Millstones and Faith

Jesus said to his disciples, “Occasions for sin are bound to come, but woe to anyone through whom they come! 2 It would be better for you if a millstone were hung around your neck and you were thrown into the sea than for you to cause one of these little ones to sin. 3 Be on your guard! If a brother or sister sins, you must rebuke the offender, and if there is repentance, you must forgive. 4 And if the same person sins against you seven times a day and turns back to you seven times and says, ‘I repent,’ you must forgive.”

5 The apostles said to the Lord, “Increase our faith!” (Luke 17: 1-5)

The Good News is that God still loves the world through each one of you. You are God’s good news, you are God’s love in action. (Mother Teresa)

We’ve had a rough couple of weeks haven’t we.  We’ve seen catastrophic weather events ravage the Philippines, Cameroon, Florida and our own beautiful East Coast.  We’ve heard of people that we love being displaced and evacuated from their homes; of farm land destroyed; of our PEI coast being completely eroded away.  At the same time we’re seeing inflation rates that are driving people into poverty and homelessness, and our healthcare and service systems being stretched to the point of breaking because of staffing shortages.

Just this morning, as I was driving to the church I heard that we were being warned that we were entering the 8th wave of Covid.  Infection rates were increasing, as are the rates of hospitalization and death.

Deep heavy sigh.

Sometimes it really feels like I’m not up for this.  Sometimes it feels like I haven’t got what it takes to navigate these scary waters of climate change, of pandemics, of inflation, and of economic hardship.  Its too big a job for someone like me.  I don’t feel wise enough – or healthy enough – or young enough.

Or frankly; motivated enough.

Its all very daunting.

This week the lectionary handed me up that passage in Luke about having “Faith as a mustard seed”.  I like this passage because it’s a pretty ‘feel-good’ passage.  It tells us that all you need is a little kernel of faith and you can do really great things in the name of Jesus.  What we forget about those few feel-good phrases is that It’s proceeded by five verses that spell out the high cost of discipleship.  These verses tell us that no matter who we are, we will always be confronted by things that will veer us away from following God; or that we may even be the people leading others away; particularly people who are vulnerable (“little ones” aren’t just children; its all who are in need of care).

These five little verses tell us that we need to be prepared to point out when others are in the wrong.  That’s something I can sometimes do quite gleefully!  BUT then if they ask for forgiveness, then we need to forgive.  Even if they REPEATEDLY did something.  (I love all the math in the passage I quoted.  I tried looking for a loop hole; if the math is 7 times a day and they repent the 7 times then I need to forgive.  So…..what about the 8th time?  LOL.  Can’t you just see Jesus rolling his eyes at me?)

Five little verses:

  1. You will always have times where its easier not to follow God.
  2. You may be the one who leads people away from God.
  3. You have to look after the most vulnerable, in particular.
  4. You have to call things out when they’re wrong.
  5. You always have to offer forgiveness when people ask for it.

No wonder the disciples said “I don’t think we’re up for this – you’re going to have to increase our faith”.

And I know that all of you know this story; Jesus doesn’t give them what they’re asking for.  Jesus never just waves a magic wand and bestows this huge portion of faith out to the disciples.  Actually, the stories read that the disciples are faced with even more difficulty and trial.  And we also know that a bunch of them threw in the towel and said “I can’t do this anymore”.  And at the end of the day, I’m not sure that Jesus is talking about a quantity of faith.  I think maybe Jesus is talking about a quality of faith.

A quality of faith that recognize that there will be really tough times; in fact, we may be the tough time.

A quality of faith that says we look after each other, particularly those that need it.

A quality of faith that can call out the injustices of this world, but then be quick to offer forgiveness.

In short, a quality of faith that places loving God and loving each other ahead of anything else.  Ahead of comfort.  Ahead of pride.  Ahead of wealth.  Ahead of power.

Because, this is where we become God’s good news for the world.  For our broken, ravaged world.

Blessings today my friends.  We ARE loved.  And so, we need to love. And yes, we do have what it takes.

~Rev. Lynne

2 thoughts on “Millstones and Faith”

  1. Lynn, this passage on having the ‘faith of grain of mustard seed” hits home to me. My aunt gave me a necklace when I was around 7 or 8, and many times when I was faced with a challenging subject at school for a test, I would look or wear the necklace to school in good faith. I know that I am faced with a challenge that has not been achieved for quite some time. I am in position now to either go for it or choose another direction. My attempts to achieve this goal has not happened because I have not wanted it bad enough or ‘fear’.. I will keep you updated on my progress. Keep me in your thoughts and prayers.


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