Texts: Luke 17: 5-10; 2 Timothy 1: 3-7

This morning we land mid-stream into Jesus’ teaching when we hear the disciples blurt out “Lord, increase our faith!” as though what they’re hearing is beyond them or seems too much for them … this sense that they’re not up to the task, and in need of more than what they’ve got.

Chances are, we know that place!
Maybe the waiting time for medical attention or to hear from a loved one -- maybe the waiting time is pushing the edges of our ability to cope. Maybe we’re standing on the threshold of taking the next step but our courage has up and left. Maybe it’s clear to us, the right thing to do, but we’re stymied by all the complications. Or maybe it’s not clear, the right thing to do. “Lord, increase our faith!” Whatever else that is, it’s a call for help when we’re at our wits end. We imagine there’s some way forward, some help to be had if we just had more faith.

But what Jesus says is that more faith isn’t the issue.
If you have faith the size of a mustard seed -- if you have the tiniest speck of faith -- you could be about unimaginable, impossible things.
And then he goes off on what seems a totally unrelated tangent.  “Which of you, he says, would say to your servant who has just come in from the fields, ‘here sit at the table; enjoy this meal with me.’ Would you not instead say, ‘prepare my supper and serve me, and then later take your turn to eat and drink.’ Do you thank the servant for doing what he’s meant to do?”
This is Jesus taking us through the proper order of things … there’s the role of the master and the role of the servant; each of them being about the business that is their’s to be about. But having led us into imagining ourselves in the role of the master, (“which of you would say to your servant?” he asks), then comes the punch line: “So you also, when have done all that you have been ordered to do” he says. Oh! So now we’re the servants … and now he’s speaking in real time, not story time! Jesus says to us when you have done all that you were ordered to do, say, “We are ordinary servants; we have done no more than our duty.”

So what do we have here?
Jesus hears the disciples’ plea: “increase our faith”. As they see it they are not up to the task of following in his way. What they see is their inadequacy … their lack. But he comes back with you have been given enough … the tiniest amount of faith is all that’s needed. As servants of God’s grace, your job is to get on with this way of Love, this way of abundant life for all. Just do it! Get on with living the life God is calling you to live.

Get on with it? Really? How unrealistic? Who do you think we are, Jesus? Can’t you see our limitations? We’re only human.

Of course he can see our limitations … our frailty … our self-centeredness … the power of fear in our lives. But there’s another power he sees … more powerful yet, that his disciples have yet to experience. What he knows that they don’t yet understand is that the same divine power that they see in him is also in them. That same power for life, that same healing enlivening love that is at work in and through him, is with them and for them … it’s there in and for us! “Divinity dwells in everyone. This is our back story. This is our original blessing!”[1]

So Jesus’ encouragement to “get on with it!” … this is Jesus believing in his disciples even while they and we have yet to believe in ourselves. The creative, redeeming, reconciling life of God is already planted within us! It’s not for us to go searching outside of ourselves, but rather to come alive to ourselves … to wake up to the presence of the Spirit already with us.
“When we walk through woods and are overwhelmed by wonder, when we sing and dance in joy with a child, when we get the urge to create something beautiful, when we feel compassion for those confused, incarcerated families waiting to be deported, when we weep in the night because one of our loved ones is still estranged, when we pay attention to what we purchase, when our hearts are broken when someone is bullied or marginalized, when we grieve when our first response is prejudice …
here and there, in all of this, we are experiencing our divinity.
Wonder, creativity, joy, compassion, caring, forgiveness, grief, conviction -this is God’s heart in us!”[2] Do you notice how these holy impulses often arise unbidden, in spite of ourselves. You see, this is evidence, this is the experience of God’s power for life at work in us … quite apart from our own doing. Our part is following that impulse … allowing that impulse to move us, to grow in us.
It’s no wonder Jesus used the image of the seed … even the tiniest seed … a seed that carries within it this explosive potential … well beyond what we can imagine possible.

So we have Greta Thunberg in touch with both deep grief and deep love for the planet … for the gift of her own life. Grief and love … these holy impulses, expressions of divinity alive and at work in her. Holy impulses that she allowed … that she honoured within her.  Holy impulses that she obeyed.
How humiliating to be one girl sitting alone outside Parliament with her “on strike” sign. How intimidating it would be to walk into a roomful of corporate executives to confront their wicked practices. What hope is there of changing the minds of world leaders who are already committed to another way? Yet NONE of this deterred her.
And now look at what’s happening!

There’s something to be said for obeying the holy impulse!
There’s a whole new creation … a whole new way of being that’s possible through obeying the holy impulse, for behind and inside every holy impulse is the power of God’s infinite love, waiting to explode.

So the question for us is what will we do, what are we doing with our divinity? How are we making space in our lives in, our days to be in touch with and to honour the holy impulses that are rising in us?

What we’re talking about is world healing power … this close … as we take seriously the holy impulses given to us.

[1] Mary Wolfe in her reflection offered at James Bay United Church, June 24, 2018

[2]  Mary Wolfe, same reflection