Fear and Faith

August 11, 2019

Luke 12:32-40

Fear and Faith.

These are the recurring themes from our lessons this morning.  Could living our lives be as simple as stripping everything away to whether we are living in fear or if we are living in faith? Do we know how to name fear, and do we know how to name faith?

Sometimes fear is very evident and can be seen in the faces of little children. This past Thursday I had the opportunity to meet Alice whose husband was deported after following the legal process for nearly two decades. She shared how her five-year-old granddaughter had developed a fear of police after her grandfather had been taken. She would scream and cry while they were in the car whenever they saw a police officer. To combat this fear, she had a friend dress up as a police officer come over to their house and teach her that the police are not people to fear. She wanted to make sure that if she was ever in trouble, she knew that she could go to a police officer for help. For some, that feeling of safety and freedom is hard to find in this earthly world. That is when we turn towards God to catch a glimpse of the hope that resides in Jesus.

There is an absolute freedom in the reign of God which calls us to live in faith and to banish fear from our lives.

It can be easy to let fear control our lives. It has happened over and over again. As we turn to history, we can look at the rise of the Third Reich and Nazi Germany. Fear in the face of Hitler gripped Germany, while many people knowing what was happening, chose not to raise their voices. Many of those people were Lutheran! The fear also went the other direction as the reich created a fear of those that were different, resulting in nearly 11 million people killed during the Holocaust, simply because they did not fit the model picture of what the leaders thought humankind should look like. Fortunately, the rest of Europe and America stepped up to this manufactured fear of the other and fought to bring peace and freedom to Europe.

It is easy to co-op the gospel to your own making and we have seen it done in our own country through slavery, segregation, opposition to suffrage, and even to our present-day treatment of the stranger and neighbor among us.

Fear is not new. Fear has shaped humanity from the very beginning. Fear gripped Abram as he was afraid that he would not have any heirs to receive the blessing of the Lord. He was fearful of what would happen to his possessions after he died. What would happen to those things that he had been promised? He was fearful it may go to a slave born within his house.

Fear has gripped the disciples as they think about the difficult call that Jesus is continuing to make for them to follow. They worry about what is coming next and how they are going to live in their lives with Jesus. Jesus’ ministry is changing things and that change brings the unknown. Change can easily heighten our sense of fear.

When our surroundings change, our sense of direction is thrown out of whack and it can be easy to get lost. Do we become complicit to the negative changes around us like history has done in the past, such as Nazi Germany?  Do we embrace the change that lifts up all of God’s creation and pray for it as the in-breaking of the reign of God?

To move toward the freedom found in Jesus, we must acknowledge our fear.

Jesus is well aware of our fears and says, “Do not be afraid.” Our first response may be cynicism.

Thanks, Jesus! Sometimes that is much harder than what you suggest. Change is difficult. The unfamiliar can scare us. When we venture into the unknown our knees begin to quake and buckle. And in the midst of it, you tell us, “do not be afraid!” Yet, somewhere amid our fear we can begin to find just that tiniest seed of faith. That is all it takes. And, each one of us has that seed within us, even when it does not feel like it.

The author of Hebrews reminds us of what faith can look like. “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” Abraham learned what it meant to have faith. He found the freedom that is in the grace of God. As he listened to God and released all of his fears, he began to truly understand what God had been calling him to from the very beginning.

Jesus nurtured the seed of faith in the disciples that are following him, “have no fear little flock.” Jesus continues to nurture those seeds within us through the freedom that is given to us to follow and obey his word. Our faith, as it grows, begins to drive the fear out. There is an absolute freedom in the reign of God which calls us to live in faith and to banish fear from our lives.

Throughout history the faithful have been lifted for us to remember. Today we remember the faith of Clare of Assisi. Clare was friends with Francis of Assisi before he heeded the call from God to rebuild God’s church. Clare faithfully followed in the footsteps of Francis. Clare learned what it meant to give herself wholeheartedly to living into her faith. Her faith led her to found the Order of the Poor Ladies. Fear was not on her radar and the example of her faith lives on today as we remember her.

Fear and faith are both powerful entities. The question is, which one are you allowing to direct your life? Will you live into the fear of the unknown, the fear of change, or the fear of those that are different? Or, will you embrace your God-given faith to bring the reign of God closer to all of God’s creation?

This morning I leave you with a prayer from Clare,

I pray you most gentle Jesus…

Give me a lively faith, a firm hope, and perfect charity,

so that I may love you with all my heart,

and all my soul, and all my strength.

