October 6, 2013 by Ken Dale
Had the Apostle Paul been born in a different time, perhaps, he could be credited with that phrase ?it takes a village.?? He speaks of the life of faith ? writing to Timothy, reminded of Timothy?s faith, a sincere faith, that first lived in his grandmother Lois and his mother Eunice.? He encourages Timothy to rekindle his faith ? that ?gift of God that is within you.??? And in the gospel Jesus again lifts that image of the mustard seed.? His response is to the disciples who have requested, ?Increase our faith.?? How do we hear that response ? with what tone of voice does Jesus speak?
Here, like in the story of Peter and his attempt to walk on water, perhaps we hear a condescending tone.? Remember in that story when Peter begins going down Jesus says, ?O you of little faith??? I don?t know about you but I always heard it as a bit of a put down.? But then a few years ago I read of the possibility of hearing it a bit more upbeat.? Until he doubted, Peter was walking on water ? but then he began to sink.? It?s possible what Jesus said was more in the tone of ?look at you ? you did it, yes you doubted and began to sink ? but before that, even with your little faith ? you did it!?? Can we hear the same with mustard seed image before us this morning?? Jesus saying ?If you had faith the size of a mustard seed?? — and his fingers would be pinched together like this ? ?If you had only this much faith ? you could say to this mulberry tree ? ?be uprooted and planted in the sea ? and it would obey you.??? If we hear it in that tone there is no guilt, no shame, no put down — just an encouraging and maybe even empowering word.? And he?s sort of saying don?t ask for an increase in faith ? don?t ask for more faith ? you?ve already got the faith you need!? Big things can happen from small things.? But we need to be open to see God at work in them ? to discern God?s presence and guidance in those actions.
I have a fond memory that came to me Friday morning. ??About nine years ago as I was preparing to move here, I had an appointment at a bank in Augusta to find out about mortgages.? After living in a church parsonage for 26 years I was, at the age of 52, buying my first house.? It was a bit overwhelming knowing I was going into that much debt.? As I made my way to the door of the bank I came up behind an elderly man with snow white hair, very slowly making his way to the door with papers in hand.? I stepped around him and held the door for him.? He looked up as he passed by and said, ?I?m sorry I?m moving so slow.?? ?No problem,? I said with a smile, ?my day will come.?? And then I had the thought, that would be me someday, making my way to the door to make my last house payment!? But as I carried that image it became one of hope and promise.? It was just a simple encounter ? but it was also a huge blessing!
No doubt you?ve heard of ?Guerilla Warfare? — have you ever heard of ?Guerilla Compassion??? Guerilla Compassion occurs when we make mustard seed sized acts of love and kindness that may very well make a huge difference in someone?s life.? It is silently blessing people ? in line at the bank, at the supermarket, as we drive our cars around town — and all to an unsuspecting world ? random acts of kindness, thoughtfulness, consideration, little things that express care and concern and healing and new life.? Sometimes it even happens in and through us and we are totally unaware.? But sometimes it is intentional on our part.? Little things that could make a big difference in the lives of others.? Each blessing a tiny Sabbath ? a secret sanctuary offered to an unsuspecting world.? A plate of cookies, a loaf of bread, a note expressing concern or a little prayer offered on behalf of someone else ? letting someone ahead of you in line for some good reason ? or no good reason at all.? All mustard seed faith.
And back to the village!? The community of faith is the seedbed ? the seedbed for faith ? for children and for folks new to the church ? for young and old and in between ? for long time members and those brand new to the faith or still seeking — and for those who are different, which of course includes us all.? On this World Communion Sunday may we be mindful of our connection ? here and beyond.? What we do locally is part of what is happening globally.? We are part of the Body of Christ.? Our Guerilla Compassion is part of the work of God in Christ in this world ? we are the hands and feet of God?s love.? Our behavior ? our acts of kindness and love however great or small ? all that we do in the name of peace are all part of that which rises up against the evil and terrorism and all that is not right with the world in which we live.
Got Faith?? Yes ? as a matter of fact you do ? and you only need this much!