Monday, October 7, 2013

Sermon for the Twentieth Sunday after Pentecost

If you had 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 you.

Faith the size of a mustard seed.

Now, you all know we have started our childrens’ ministry, and we have named it Mustard Seed.
We chose this name because Jesus uses the image of a mustard seed quite a few times in his parables.
Later today at Mustard Seed, we will be hearing Jesus speak about the mustard seed growing into a tree.

Today’s reading is a bit different, but goes to the same point.


Without faith, we wouldn’t be here this morning.
Without faith, we wouldn’t bother with all the difficulties of living and having our being in the church.
Without faith, we wouldn’t be able to put our hands out to receive the body and blood of Christ at communion.
Without faith, we wouldn’t be able to pray.

I can only speak for myself, but without faith, I’d be completely lost.

‘If you had 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 you.

Now this is not a statement that is to be taken literally.
Jesus, as he does so often, uses hyperbole to make a point.
Faith, even a small amount can work miracles, if only we exploit it to the fullest.

Jesus is not speaking about a doctrinally correct faith,
or a faith that has gone through a series if intellectual propositions.
He isn’t speaking about a creedal statement.
He is speaking about our ability to affirm life in spite of what life may dish out, even in the face of doubts.

It has nothing to do with our formal intellectual beliefs.
In fact, these can often get in the way of our faith.

The importance of faith comes out in the gospels most often in the healing stories. Most of the healing narratives end with Jesus saying something like ‘your faith has made you well,’ or ‘your faith has made you whole.’

Faith is a function of the soul, not the intellect.
Like when Jesus said
“Truly I tell you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will never enter it.” 

A child’s faith does not come from an intellectual process.
It comes from their soul.
Our faith needs to be the same.

Faith is something that is largely rejected in our time.
This rejection comes from an over intellectualised and over rationalised attitude toward life.
Humankind essentially worships the intellect and reason.
A belief in a creedal statement is mistaken for faith.
A belief in the 39 articles is mistaken for faith.
None of this can be proven by science or intellectual thought.
If they can’t be proven, they are generally rejected.
The intellect can’t believe in something unless it is proved.
This is why there is so little faith in the world today.
It is a mistaken idea of what  faith is,
how faith works in us,
and where faith comes from.
It comes from denying the soul.
Denial of the soul denies faiths existence.

The world values intellect more than feeling,
function more than relationship,
and even more,
the capacity to make money more than the capacity to heal.
Look at the US government at the moment.

Even religion values intellect more than these things in our time.
Obedience to law, rationality, puritanical morality are valued more faith.

I am not saying intellect is bad, or we don’t need it, or that it is anti faith.
I’m not saying that at all.
We don’t need to leave our brains at home when we come to church.
Not at all.
What I am saying is that faith comes from a different place.
It comes from us being in touch with our souls.
It comes from our souls being in touch with God.

Jesus almost seems to be saying as much:

‘If you had 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 you.

Our intellect knows we can’t uproot a tree by wishing or praying it to happen.
Jesus uses hyperbole to make the point.

The brain hears this, knows it not to be a rational idea and dismisses it.

But the soul feels it.
The soul hears it and is enlivened by such an idea.
The soul knows it, and faith springs to life.
With faith we hear this, and it feels like a great freedom is being placed with us.
With faith we feel the roots of the mulberry tree coming out of the ground.
Faith allows what the intellect deems impossible.

The letter to the Hebrews tells us:
faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.

Faith the size of a mustard seed allows the miraculous to be a reality.

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