Make me steadfast in good works

and grant me perseverance in your service,

so that I may please you always. Amen

You Will Be Free Indeed!

accomplishment action adult adventure
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

October 28, 2018 Reformation Sunday

John 8:31-36

As many of you know, I grew up in a town that was just a little bigger than Richmond. It lacked diversity, much like Richmond. And honestly, there was little to do in town, so we would quite often drive to Lansing on the weekends to go shopping or see a new movie that our little theater in town would most likely not get.

I don’t think I was much different from most people when I looked forward to getting out of the town to seek my own freedom. As soon as I got my drivers license and my own car I was able to go anywhere that I wanted. My parents even trusted me enough to drive all the way down to Cincinnati without adult supervision. When I decided to attend Central Michigan University, it was an hour and a half from home and it meant I would have the greatest freedom yet!

That freedom also came with responsibility. There were times when I questioned the freedom that I sought when I would have little money and things were just not going the way that I expected them to. The freedom that we often desire when we are younger is a false sense of freedom. It is only in Jesus Christ that we find true freedom that cannot be found elsewhere.

The Israelites think that they have it all made. They believe that everything is alright in their lives and that there is no where else they need to turn. They have not been held captive like their ancestors and all they have seen and encountered is freedom. Yes, their land may be under Roman rule, but they have been given the freedom to worship the way they choose. As long as they do not disturb those in authority. Thus, Jesus coming onto the scene is a big warning sign for them. His actions and words are starting to stir up the people and thus the freedom in which they thought they had. In truth, it is not a freedom that is anchored in the truth of God. Their sense of freedom does not reside in the truth of God, rather it resides in their own personal doing.

This was the same issue that Martin Luther had over 500 years ago now with the leaders of the church. They attempted to control everything and did not leave room for the truth that is Jesus Christ. They attempted to control grace when it was not theirs to control. They began to judge others when it was not in their right to judge.

While we think we may be free today, I am sure that you too at one point or another have been captive by some ill devised thought. We like to test the boundaries of our perceived freedom. We like to think that we are in control when really the only thing that we can control is our own personal actions. We make the decision to follow Christ and in the midst of that, there are always other distractions that attempt to steer us away from Christ. The sin that steers us away from Christ is evil. It distracts us and pulls us away from the word of God. It holds us captive in its grasp and yet, Jesus reminds us that he is present to release us from its grip.

Each and everyone of us are called to be in a relationship with Jesus Christ. Like our day to day relationships, we sometimes get out of line and make bad decisions. Despite our bad decisions, the word of God never leaves us. It is present for us to turn to in our time of need and be the foundation for us to rest in when our faith is troubled. It is in the power of the word that Martin Luther realized that we are justified by grace in our faith alone. While others may attempt to judge us, it is only in God that we must answer. While others may sometimes look at us differently, it is probably because we are following the word of Jesus Christ and walking in the way as his disciples.

As our faith grows in the word of God, we are led to freedom from the powers of sin and death. While it is in the powers of sin and death that enslave. We must learn to place our trust in our faith and the freedom found in the truth. For when we place our trust in sin, we are not free. Whenever we place our trust in death, we are not free. It is the truth that will set us free. That freedom was found in Jesus Christ for the disciples and is where we find our freedom today. It is not in our ability to move away from home. It is not in being able to decide whatever we want to do. It is in following Jesus and the way in which he is calling us to journey.

It was through Martin Luther’s revelation in the word, that he found a freedom that he had been missing. A freedom that had went on hiatus from the teaching of the church. In this revelation he saw the need to re-form the church. While Luther found this revelation in the letter to the Romans, a movement was started to bring the gospel of Jesus Christ to the people. A gospel message that is full of grace and mercy. A gospel message that gives us freedom like we could never experience in our earthly treasures, but only embrace in a truth that sets us free. The wonderful thing is that this freedom is not just for us. If it is true for us, it is true for all of humanity. Our God welcomes all of creation into relationship and the freedom that comes in knowing the truth found in Jesus Christ our Lord.

Let us pray. Ever re-forming God, you have created us, yet are far from finished in seeing us grow as disciples called to live out your word. May we be shaped by your truth so that we can embrace the freedom that can only be found in you. Amen.

A Review: Wounds Are Where Light Enters by Walter Wangerin, Jr.

Thanks to Englewood Review of Books for the advance copy and publishing this review.

