In the middle of all that has been happening around it was difficult to arrive at a central focus for us this weekend. The week began with the threat of a catastrophic hurricane headingo for a direct hit to St. Petersburg and Tampa Bay. Fear and anxiety struck us all. Are we to evacuate and leave the area to await the storms destruction? Will the residence of Casa Arnoldus that has been home to us these past five nearly six years be wiped away? All of this was on our minds. Finally the decision came evacuate and leave the state.
Having been spared the catastrophe of Ivan and yet still hundreds of miles away, the wonder of what is the right message to coney to parishioners and those who journey with us spiritually around the world. I begin with the words of Psalm 95:1.
Come, let us sing joyfully to the LORD;
let us acclaim the Rock of our salvation.
Let us come into his presence with thanksgiving;
let us joyfully sing psalms to him.
Even in moments likes this we still praise with joy and thanksgiving our Lord who is ever present to us, watches over us and guides is. The joy of the psalmist can echo in hearts as we are grateful for having been spared. Yet are hearts are heavy for those who have lost so much just south of us in Sarasota County. Through it all there is hope for those who keep the faith. The witness of faith and hope even in the middle of destruction. I saw a woman weeping at the loss of everything, but in her next breath she said we thank God we are alive.
In todays Gospel we find Jesus’ disciples asking Him to increase their faith. They have doubt in their own faith. We like Jesus’ followers in facing challenges, hardship and even overwhelming odds question ourselves and the ability of our faith to sustain us and support us through the challenges. The community that Luke writes knows what it is to doubt their faith when they are persecuted because of their faith in Jesus. There having faith in Jesus went against the norms of the day. In the ancient world the emperor was supposed to be their Lord, but the true disciple now places their faith in Jesus.
The metaphor of the mustard seed is a reminder of two things. One even a little bit of faith is enough to move the impossible. The mustard seed a small flat seed when planted becomes a large bush. The second point is we have to take our faith and treat it like a seed. We have to plant it. One cannot expect a seed to produce anything unless it is planted. So if you’re desiring more or stronger faith, take the faith you have and treat it like a seed. Plant it, nurture it, water it cultivate that seed that you may have an abundance of faith that will move the mulberry tree or the mountain in front of you.
Faith empowers one to move beyond the limits of one’s own abilities and fears, to trust in God’s ability to lead us and root us in His power that we might serve others. To fan into flame the gift of the Spirit within them.