Nineteenth Sunday after Pentecost (Proper 22), Year C

Lamentations 1:1-6 and Lamentations 3:19-26 or Psalm 137 •
Habakkuk 1:1-4; 2:1-4 and Psalm 37:1-9 •
2 Timothy 1:1-14 •
Luke 17:5-10

So....is Faith a choice? Or could it possibly be a requirement? Is it naturally built in?

Of course, we are limiting the choices here, but when we read the lectionary selections this week we were struck by the different representations of the ways people responded with Faith.

When we look at the two passages from Lamentations, the passage from Habakkuk....even the Psalms...we see people who are at the end of their Israelite ropes; and yet, these folks still are expressing messages of hope and trust in God.

These folks have had their homeland invaded and destroyed, they have been displaced, they have been insulted and beaten and run down.

And yet, they are still talk about their faith in God. They are still in conversation with God about how they can get back on top and how their enemies might be subdued.

We talked recently at KC on a Sunday morning irrational hope in the face of insurmountable situations, and that is what we see here.

But this Faith these folks display.....where does it come from? Do they choose to have it? Are they born with it? Do they have any other choice?

There is a chance there might be some illumination of this question from an unusual passage in Luke. We see Jesus in conversation with the disciples. Just prior to this passage Jesus commands them to always (seventy times seven) forgive folks who sin against them. The disciples response is to ask for more Faith. And then Jesus responds telling them that a person does not need a Great Amount of Faith....just Faith the size of a mustard seed. It is almost as if he is telling them that you either Have Faith or You Don't....it is not an issue of quantity. He goes on to further illustrate this with a story about a servant / slave's responsibilities. As we read this it seems Jesus is saying that a slave / servant does not look for a reward or gratitude for simply doing his job. And it appears Jesus is connecting this to a Duty of each of us to Have Faith. It is not an option, it is not something we should expect an extra reward for, it is something we should Just Do....Have Faith.

And in the 2 Timothy passage, an experienced and faithful voice is giving encouragement to Timothy, reminding Timothy of the faith that has passed on to him by his mother and his grandmother and God's given gift of power and self-discipline. Timothy is being encouraged to weather the hard times by relying on what he knows deeply about his own faith. We sometimes refer to this as cell memory...the stuff deep within us that when we remember it is there, we can rely on in dark moments. A built-in safety net.

We are puzzled and amazed by the Faith we have. And sometimes we are puzzled and amazed by the Faith we do not have. And it is intriguing when we are able to hold someone else up because they cannot hold themselves Up. And when someone's Faith boosts us when we are in the pit.

In my dark nights
be present with me
in ways that I cannot fully understand
or explain
in my light days
help me share
those ways with others around me
when they cannot fully understand
or explain.

© matt & laura norvell 2010 www.settingourstones.org
we want to share this with you and hope you'll share with the world; we simply ask that you let people know where you found these words. May Grace & Peace be with you.

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