61OirlERK-L._SX342_BO1,204,203,200_

Walter Wangerin Jr. has become one of the quintessential story tellers of this day and age. His stories break through the mundane and add a personal touch to everything that he shares. Whether his stories are based upon scripture or from his own personal collection reflecting upon his own experiences, he can connect with his readers and listeners as he offers the opportunity to enter the story as well.

In his newest collection of stories, Wangerin Jr. shares stories from his own family. Stories that helped shape him as a person of God. In these stories, the reader witnesses humanity. A humanity that resides in the ordinary. A humanity that resides in the sin and the brokenness of life. The stories are endearing and are a witness that Walter Wangerin Jr. is a human being just like anyone else. Too often, pastors are put upon pedestals in the eyes of their parishioners, forgetting that they too sin just like everyone else.

He makes it clear that each and everyone of us has a brokenness that leads to the wounds that share who we are as people of God. These wounds are exactly where we see the light of God breaking through. The subtitle of the book calls it God’s intrusive grace. A grace that breaks through when it is least expected. A grace that reminds us who we are and whose we are. The grace breaks through in every one of the twenty-two stories that are shared. The stories range from Wangerin Jr.’s childhood of dreading Christmas to stories he shares of his neighbors as he pastored a church in Evansville. Some of the most personal stories that he shares are the ones of his own children. Being a parent is a tough job, and through the stories that he shares, shows that he struggles just as much as any other parent.

One instance of God’s intrusive grace can be seen in his son, Joseph. It is in the wise words of Joseph that Wangerin Jr. is brought to the realization that he too can make mistakes and bring some of his frustrations from work, home to the dinner table. As he flicks the hand of his daughter Talitha, because she is fidgeting a little too much, she starts to cry. It is Joseph that highlights the wound and encourages the light to shine through. “Sometimes Daddy spanks us and we don’t mind. It doesn’t hurt. We laugh and have fun, because it’s a birthday spanking and he’s counting the years since we were born. He says, ‘A pinch to grow an inch.’” . . . “But when Daddy is angry, even a little flick hurts.”

It is these little insights into his life that Wangerin Jr. reveals a light that shines for all to see amid our personal wounds. While there is a sense that these stories have been collected over the past several decades, they still speak boldly today. They speak to our wounds and the wounds that we encounter in others.

Over the past year and a half, we have been reminded that race relations in our country are not what we thought they were. The story of his son Matthew, can break the readers heart. It is a story of hurt and a father’s love. When he was young, Matthew was friends with the neighbor girl. The only problem, is that in the neighbor’s eyes, “black and white do not marry.” The love that Wangerin Jr. shows for his son in this moment, is the same love that God shows for each and everyone of God’s children. A love that moves beyond race, nationality, or anything else that is used to separate one from the other. Unfortunately, there are still some people that have this opinion today. Matthew was not the perfect child. In another story it is shared that he had the tendency to steal comic books. It was Wangerin Jr.’s own response to his son’s thefts that actually made him stop. It was the sight and sound of his father crying that brought him to the realization that the theft of comic books must stop.

The stories that are shared within this quickly read volume can be life changing. Life changing for the author and for those that are in the story. The stories touch upon the reader’s heart and reveal the in-breaking of God in our own lives. We are all wounded in this life and some choose to dwell in the wounds and some choose to let the light break through for all to see. In sharing these personal stories of God’s love embracing humanity, Walter Wangerin Jr. once again reminds us that God is much greater than the wounds that scar.

This review is posted on Englewood Review of Books

A Review: A Course in Christian Mysticism by Thomas Merton, edited by Jon M. Sweeney

Thanks to Englewood Book Review for the advance copy and publishing this review.

41PW55rhH-L._SX322_BO1,204,203,200_

If you have never had the pleasure of visiting Gethsemani Abbey in Kentucky, I would recommend you take the time to do so. My visit to Gethsemani several years ago was one of my first true encounters with the work of Thomas Merton. Staying for a week at the Abbey allows one to hear Merton’s lectures during meal time. His voice coming through the speakers with an air of authority yet a playfulness that exudes an openness.

Jon Sweeney has done a wonderful job of compiling and editing some of Merton’s lectures into this thorough teaching on the early Christian mystics, providing the foundation for our practices that we have this present day. In this century, the interest in mysticism and spirituality has been on the rise as people are looking for deeper connections with God. Sweeney, bringing the lectures of Merton to life for all to easily access, provides a basis for an introduction to Christian mysticism while allowing the reader to make connections to the present.

