“Communion with Unworthy but Dutiful Servants”                     October 6, 2013

Luke 17:5-10                                                                                         Stephens City UMC

 

Grace and peace to you from God our Father and from the Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.

 

I.                   Have you ever had something build up inside of you and it just keeps building until suddenly you blurt it out?

A.    It appears that that is what has happened in our scripture lesson for today.

1.     For chapter after chapter in Luke’s Gospel the disciples have been observing Jesus in action.

2.     He taught them using parables in an effort to sketch out for them the nature of the Kingdom of God.

3.     It appears that often the parables confused them and they seem to be even more confused by Jesus miraculously doing things like healing people and silencing the winds and calming the raging waters.

4.     How does he do that? They wondered.

5.     Finally, in large part because they are clueless, they blurt out “Increase our faith!”

6.     Maybe if their faith was increased then they would understand better.

B.     On this World Communion Sunday maybe that’s what we and many of the other Christians around the world feel like blurting out: “Increase our faith!”

1.     After all, Sunday after Sunday preachers like me stand up and talk about all the great things that Jesus said and did and there you sit, and Christians around the world like you sit, and ask “Is all that really true?”

2.     “Dang, I’d like to believe that, but how?” So you want to blurt out “Increase my faith! Help me understand better.”

C.     When the apostles said to the Lord, “Increase our faith!” The Lord replied, “If you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you could say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted and planted in the sea,’ and it would obey.” (Luke 17:6)

1.     It’s like Jesus is saying, “You don’t need much faith, faith as small as a tiny mustard seed will do.”

2.     That’s reassuring to most of us because with the way we live our faith, a tiny mustard seed is probably a pretty accurate self assessment.

D.    Jesus, who knows our hearts and our minds, is aware of how we size ourselves up so he offered a word of grace to his disciples then and to us now.

1.     After saying what he said about the mustard seed he tells a story about a slave who has worked all day, comes in from plowing and tending sheep which means the slave has been about his master’s work.

2.     And when slave comes in the next set of instructions from the master are to prepare supper.

3.     And being a good dutiful servant the slave does just that.

4.     I mean, how else would you expect the story to go?

5.     The slave’s purpose is to be a good dutiful servant.

6.     And Jesus says that’s the way Christians ought to act for in Luke 17:10 we read of Jesus saying, “So, you also, when you have done all that you were ordered to do, say: ‘We are worthless slaves; we have done only what we ought to have done.’”

7.     In other words, Jesus was telling them and he is telling us that faith is not some incredible intellectual achievement but that faith is simply a matter of humbly, on a daily basis, and often mundanely striving as best you can to obey Jesus and to be his follower.

8.     Faith is about helping in the Food Pantry or tutoring a child or inviting a neighbor to worship and things like that.

9.     It’s not as much about what you think as what you do.

E.     So here’s the good news for you and me and for all Christians around the world today, “We don’t have to have a huge ability to believe; we simply must be those who know that Jesus gives us a job to do and then we go and do it.” (Willimon, Increasing Faith, October 6, 2013)

1.     Faith isn’t about having Jesus all figured out; faith is about getting your life straight in light of Jesus & you get your life straight by simply doing what he asks you to do and that’s good news and reward enough.