Sermon for Sunday December 16, 2018
Passages: Isaiah 38:1-8; Hebrews 1:1-14; Luke 17:1-10
In the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit!
If you’ve ever worked with watches, you know the tiny little gears that it takes to make everything move. Majority of people now a days wear smartwatches. Though complex by fitting a computer into something so small, I would argue it does not in anyway come close to a classic watch. Every morning you would put it on you had to turn the dial and wined it up. Yet, the gears and all the intricate moving parts were invisible to the naked eye. A true master watchmaker would understand this. I once read that if you were an apprentice and were learning watches, you had to take apart a watch and put it back together. In fact this image of how a watch works is even brought into our creation understanding of creation. In the argument of creation vs. evolution, there is a story about how two men, a creationist and an evolutionist, walking along the beach found a watch that worked perfectly. Each component was there with a specific reason. One of them, an evolutionist, would argue that all those parts randomly over a long period of time came together to make this watch, whereas the other man, the creationist, would argue there had to be a intelligent designer. It is an interesting argument and one we can look at later.
But the reason I bring this image of watches to our attention is because of today’s parable. Christ speaks “If you had faith as a grain of mustard seed, you could say to this sycamine tree, ‘Be rooted up, and be planted in the sea,’ and it would obey you. “ (v.6) This is a parable many of us have heard repeatedly. It is a story that even Sunday School children know and perhaps as a project have planted mustard seeds, to see what will happen. But Christ is not giving us this example as a Sunday School project. What Christ speaks about here is faith. A faith so strong it can move trees and mountains. I do not know of anyone in history to have moved real mountains. Not even sure what good it would do. Living here in the Midwest I definitely miss mountains but I won’t be moving any of them here. So why is Christ comparing faith to a mustard seed?
At the time a mustard seed one the smallest seeds known. However, it was a seed that when fully matured grew to almost 12 feet high. Perhaps Christ is showing us what we can do with a mature faith? What is faith? Unfortunately, a Sunday Sermon is far too short to examine what faith is. But perhaps we can examine the significance of the mustard seed. The Gospel account began with Christ teaching about forgiveness. “if your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him; and if he sins against you seven times in the day, and turns to you seven times, and says, ‘I repent,’ you must forgive him.” (v. 3-4) Therefore, faith requires forgiveness.
This topic of forgiveness is repeated over and over again throughout scripture. In fact Christ says that if you are at the Altar, leave your sacrifice and go and reconcile with your brother. Forgiveness not just for us but by us to those around us. As the Lord’s prayer teaches, “forgive us…as we forgive…” And someone might say but Diratsoo, I have been hurt over and over again or a something horrible was done to me how could I forgive them? “I can be a good Christian without forgiving that one person.” We often forget that faith does not mean freedom from pain or suffering, rather an understanding through it. My dear brothers and sisters, though it may be small, but every act, every thought, every relationship is a like a mustard seed that can either grow and strengthen our faith, or hold us back.
Christ’s teaching of the mustard seed is very much like the watch. No matter how small every gear and bolt, all of it is necessary to make the watch work perfectly. No matter how small we may think our faith is, no matter how battered and bruised we are, each act, each prayer, each moment even as small as a mustard seed can do great things in our faith. Yes this is not easy. It takes time. In fact if you have ever seen a mustard seed grow, it needs to take years to take root then it starts going up. Likewise for each one of us, every time we forgive those who hurt us, every time we show love in the face of hate, every time we give hope to the hopeless through our actions and our relationships, it is giving nutrition to our seed. A seed of faith that has been planted and washed with the blood of Christ for us through his sacrifice. A tiny seed that can grow to move mountains and trees. A faith, even tiny in size, that can change this world.
Therefore, my dear brother and sisters, keep watering your seed of faith. Forgive each other, love each other, not in words but in actions. And this Christmas season that is upon us will bring forth blessings unseen. Let us pray for our faith and forgiveness, and the faith and forgiveness of those around us. Amen!!