Among his many jobs over the years at Gethsemani, Merton was a teacher and took pleasure in instructing novices and the other young monastics. These lectures came out of the need that he saw for reconnecting with the traditions of the early church. The lessons or lectures began in 1961. Merton wrote in his journal, “We have no memory. . .. The loss of tradition is an important factor in the loss of contemplation.” This is surely one reason why he wanted to deliver lectures on these topics to the young monastics (from prologue, xiii). Living in a community is not always easy, and it is through the eyes of Merton that the young monastics were encouraged to connect with the early Christian mystics and find their place in it all.

Thomas Merton, himself, is one of the leading Christian mystics of the last century. From his autobiography, Seven Storey Mountain to his books on Zen and the connection Christianity has with Buddhism, Merton brings a well deep in mysticism that has not quite been seen to the same degree since his early death in 1968.

In his first lecture, he sets out the aim for the course and the importance of connecting with one’s tradition. As he witnessed the young monastics moving away from their knowledge of the tradition, we too can see that same loss today. Many Protestant churches express an uneasiness when it comes to connecting with the early mystical traditions of the early church fathers and mothers. The mystery of the church has lost its intrigue for many and they want to be told specifically what to think, say, and do. Merton acknowledged this concern within the Catholic church throughout his life and desired for people to seek out the mystical traditions that helped shape and form the early church. He says in the first lecture, “We must become fully impregnated in our mystical tradition. The mystical tradition of the Church is a collective memory and experience of Christ living and present within her” (pg. 10).

As Merton journey’s back to the first mystics, his writing can become a bit heady if you do not have a basic understanding of Christian history. He does a fairly good job at trying to explain himself, yet one may have to slow down a little to fully take it all in. The early martyrs and Gnostics, specifically Ignatius, Irenaeus, Clement, and Origen, all have a place within the foundation of Christian Mysticism and while some of their practices and beliefs may have been corrected overtime, their influences are still felt to this day. In Martyrdom, Merton emphasizes that it helps one die to their own selves as they commit themselves to the way of Jesus Christ.

He points to many of these early martyrs and Gnostics as the source of Christian mystical thought and the beginning of true contemplation as we have come to know it today. He goes into a deeper discussion on the Cappadocian Fathers. He makes a connection with gnosis and the first thoughts of contemplation as he speaks of St. Ignatius.  The ascent to God is viewed through the sharing of the writings of St. Gregory of Nyssa and many of the mystics throughout the centuries have taken aspects of St. Gregory of Nyssa’s explanation on mysticism and the ascent of the soul to abide in God.

Merton also brings Evagrius Pontus into the discussion as “one of the most important, the least known, the most neglected, and the most controversial of Christian mystics” (pg. 57).  Merton continues his journey through time as he teaches upon St. Bernard of Clairvaux, the Beguines, Eckhart, St. Teresa of Avila, St. John of the Cross and many more.

These in-depth lectures over the course of three years are brought to life through the editing of Sweeney, so that the reader can feel as though they are right in the room with Merton instructing them and leading the discussion. The addition to pointing out additional resources and a study guide makes this a wonderful resource for group discussion. This is not the first time that these lectures have been in print, however, Sweeney edits them all into one collection and with his additions, he has created a resource that should be a part of anyone’s collection that is interested in learning more about Christian mysticism.

I Believe that I Cannot Believe

apostles-creed

March 12, 2017

John 3:1-17

Have you ever wondered what it would be like living in a different time and place? Perhaps thinking that you may get away from some of the terror and fear we experience today. In reality though, the sin that occurs today is no greater than the sin that has occurred throughout the history of the world.

Imagine what it would be like living in Germany back in 1529 when Martin Luther published the Small catechism. There was tyranny and discomfort then, just as there is today around the world. We would have had little clue of what was happening within the church because we would not have known Latin. We may have a real basic understanding, but that may even be a stretch. This is what Martin Luther encountered as he visited churches throughout the country. The thing is, it just was not the lay people that had no clue, it was many of the priests and pastors as well. Out of these observations, a desire built within him to teach the faith to the lay people as well as the teachers themselves. The Small Catechism was published to be used in the house for both parents to learn from and to teach their children. The Large Catechism, which goes into greater depth on each chief part, was published to teach pastors.

As we heard last week, the Ten commandments as Moses presents them from God are what points to our sin in the world. As our confession points out, we are captive to sin and cannot free ourselves. The law points to our sin and the gospel of Jesus Christ is what saves us.

