Pentacost Faith Stories Part 2

Updated: Aug 16, 2018

The further reflections of Pentecost Sunday, courtesy of their authors, each of whom served as a confirmation mentor for one of our youth. Paired with last week’s entry, this completes the presentations from our Pentecost service. Many thanks to our contributors!

I will with God’s help.

I remember driving home from a Godspell rehearsal with Miriam, Anita, and Anna last year. Godspell is full of parables, and I’d like to tell you that we were discussing the theological meaning of the parable of the sower or the Good Samaritan or the Prodigal Son. But, we weren’t. We were talking about a silly line in the middle of “Turn Back, O Man”.

“Jesus, take the wheel.”

We talked about the Carrie Underwood song, how it tells the story of a single mom driving on a snowy Christmas Eve with a baby in the backseat. She hits a patch of black ice, causing her to lose control of her car. She panics, takes her hands off the steering wheel, and cries out to Jesus. It is this cry for help that saves her from danger; she and her baby are safe in the end.

Even though I generally like country music when sung by women, and I’m a sucker for a good story song, this song had always struck me as being kind of trite. And, as a parent of teenagers, I can’t advocate for removing our hands from the steering wheel when the driving gets scary. But, when one of the kids in my car asked if Jesus could really take control of a moving vehicle, I had to accept the gift of being asked a faith question by my kids and set aside my liberal theological background for a minute. “Yes, kids. Jesus can take the wheel.” Viewed through a less country-fried lens, yes, kids, God can help, and you need to know that. God can help when you feel frightened or inadequate or weak or out of place or hard to love. So, we will with God’s help, and God’s help is no small thing.

Doug Brown


When I was in confirmation class many decades ago at Swarthmore Presbyterian Church in PA, I got stuck on this question: “Do you accept Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior?” What did it mean to call someone a Lord? What was a savior, and what did I need to be saved from?

I struggled with the language of faith, and that year, I chose not to join the church. I wasn’t ready. But I kept coming back and listening and pondering, and a few years later, I got to a place where I said, YES to church. I said YES to resonating with the story of Jesus and especially with the parables. I love the way Jesus rarely offered easy answers. He’d say, “The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed.” Or “two men were in a field.” Or he’d turn one question into a new one: “Who is your neighbor?”

The people of the Bible wanted this Jesus to be a Messiah—a savior—and in so many words, he told them: if you want a savior, go spend time with someone who’s lonely. Go rock a newborn baby with fetal alcohol syndrome. Go identify the systemic wrongs in your community and seek out ways to right those wrongs. Stop looking for salvation in all the wrong directions.

For me, faith means saying YES to engaging with a whole bunch of people who are also listening and seeking and searching. Being part of a church gives me a deep sense of gratitude for those who are on the journey with me, and for all who have journeyed before me.