As we studied the parable of Lazarus and the Rich Man, we learned that disciples understand that our well-being is linked to the well-being of others. The neighbor’s – OUR neighbor’s – needs are our needs. We are called to be responsive to those needs. We are called to reach out, care for and love our neighbors.
Here at Resurrection Lutheran Church this is part of our mission statement: Reaching. Loving. Caring.
We looked at a dollar bill – in God we trust — think about what is written on it.
“In God we trust…” Is that really true? Do we trust in God? Do we take to heart God’s calling of us to have compassion on our neighbors? Are we able to see God’s face on the face of our neighbor’s need?
And this week – think about what you will do with that dollar. How will you spend it? Is that something easy to figure out? difficult?
Does it reflect our trust in God? Our faith? Do our choices make a difference in the wellbeing of others? Are we passing our faith on?
Keeping the faith is hard…passing it on is even harder.
The disciples were finding that to be true as well. They are walking with Jesus to Jerusalem and the walk is getting more challenging because the talk is getting more challenging.
In fact, it’s downright scary to the disciples. And us.
Jesus says we will stumble – that time is coming. Even worse, cause someone to stumble, especially someone new in the faith? Tie a millstone around your neck and jump in the deep end of the lake.
Be on guard – see a sinner, rebuke a sinner however, if they ask for forgiveness? Give it to them.
Even if they sin seven times a day every day and seven times a day every day they repent, then you forgive seven times a day every day.
It is at this point the disciples begin think, “we can’t do this! We will never be able to do this…” Doubt comes flooding in and they run to Jesus and say, “Increase our faith…we don’t have enough, it’s not going to be enough, add to what we have.”
In other words, Jesus we don’t have enough faith to handle all of this forgiving and anything else that is coming our way. We just can’t do this. We are not enough.
As we careen towards yet another election, I’m concerned that I won’t have enough either. It doesn’t matter what year. It doesn’t matter who the candidates are. Less than a month away from the election…I’m ready to scream, “God, just make it stop!” In the midst of all of this I’m supposed to have faith.
I begin repeating my mantra. God says “fear not” 365 times, one for each day…do not be afraid…
A plea falls from my lips…please help me believe this.
And the same plea of the disciples falls from our lips, too: Jesus, increase our faith…we just can’t do this…we don’t have enough… it’s not going to be enough, add to what we have. We’re. not. Enough.
Fear has crept in again… It is fear that is opposite of faith.
Perhaps this request surprises Jesus a bit. Perhaps he’s taken aback by both the disciples and us.
“But you do have faith!” Jesus says. It might be the size of this tiny mustard seed but you do have faith. And it is enough. And you are enough.
The original Greek isn’t always the easiest to translate and convey meaning into English, but there is a conditional clause there. Scholars dispute just how to translate it. In our text we have one version. But here’s another. …if you had the faith of a mustard seed…and you do! And. You. Do.
Jesus says. “You do have faith! It might be the size of this tiny mustard seed but you do have faith. And it is enough. It is strong enough.
Mustard wasn’t a welcome addition to any Jewish garden. It was considered a weed, useless and even forbidden to plant – but prolific just the same. So you would find these weeds outside of the acceptable 1st century garden gate.
Look at whom Jesus commends for having faith –those outside of the “acceptable” garden gate of the time – a Roman centurion concerned about a sick servant, a diseased woman who knows that just a touch will heal her.
Looking ahead in Luke, a leper will turn back to give thanks and a blind beggar will receive sight. Again all people who would have been found outside of the “acceptable” gate.
Faith doesn’t have to huge or flashy or prominent. It just has to be.
This is the kind of faith that Jesus is saying is enough, it will get us through. We will be OK. From a tiny seed, great things will happen. Just like the mustard, our faith can and will grow with wild abandon and it will be wonderful.
And here’s why it’s enough.
Jesus talks about a servant who does what is expected of him, just going about his job and not expecting any great rewards for doing.
The servant is simply doing what has to be done, the mundane work that is right in front of him. The ordinary, everyday tasks of being a servant. Getting the job done and Just doing it.
Faith isn’t a commodity that can be added to, saved, spent. Faith is not something heroic and God certainly isn’t going to give us a greater reward when we see God face to face.
Our invitation to the table – whether you are high on the mountain top of faith, or low in the valley of faith or whether you doubt you have no faith at all…come to the Christ’s table.
You are enough for God. You are faithful enough for Christ.
Faith is found in the mundane, in the doing of what needs to be done. That is what Jesus is saying is faithful. And this is what passes faith along.
Going to work and doing a good job.
Listening when someone needs to talk.
Packing the kids’ lunches for school and getting them to the bus on time.
Sitting with someone at lunch who looks like they could use a friend.
Praying with a friend who is having a hard time.
Cooking breakfast this morning. Feeding the dog. Making breakfast.
Letting someone in front of you on the highway.
Writing a letter of thanks.
The things that we did for God’s work our hands – make personal care kits or trimming bushes and planting mums and bulbs at the local elementary school – didn’t seem like much but they were done in faith.
Make your own list.
None of these things seem like a big deal and yet they fill our lives.
These are indeed acts of faith.
And what if, tomorrow, you didn’t do any of this stuff, and the next day, and the next day… What might the world look like?
Bleak to say the least.
This week there will be more gun violence, there will be hatred, there will be more computer hackings, there will be more of this contentious election.
And yet among all of this there will be signs of hope. Because God will continue to love and care for this world – using our hands, and hearts and voices, and time, and treasure and talents.
God will use all those mundane, simple, ordinary, everyday tasks that we do to help spread that love and hope and grace and joy in this world.
So you might think that you are not enough, but Jesus thinks that you are enough. You do have faith and at the end of our days it will be Jesus that will be saying to us,
Well done, good and faithful servant, well done.
Keep the faith and pass it on.