It is in this that we confess our faith. This faith is confessed in a creed that is over eighteen hundred years old. The Apostles Creed as we know it today was first put together in Rome around the year 150. At that time, it was known as the “symbol of faith,” and would be mostly used at the time of baptisms. The Nicene Creed as we recite it was established in the year 325 to help combat heresies that were occurring throughout the church.

Our creeds are the confession of our faith and regardless of which one we speak on Sunday, we join with our sisters and brothers around the world that confess the same faith. This community of believers is what constitutes the Christian church in the world today. The creeds are divided into three parts. Sound a little familiar? Possibly like the Trinity!

I believe in God, the Father Almighty,

Creator of heaven and earth.

 

In the first article, we declare our faith in God the creator. A God that has made the heaven and the earth. A God that is still creating. In Luther’s response to the first article in the Large Catechism, he writes, “This article would humble and terrify us all, if we believed it!” The realization that we as human beings, are the creatures, and not the creators comes with quite a burden. The spirit-filled grace that God has bestowed upon us is a wonderful and terrifying thing when we take into account the ways that we have harmed creation. In this first article, we should be compelled to care for creation as it has been gifted to us.

Not only has God gifted to us once, God continues to gift us the things that we need on a daily basis. From the Small Catechism, “God daily and abundantly provides shoes and clothing, food and drink, house and farm, spouse and children, fields, livestock, and all property.” God gives freely without any merit or worthiness of our own! Everything that we have comes from the creator God.

I believe in Jesus Christ, God’s only Son, our Lord

who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the virgin Mary,

suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried;

he descended to the dead. On the third day he rose again;

he ascended into heaven, he is seated at the right hand of the Father,

and he will come to judge the living and the dead.

 

What does it mean to be Lord? Traditionally, a Lord was someone that has authority over the people and land of a given territory either by appointment or inheritance.  Jesus has come to turn that definition on its head. We call Jesus Lord, because he has come to defeat sin and death. In this we are freed and able to experience eternal life. In this we encounter the gospel for the first time in Martin Luther’s Small Catechism. Timothy Wengert says, “the whole gospel is summarized in the [second article]. For the gospel is nothing other than the preaching of conception, birth, etc. of Christ.” Because of this we learn that Jesus Christ is “Our Lord.”

I believe in the Holy Spirit,

the holy catholic church,

the communion of saints,

the forgiveness of sins,

the resurrection of the body,

and the life everlasting. Amen.

 

“I believe that I cannot believe!” The third article of the creed reminds us of what we cannot do on our own. Luther’s answer to what does this mean in the third article is, “I believe that by my own understanding or strength I cannot believe in Jesus Christ my Lord or come to him, but instead the Holy Spirit has called me through the gospel.”

While the liturgy of baptism is familiar to many of us, “I baptize you in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit,” Luther turns the order around. We would never come to know God, the Father, if not for Jesus Christ. We could not know Christ if it wasn’t for the Holy Spirit. It is the Holy Spirit that leads us to Christ in the first place and it is through Christ that we come to know the Father. While the Holy Spirit is the one part of the Trinity that we seem to talk about least in the Lutheran church, it is the one that leads us to our faith. “I believe that I cannot believe.” Our faith is rooted in the work of the Holy Spirit.

In the creeds, we confess the faith that was given to us by the Holy Spirit. Without it, the words of John’s gospel would be meaningless. “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life. Indeed, God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.” Amen.

Living in the Mystery

fb-share-img

It has been quite a while since I read The Shack  by Wm. Paul Young. I recall being touched by it when I first read it, and was kind of excited to find out that it was being made into a movie.

I am not going to say that either the movie or the book is the answer to many theological questions. I do believe that it has the power to relate the Trinity to people in a way that they may be able to understand. Quite often we will try to equate the Trinity to different things in our lives that come in threes; such as ice, water, steam. These analogies quite often fall flat. How can we have relationship with ice, water, and steam, or any other analogy that we may make up in our mind.

The personification of the Trinity is wonderful, as God is portrayed as a woman mostly, and a man at one time. Jesus is a relatable loving character, and the Holy Spirit is represented by a woman that seems to radiate God’s love in all she does. Together, the great I Am.

The Shack takes us on a journey of whom God could be. Does it say that this truly is without a doubt who God is? No, it does not. One line in the movie from Papa (God), is “I am who you need me to be right now.” God is present with us in everything, and may just perhaps be with us in the form that we need most at the present time. If we need a little tough love, then God is there to give it. If we need to be loved unconditionally, then God is there with love that overflows.

