Sunday, October 3, 2010

Pentecost 19-C: Faithful waiting

Lectionary:Lamentations 1:1-6; Lamentations 3:19-26; 2 Timothy 1:1-14; Luke 17:5-10

Sometimes the most faithful thing we can do is nothing… nothing but wait and trust in God.

Back in my other life when I worked with battered and bruised people who had been betrayed by persons they loved, the hardest thing I had to teach them was to wait; to stop reacting to the problems they thought they saw; to take a step back and wait until a bigger picture was revealed or until the way through could be seen.

For Christians, this is faithful waiting and it isn’t a passive process – it isn’t just sitting back while God magically fixes everything that isn’t right. Faithful waiting is open, trusting, active, and expectant. Faithful waiting is also an important spiritual discipline for every mature or maturing Christian to practice.

Our Scriptures today walk us through this process of faithful waiting:


The story behind the book of Lamentations is this: in 587 Babylon destroyed Jerusalem and its temple and deported almost everyone - only the poorest and the weakest were left. The first five chapters of Lamentations are a response to this catastrophe. It has been said, “When we’re wounded physically, we cry out in pain, when we’re wounded spiritually, we lament.” These poems in Lamentations are honest prayers - open, unshielded, crying out to God, expecting to be heard and anticipating a response from God that puts things right.


In this response to the first reading, we see the shift from despair to hope. When our souls are bowed down, when we are weighed down by our troubles, the grace of God fills us and we remember what we already know about God: that the “steadfast love of the LORD never ceases” and God’s “mercies never come to an end,” that God is faithful and always acts to redeem... always.


Paul reminds us through his letter to Timothy, to seek renewal of our faith; to rekindle the gift of God that is within you, through the laying on of hands. In other words, get up and go get what you need. God is waiting to provide it. Power and love and self-discipline are given to us as gifts, but we must open ourselves to receive them.

Please turn in your Prayer Books with me to page 461 – the section of our Prayer Book called “Ministration to the Sick.” There, on the top of the page is a prayer for “Trust in God. “ Let’s read this prayer together:

“O God, the source of all health: So fill my heart with faith in your love, that with calm expectancy I may make room for your power to possess me, and gracefully accept your healing; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.”

Submitting ourselves to anointing and laying on of hands (an ancient practice) brings us into the presence of the power of God in an unique and wonderful way; and it strengthens us to answer our holy calling… to fulfill God’s purpose for us and for the world.


Jesus tells the disciples, if you had faith the size of a mustard seed, you could imagine the impossible. For instance, you could say to this tree (Note: the tree Jesus is describing typically has deep roots and thrives in dry areas - it doesn’t do well in wet areas) … you could say to this tree ‘be uprooted and planted in the sea,’ and you could expect it to obey you.

For nothing is impossible with God.

And that is what Jesus is teaching in the Parable of the Mustard Seed. As with the other parables we’ve heard these last few weeks, this parable is about God. God designed the mustard weed to be prolific – it was kind of the kudzu of ancient Israel. It grew anywhere and everywhere the tiny seed landed creating a huge plant that overtook whatever else was there.

Birds would eat the seeds of the mustard weed and spread them in their droppings. The birds didn’t have to go to extraordinary lengths to spread the seeds of the mustard weed, they just lived their normal bird-lives, eating and being nourished by those seeds. And by the grace and design of God, the mustard weed was planted far and wide.

Like the mustard weed, God has designed the Good News, spread through our everyday living of it, to flourish anywhere and everywhere.

And this is our holy calling – to nourish ourselves with the holy food of Word and Sacrament… to live everyday faithfully waiting for the next step in our journey of faith to be revealed to us by our merciful God. We don’t have to do extraordinary things – God will. We can count on it. All we have to do is live our lives, remaining open to God, trusting in the faithfulness of God, actively seeking the presence of God, and expecting the best from God.

In a few minutes we will pray together, and lay hands on one another. As we do, we remember that God hears our prayers, and we can expect that God will answer our prayers.

Today when we notice that little voice in our head that says: “God has so much more to deal with than my little problem…” or “Those kinds of miraculous things don’t really happen anymore…” we remember that if we have faith the size of a mustard seed we will witness the amazing power and grace of God at work in us - and in the world through us.

1 comment:

Cheri Miles said...

Thank You!