On Sunday, July 8, the common Lectionary used by many Christian denominations gave a reading from the sixth chapter of the Gospel of Mark in which Jesus returns to Nazareth to find that his friends and neighbors, those who knew him from childhood, could not bring themselves to believe that he was anything other than a carpenter's son. It concludes with the sad statement, "So he was not able to work any mighty deeds there, apart from curing a few sick people by laying his hands on them. He was amazed at their lack of faith."
It is a cautionary tale to all of us who call ourselves people of faith, followers of Christ, never to underestimate the Lord or to assume we know everything about what he can accomplish. My time here in Williamsport is drawing to a close, and I can say without a doubt that faith is living and active here in this county. I have seen it in a community that rallied to overcome natural disaster in last fall's flooding. I have seen faith alive in our church communities working together for many different causes - the poor, the protection of the unborn and most recently the call to defend religious liberty. Williamsport is a city that believes, and I feel that this is what makes this community a special one.
The United Churches of Lycoming County is an organization that brings many Christian churches together to accomplish wonderful things for the Lord,and its flourishing here is a testament to the place that faith holds in this community. As I leave here, I take with me great memories of the mighty deeds accomplished every day by God through his instruments like the ministries of United Churches. It is clear to me, having lived here just three short years, that faith is not lacking, and where there is faith, the Lord can and does accomplish many things.
Cherish faith, let it take ever deeper roots in your community, and you will see even mightier deeds done in His name, and Williamsport can become an oasis, lush with faith, in an arid desert of cynicism and doubt.
God bless you all.
Kirby is pastor at St. Joseph the Worker Catholic Parish, 711 W. Edwin St.