The question of theodicy (why does God let bad things happen) is discussed, and within a right frame of mind. God does not allow the bad things to happen. We live in a world that is full of sin and evil happens whether we want it to or not. God is present with us and weeping with us the same time that we are.

Forgiveness is a major theme of the movie and book as Mack encounters the evils of his past as well as the evil of his present as he learns to live with the death of his youngest daughter. To forgive is Christian and if more people would learn to do so, the world would be a much better place. If we would not be so quick to react, and more patient to forgive, love would grow and the gospel would be proclaimed.

Be on the lookout for other themes in the movie as well. From resurrection, to baptism, and communion. Who wouldn’t want to sit around the table having a meal with the Trinity?

I believe that it is truly worth the two and a half hours to sit in the theater and watch this incredible movie. Better yet, invite some friends to join you so that you can have a great conversation afterwards.

Faith the Size of a Mustard Seed

2015_1025_lop_mustard_seed

Luke 17:5-10

One of the things that I truly enjoy in this calling as your pastor is the ability to sit down and get to know you. I learn of those activities and passions that keep you moving throughout the week. As I have the opportunity to sit down and talk with many of our families, I am amazed at the number of activities that keep them moving throughout the week.

In the midst of this comes struggles that are at times unexpected and at other times brought on by our own doing. We are always looking for the next best thing to give us a leg up. We want to be more efficient. We want to be able to do everything quicker so that we can move on to the next task on our list. We want to be able to say that we are successful and have accomplished something for the day. In the midst of it all we strive for more and more so that we can get by. The truth is that we have already been given everything we need. We have enough!

Don’t think you are the first one to be bombarded with activities. Jesus’ disciples felt the crunch around them as well. They don’t think that they have enough to help them accomplish everything in front of them. In our lesson this morning, they are asking Jesus to increase their faith. They are overwhelmed by this whirlwind tour Jesus has invited them on. Not only are the expectations Jesus sets out shocking to them at times, they are also left trying to figure out what he is saying in his many parables. Jesus has asked them to give away all of their possessions. He has told them countless times that they are going to have to take up their own cross. Jesus has instructed them to forgive the people who have wronged them.

Jesus is all about forgiving. It is his instructions to the disciples to forgive those who have sinned against them that finally provoked the request in this mornings lesson (17:1-4). Surely having more faith will help see them through everything that Jesus has called them to. In their own anxiety, they are feeling inadequate for the job at hand and if Jesus would simply increase their faith, their anxiety could be put at ease. The thing is, they already have faith enough to do those things they ought to do.

Their hope of increased faith is not going to get them anywhere faster. The faith that they have within them is already enough. Their faith is enough for the present moment and will see them through their calling. The faith of the people in Luke’s Gospel that Jesus encounters and heals is an example for us. Their faith is just enough and they trust in this. This faith may be found in the most unexpected places and people. The centurion who has enough faith that his servant will be healed, and Jesus does so from a distance (7:9). The woman, a sinner living in the city, who anointed Jesus’ feet with her tears and ointment is saved by her faith in the Son of God (7:50). The woman who had to reach out and just touch the fringe of Jesus’ robe was healed from her twelve years of bleeding (8:48). And Jesus will continue in his healing as he encounters people with faith that is perhaps just the size of a mustard seed.

It is not a question of if the disciples have faith. For what they have already is enough. It was their faith that got them to drop everything they were doing and follow Jesus. It was their faith that pushed them to stay with him throughout all of the struggles and challenges that came to them as they were mocked and ridiculed. It was their faith in Jesus that brought them hope.

Faith within the church is alive and well. It is our faith that calls us into action. It is our faith that calls us to reach out to those in need and to provide and to lift up the least of these. Our faith can be witnessed in many forms. It is here this morning in our worship, as your faith brought you here. It is in those that are serving and preparing sticky buns to raise funds for our mission team. It is in our teenagers that are preparing to be confirmed next Sunday.

The awesome thing is that we have just enough faith to do those things that ought to be done. We do not need anymore when all of our faith can be found in Jesus Christ. As we learn to trust him as he guides us, our faith is nurtured and we experience the grace God has given freely to each and every one of us.

“Faith is hopeful, trusting, strong even in weakness, surprising and cheerfully active – not because of our belief, but because of the One we believe in, and that, indeed is Good News.” (1)

 

(1) Margit Ernst-Habib, from Feasting on the Word Year C, Volume 4