Give Us More Faith
October 2, 2016
On a scale of 1-10,
how much faith do you have?
Collectively I guess we’d run the gamut…
Some of us here might say we have an 8 or a 9:
we’re trusting God;
we’re confident in God’s plan for us and the world,
fearless for the future,
grateful for the present.
But that’s probably not many of us.
I’d guess that most of us feel closer to the other end of the scale…
a 2 or a 3 …
or maybe it seems like we’ve lost faith altogether.
Hey, if it could happen to Mother Teresa,
it can happen to any of us.
For 50 years Mother Teresa struggled
with the absence of faith.
As a young woman she experienced God’s call in striking visions
which told her to leave home and come to Calcutta to work with the poor and dying.
Her superiors were skeptical,
but she was so certain that this is what God had as a plan for her,
that she persisted and went anyway.
But soon afterwards,
in the midst of the work she was doing,
for years, she wrote things like this to her spiritual advisor:
“Jesus has a very special love for you. [But] as for me–The silence and the emptiness is so great–that I look and do not see,–Listen and do not hear.”[i]
In her letters she described the dryness and the darkness of her faith,
at times questioning the very existence of God.
This is Saint Mother Teresa.
“Give me more faith!” was Mother Teresa’s prayer for half a century.
“Give us more faith!” the disciples plead to Jesus.
And Jesus says – you have enough.
I think the disciples must be thinking to themselves….how does he know?
Does he really know what keeps us up at night?
We don’t care about mulberry trees…
We just want to have that feeling back again that we’re doing the right thing.
That we’re not wasting our time here…
Give us more faith!
I suppose what they want is some certainty…
some help in believing some of the things Jesus taught they find hard to swallow.
And isn’t that a struggle most of us have?
There are things Jesus taught, there are some things in our Scripture that are really hard to swallow!
But in the gospel of Luke, faith isn’t a head thing at all – it’s not believing/understanding…
it’s embodied, it’s active.
In Luke, Jesus says that faith is the four companions
who carry their paralyzed friend through the roof of a house so he can be in the presence of Jesus. (Luke 5:17-26).
In Luke, Jesus says that faith is the woman who responds with love to forgiveness she’s received
by washing his feet with expensive ointment (Luke 7:44-50).
In Luke, Jesus says that faith is the woman bleeding for 12 years who is willing to take a risk in touching Jesus’ robe (Luke 8:43-48).
To us today, Jesus says that faith is active – just doing the things that need to be done – as a slave would do for a master…even though they don’t seem particularly remarkable.
(From David Lose[ii]…:
Faith is going to work and doing a good job.
Faith is listening to someone who needs to talk.
Faith is getting the kids off to school.
Faith is sitting with someone in the cafeteria who looks like they could use a friend.
Faith is praying for a neighbor who’s having a hard time.
Faith is volunteering at Carpenter’s Shelter.
Faith is voting even when the choice of candidates seems discouraging.
The list could go on and on.
“Faith is a mighty active thing,”
Martin Luther said.
God’s Work/Our Hands.
Mother Teresa didn’t think she had much faith…
but as we all know, she moved some mulberry trees!
There’s another aspect of faith which doesn’t have to do with the head,
and also doesn’t have to do with the hands and ‘doing stuff’,
but has to do with the heart –
That aspect of faith is ‘trust.’
There was a podcast about ‘trust’ on the TEd Radio Hour recently.[iii]
The speaker was Charles Hazlewood, a conductor of orchestras all around the world.
He talked about a dynamic I never really thought about before –
the trust between conductors and musicians.
He says there’s a terrifying moment when the conductor raises his or her arm to signal the musicians…..
and then has to trust that the musicians will read that gesture
and respond to it.
The conductor has to trust that somehow 90 or so people
all will come together at that moment.
“It’s a small miracle,” he says!
According to Hazlewood,
trust is the key ingredient.
He says that there has to be an unshakeable bond of trust
which makes the relationship between conductor and musicians work.
And in fact, he adds, trust is a key ingredient that makes any relationship work….
including the relationship between us and God.
Trust allows us to believe that despite any evidence to the contrary,
things will turn out alright in the end:
there will be peace;
there will be justice;
there will be joy.
Faith is trust in the relationship.
No small miracle some days!
“Give us more faith!” the disciples plead.
Faith isn’t a head thing-
it is a heart thing and a hands thing.
Faith trusts and faith acts.
Jesus says we already have enough for both.