a hero of the human kind
So tell me what shall I do with these hands of mine


I want to sing it from my heart, I want to hear it in the wind ‘Til it blows around the world, and comes back again All that we can ask, is for ours to be free To use them when we want, for whatever the need


Some hands give voice to a nation
Some hands wrote “The Times They Are a-Changin'”
So tell me what shall I do with these hands of mine


The world could use a hero of the human kind
So tell me what shall I do with these hands of mine

To fulfill our individual and collective responsibility to build a better world, we must answer the question, What shall we do with these hands of ours? Faith is a verb for all of us.

Don Shaw, Jr.
Writer and Editor
RedTruckStonecatcher.com
Photos by Don Shaw, Jr.


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