Sunday, October 6, 2013

Faith…and Forgiveness

          Jesus said if our faith was no bigger than a poppy seed we could tell a mulberry tree to “Go jump in the lake.” That’s not very big. If you’d drop a poppy seed in the carpet you couldn’t find it without a vacuum cleaner. Faith, no bigger than a poppy seed, Jesus said.
          What does that say about our faith? I know, it’s meant to be a metaphor, but is that what Jesus meant? What if he meant it? What if our faith was no bigger than a poppy seed? Could we move trees or mountains or governments? I haven’t moved anything that big lately, so does that mean that my faith isn’t big enough?
          It could be that Jesus wanted his disciples to understand the power that’s contained inside just one infinitesimal seed. The seed doesn’t look very powerful and yet…when it’s buried in the soil and tended with water and nutrients it can grow into a tree 60-80 feet tall.
          Some folks are planting radishes in their fields this fall as a cover crop. Radish seed isn’t very big and yet it will grow a root 12-24 inches long and bring up micronutrients that will benefit the next crop planted. All that from little, tiny seeds barely covered with dirt…and all they needed was a little rain to help them germinate.
          The disciples came to Jesus after hearing him tell them that even if their friend sinned against them 7 times they should continue to forgive them.  They were to forgive their friend even if they thought he wasn’t being truthful. If he said that he wouldn’t do whatever he’d done again…and then did, they were to forgive them…again.
          That sounded impossible to them and so they asked for more faith. Jesus refused to give them more faith. He said they had enough. He said they had just the right amount.
          Faith, five letters, one small word and yet we’re not sure we have enough. We want more or we want a stronger faith. But Jesus says, “You don’t need more or less. You have just enough.” Really? Why doesn’t it feel like it? 
          I believe, then why can’t Aunt Jane’s cancer be cured? Why can’t our political leaders agree on bipartisan legislation that will bring peace to our nation? Why are there shootings every day in our cities? I believe in the power of Jesus. I believe in God. What am I missing?  Do you have the same questions?
          I’ve been a farmer. Every year Linda and I put seeds and plants in the ground trusting that they’ll grow and produce something good for us to eat. We have faith that what we plant will grow into what is pictured on the seed packet. Why do we keep planting seeds? We plant seeds because we’ve had some measure of success in our garden. We’ve had failures too but not so many that we want to stop planting seeds.
          So, what kind of seeds of faith are we going to plant? Every Sunday I ask you to pray for peace. Will we ever see a peaceful world? I believe one day we will. My hope is that we will someday have peace. That’s why I keep praying, and asking others to pray for peace.
          If we want a world that is peaceful, compassionate, just, loving and filled with resources enough for everyone, what kind of seeds do we need to plant?
          My friends, I believe with all my heart that it begins with every one of us. It begins with us speaking words, powerful words of peace, love, justice, compassion, words that will produce more words, kind words, just words that will flower and grow bigger than the biggest maple. Words filled with truth, God’s truth. Words filled with love, God’s love.
          Words aren’t very big. They don’t look very powerful on paper. If that’s true why do we continue to use them? I contend that we use them because they are powerful and we know it.
          We’ve seen how words can wound. We’ve seen how words can bring tears of joy to people’s eyes. We’ve seen how words can make Wall Street tremble and shake and stock prices tumble.
          So, why not believe that words, simple, truthful words can bring peace and joy and love and justice to a hurting world? What prevents us from testing this theory?
          Surely we have faith in Jesus’ words otherwise why do we come here to worship? Surely we don’t just come to visit our friends. We can do that at McDonald’s or Roberts’. 
          Maybe our prayers should be, “God give us more faith, faith that can learn from Jesus’ stories, faith that can question and wait patiently for answers. God give us faith to will lead us to act and to share our wealth with those who have nothing. God give us more faith in you and in our friends who are praying just like us. God give us faith and bless us so we can go out this week and tell your story of love and peace and grace.”
           Friends, we have just enough faith. Jesus said so. You had the faith to come here to worship. You have the faith go back into the world. Trust God’s grace and lean on his Word, Jesus the Christ. Thanks be to God for his faith-filled grace. Amen.

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