14 June 2009/Pentecost 2 – 2 Corinthians 5:6-17*Mark 4 26-34
The Reverend Kirk Alan Kubicek, Saint Peter’s at Ellicott Mills, Maryland
For We Walk By Faith
After a couple of weeks like we have just had, it seems to be a good time to stop and reflect upon just what it means to “walk by faith.”
There was the Air France Airline disaster which continues to play out in excruciatingly slow motion. There was the tragic shooting at the Holocaust Museum which only serves as a reminder of just how real true evil and hate is in this world. North Korea continues to develop nuclear capabilities while putting U.S. journalists on trial. A young boy in Crofton is assaulted and killed by other youths while riding his bicycle. Terrorists continue to unleash explosive devices in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan and India.
Only a deep seated sense of denial would pretend that 24/7 detailing of such events has no effect on us. If not frightening enough in their own right, learning about such tragic and evil events triggers feelings and memories we try to keep locked away and hidden deep inside of us. Anxiety creeps in at moments we least expect it. It becomes increasingly difficult to agree with Professor Pangloss “that all is for the best in this best of all possible worlds.”
Against such a backdrop, Paul and Jesus both challenge us to see things as different from what they appear. Paul says we are to see no one from a human point of view. Jesus in his parables alludes to the present yet hidden and emerging nature of God’s kingdom.
Without a categorical listing, suffice it to say that Paul and Jesus faced a dangerous and evil world much like the one we experience today. As did the young church, as did the early disciples of Jesus.
Yet, despite all that can and does go wrong, Jesus talks about a sower and some seeds. Seeds that once sown grow, the sower knows not how. It is a mystery. Even while the sower is asleep, the seed produces a harvest.
In a culture in which we find ourselves caught up in endless cycles of overwork, increased productivity, and increased profit as immutable necessary goals, Jesus in this simple tale invites us to recognize that God’s grace does not depend on human efforts.
Indeed, it seems to be an invitation to Sabbath Rest by which our lives might be lived in a more balanced rhythm of sleeping, rising, working and RESTING. In this way we glorify God by performing the productive work of the sower while recognizing that the growth of the seed ultimately depends on God.
Is it possible that such recognition constitutes what Paul calls Walking By Faith?
Are we to believe that God is in control of growth and harvest despite the evidences of the way the world appears to be?
Jesus would be saying, Yes! Yes, says Jesus, the world is not chiefly about happiness but about Hope. If you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you would see things differently. If you stick around long enough, you will hear Paul conclude that the old has passed away, so that if you are in me as I am in you, there is a new creation. Everything has become new. The seed becomes a bush with branches to provide a home for all wayfarers like the birds. The bush will provide shade for those who are wilting in the sun.
Then the editorial board of Mark points out that Jesus was always talking this way. No straight lines, no clearly defined markers. Yet, stories that are infused with Hope. Stories which mean to remind us that God will not fail to fulfill the promise of salvation! It is already coming into being, says Jesus! Like the shrub slowly emerges from the seed, silently, quietly, but powerfully coming to be.
Our choosing to be here as a worshipping community, a community of prayer, as people who continue to form families, raise children, welcome strangers, care for one another, makes us a sign that the falseness of this world is ultimately bounded by a more profound truth. We are the seed. We are becoming the shrub, the shelter and the shade from the falseness of this world
If only we will walk by faith. Faith as small as a mustard seed is all you need.
If you have faith as small as a mustard seed/
If you have faith as small as a mustard seed
You can take trees and hurl them in the sea/
You can take trees and hurl them in the sea
The lame will walk and the blind will see/
The lame will walk and the blind will see
Wars will cease with the end of greed/
Wars will cease with the end of greed
Loaves multiply so there’s enough to feed/
Loaves multiply so there’s enough to feed
As you sow you shall receive/
As you sow you shall receive
As you pray you will believe/
As you pray you will believe
Trust in the Lord, He’ll supply every need/
Trust in the Lord, He’ll supply every need
As you follow Christ you’ll begin to lead/
As you follow Christ you’ll begin to lead