17 Pentecost Proper 22 Yr C Oct 6 2019
Audio 17 Pentecost Proper 22 Yr C Oct 6 2019
Habakkuk 1:1-4, 2:1-4, Psalm 37:1-10, 2 Timothy 1:1-14, Luke 17:5-10
How much is enough? We work our whole lives to have enough. Enough money to retire, enough house to live in, enough toys in our garage, or our lake place, or our vacation place. Can we ever have enough? When we lived in Rapid City, we knew a person who we perceived to have a lot. A large house with a great view, cars that were very nice, a vacation home in Montana, and the ability to give abundantly. Sometimes Willie and I wondered what that would be like. We wondered what it would be like to just be able to buy, without choosing between this one or that one, we could have both. We wondered what it would be like to not have to stick to a budget at the grocery store, just buy whatever we wanted. We wondered what it would be like to always stay in a fabulous hotel, and while on vacation to do whatever we wanted, never having to say no because we just don’t have the money. What would it be like to have enough to do it all?
How much faith is enough? Eugene Peterson, in his translation of the bible, The Message writes, “The apostles came up and said to the Master, “Give us more faith.” But the Master said, “You don’t need more faith. There is no ‘more’ or ‘less’ in faith. If you have a bare kernel of faith, say the size of a poppy seed, you could say to this sycamore tree, ‘Go jump in the lake,’ and it would do it.”
I think this story from Luke is about God's absolute and abundant faith in us. I think it is about faith, and faith is not a quantity to be measured, or thing to be possessed, or something to be consumed. This story is not about how much faith you have at all, the story we embody, the story we enact, the story of Love, is the story of God's faith in us.
You see, our relationship with God is never about us at all, so it can’t be about how much faith you or I have. Our relationship with God is about God's faith in us. And God does have faith in us, that is shown in the pattern of the sacred story. God creates and blesses all of creation, but creation turns away from God and we wander in the wilderness, God calls us back into relationship and comes into our lives in a real and incarnational way, in flesh and blood, there is forgiveness and reconciliation and transformation.
We know the truth of this relationship in the reality of death and resurrection. God accompanies us through the pain and the suffering and the joy of this life. Jesus is God in the flesh, and walks this journey with us, Jesus suffers through pain, hangs on a cross, and through Jesus God shows humanity what new life looks like. Jesus is broken, and wholeness looks nothing like life before death. It is all about death and resurrection. Talk about faith, God has faith in us.
I don't get up in the morning and ask God for more faith, I get up in the morning and know that because God has faith in me, that God is faithful, I can do the work God calls me to do. Sometimes I wonder where God is, sometimes I wonder what God is up to because I sure can't figure out the plan, but that doesn't change God's faith in me. With that, some semblance of faith returns. And that faith looks a lot like love. Love as an act of the will, love as mercy and compassion, love as justice and peace. Lord, help me to be your love in my part of the world today, Lord, help me to treat each person whose path I cross with mercy and compassion, is my prayer. Lord, help me to get on board with what you are already accomplishing in the world today. Lord, you have faith in me, help me to have faith in myself.
Faith is not about having enough, faith is about asking questions, not about having all the answers. Faith is big enough and important enough to be able to embrace all of our doubt. And faith is never about being perfect, but about being perfectly loved.
We live in a broken world, most of us are broken, and Jesus, in flesh and blood, in the bread and the wine, seeps into our very being and heals us, we are made whole in the bread and the wine. We are made whole by the love that is shown forth in this community, love that is Jesus in our midst. Jesus prepares supper for us, Jesus invites us to the table for food and drink, Jesus gives Jesus' very self so that we may be put back together, we are re-membered in a meal, in a community, that is Jesus' body. This is faith.
Friends, we’ve got all we need to be faithful. We’ve got a God who loves us so very much. Faith is an adventure. Faith is putting one foot in front of the other and walking toward a future we do not see yet but trust God is fashioning. Faith is heading out the door each day looking for opportunities to be God’s partner and co-worker in the world. Faith is imagining that the various challenges put in front of us -- whether solving a problem at work or forgiving someone who hurt us, -- are actually opportunities that invite us to grow as followers of Jesus and witness to God’s presence and goodness in the world.
Being faithful, finally, is about recognizing all the God-given opportunities just to show up and do what needs to be done: doing our work, caring for those in need, protecting the vulnerable, reaching out to the lonely, befriending the friendless, keeping the world going, contributing to the common good, changing the world. Amen.