When we hear
this kind of saying from Jesus, that if we have enough faith we can move trees
or mountains, we say, hmm, not me. I don’t have that kind of faith! But I am
willing to guess that you all have at least some faith, at least a mustard seed’s
worth of faith. In fact, Jesus says that if you have even that little amount of
faith, you can work miracles in his name.
Since Holy Spirit plants faith in us, we do actually have
enough faith. It may be courage we are lacking, or trust that Jesus God will provide
what we need. Jesus says in this parable that contrary to our fears, we have
more than enough faith to do whatever it takes.
We probably would not ask God to move a tree, or a mountain
as the same story in Matthew suggests. But we have faith enough, and more, to work
to fulfill God’s purposes. As a congregation, we talked a couple weeks ago
about service to the community. Each table at the Visioning Retreat came up
with suggestions about how to reach more people, more neighbors, with the good
news of Jesus Christ, risen, who loves and forgives us.
What, exactly, should we be doing? The Council and the Outreach
Committee will work to choose a few, maybe only one or two, things to focus on,
to put lots of energy into. Working on these service projects will require
energy and commitment.
And it will require faith that we can do it. Rather
than saying, we’re too small, we can’t do that; rather than saying, I’m too old,
I can’t do that; rather than saying, been there, done that, not gonna do it
anymore … it will mean we all begin to say, yes, we can, with God’s help. When we
make up our minds together to do something, we will be given the ability, the
finances, and the faith to make it happen.
In the meantime, let’s think about those things you know
you already have faith enough to do.
I’ll bet that the first time you went to visit someone, to
take communion to her or him, that you were afraid. But you went anyway, and God
spoke through you to give comfort to the person you visited. At the same
time, God spoke to you, to assure you that you could do this visit, that
you had faith enough for this ministry. And
then you discovered it was enjoyable to bring Jesus to others in this way.
I’ll also bet
that the first time you read the Scripture or assisted with communion or any of
the dozens of things connected with worship, that you were a bit worried that
you would mess up. You may have worried about pronunciation of strange names,
or putting things in the wrong place, or forgetting to hand someone a bulletin.
But, over time, you figured out that you do have faith enough to assist
in some ways with worship, that if you do something wrong, there is grace
enough to cover your mistake. And you have learned that you do have faith
enough to assist with worship and more.
Giving generously, or as I have been saying recently,
giving with fearless generosity, takes faith. It used to be that putting a dollar
or two or five or ten in the offering plate each week kept the church running
well. But that’s no longer true. It takes tens and twenties and fifties and
hundreds each week to keep the church running.
One of my heroes is Rasma. She and her sister Lydia came
from Latvia, escaping just before the Russians invaded in 1945. Lydia’s son had
been gifted, but he was mugged and suffered a brain injury, so he was not able
to work much.
I don’t know everything about their finances, but I know
they lived together in a little house not far from the church. Rasma worked multiple
jobs with small salaries for decades to keep them all fed and clothed and sheltered.
Rasma baked daily. Strudel. Raisin bread. Cheese sticks. She
made apple slices on a crust when someone gave them apples. And she gave it away.
She brought it to Choir practice each week. She brought it to church on Sunday.
She probably gave to her neighbors as well. Now, I was also told she left the
baking mess for Lydia to clean up, which I’m sure made for some tension in the
Before I went to seminary, I was on one of the teams that
counted the offering. So, I know that her offering to the church was a few
dollars each week, tucked in the weekly envelopes. Sometimes the envelope was
not there one week, but it was included the next week, to keep her offering
current with her pledge. Rasma had faith enough to be fearlessly generous.
Our culture today seems to be filled with hatred. It has become
popular to voice our distrust of those who differ from us. We pick on their
political party, their religion, or their lack of religion. We disdain their
country of origin or their skin color. We criticize the way they dress or style
their hair. And so on. We forget that all of creation, therefore all people on earth,
are made by the same Creator, the same God.
What can we, should we, do about this atmosphere of hatred?
It certainly isn’t what God planned for us. It certainly isn’t what Jesus
taught us when he reached out to the lepers, the tax collectors, or the foreigners!
Can we summon faith enough to be different from our peers and remind ourselves
and others that God loves us, all of us!? Can we speak out and say that we are
called by Jesus to love others as we love ourselves?
We have faith
enough to forgive! This image of Brandt Jean hugging Amber Guyger has gone
viral – it has been seen all over the internet and on TV. Amber has just been
found guilty of killing Botham Jean. Brandt is Botham’s brother and he wanted
to hug Amber and tell her he forgave her. While it may take Amber a long time
to forgive herself, she knows from this moment that she is forgiven by the family
of the man she killed, whether it was intentional or accidental. I pray that
she will find the faith to know she is forgiven and to forgive herself.
In our human sense of justice, forgiveness sometimes feels
all wrong. We want punishment for those who hurt us, we want to hold onto our
anger and resentment. But forgiveness is not about the person who harmed us. It
is for our own heart. The refusal to forgive eats away at our insides and prevents
us from having faith that God is at work in our lives and in the life of
those who hurt us. If we trust in God, we can find faith enough to forgive and
to remember that we are forgiven.
This quote from
Martin Luther speaks to his level of faith. “Even if I knew that tomorrow the
world would go to pieces, I would still plant my apple tree.” Luther had faith
enough to believe that even if the world went to pieces, God would still be
active in putting it back together. Even though the US seems to be falling
apart, on the brink of disaster, we can have faith that God is in charge.
Lastly, you have faith enough. Holy Spirit has given it to
you to use. God put you here to be God’s hands and feet in the places where you
live and play and worship and serve. Even if you believe that your faith is as small
as a mustard seed, you can still accomplish wonders in Jesus’ name.
This image is a mustard seed on the tip of a finger. The
quote says, “I have a mustard seed and I’m not afraid to use it.”
Let’s say this together. “I have a mustard seed and I’m not
afraid to use it.”