Wednesday, October 6

Sermon Sunday October 3, 2004

Habakkuk 1:1-4;2:1-4
Psalm 37:1-9
2 Timothy 1:5-14
Luke 17:5-10
[The text of this sermon is reconstructed from an extemporaneous sermon preached by Larry Kamphausen]
Faith: All of these Scriptures describe for us what it is to have faith. According to these passages faith is that which faces the world as it is, but still trusts in God; Faith is that which is handed on to us and which we must guard in ourselves (though our reception and guarding are made possible by God); Faith is small powerful and humble.
At times it is difficult to have faith and face the world as it is. In the face of what actualy is faith seems small and insignificant. This is what Luke presents as he writes: "The appostles said to the Lord "Increase our faith!"" We face the world and our faith seems small, insignificant. Jesus responds: "If you have the 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."
Jesus' answer to a lack of faith is to emphasize the power of faith, even if it is small. The smallest amount of faith can reorder the world. And just in case we think we hear in this the power of visualization or positive thinking, the faith of the self-help aisle of the local bookstore, Jesus tells another parable. Jesus says you wouldn't tell a slave to sit and have supper with you but would tell him to fix your supper. And when the slave has done this you would not thank him for doing what he had been commanded to do. "So, you also when you ahve done all that you were ordered to do, say, 'We are worthless slaves; we have done only what we ought to have done.'" This powerful faith is not for our own benefit but to be of service to God and others. Faith alows us to do what we are called to do.
This call of faith means facing the world as it is.

The first sentences of Habakuk- "O Lord, how long shall I cry for help, and you will not listen, or cry to you "Violence!" and you will not save?" are words of faith. This may seem odd since they appear to be questioning God, and are words of doubt. Yet the prophet is speaking from a conviction of who God is and what God is about. This calling God to account because of conditions in the world the prophet sees arround him is based on a faith in God's justice and reighteousness. The complaint would make no sense if God did not concern God's self with what Habakkuk brings before God.
This leads to the last aspect of faith brought out in our texts. In 2 Timothy 1 we see how Timothy's faith was handed on to him and thus that his faith has content, something to be guarded: "hold to the stadard of sound teaching that you heard form me, in the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. Gurad the good treasure entrusted to you, with the help of the Holy Spirit living in us."
The faith we talk about as Christians is trust in a God, revealed in the person of Jesus Christ. It is this faith that has been taught and past down through the generations that is small humble and powerful, and looks at the world with open eyes without losing trust in God, and waits on God, while seeking justice and reighteousness.
Our faith as Christians does not shrink from a violent world that often seems absent of God, but waits, humble and small like a tiny seed, on God while seeking justice.