Humbly to the Table

"Increase our faith!" (Luke 17:5).  This request from the disciples seems perfectly reasonable.  They have seen Jesus cleanse and heal people, and even resuscitate a dead man.  They have seen him calm a storm, cast out demons, and multiply loaves and fish.  Not only have they seen Jesus do all this, but they have done some of it themselves.  After Jesus sent seventy of the disciples out, they returned with joy and reported, "Even the demons submit to us!"  (Luke 10:17).  It is not surprising they would want to experience more.

 

Jesus' response about faith the size of a mustard seed defies the disciples' expectations of what an increase in faith looks like.  He then shares a reflection about obedience and humility.   An increase in faith, Jesus seems to be saying, does not come through supernatural demonstration of power but through humble obedience to what God has commanded.

As we gather in worship, we certainly hope for an increase in our own faith.  Perhaps we, like the first disciples, have experienced God working through us in amazing ways.  Maybe we have seen new life appear in the lives of people around us.  Given these glimpses of grace, we find ourselves wanting more. 

 

Increase our faith!

 

Jesus' answer to our request involves the same obedience and humility commended to the disciples.  Though a simple invitation to service, this humble obedience can be difficult to put into practice.  One way we are obedient to our baptismal call is by coming together around a table in remembrance of Jesus, receiving the  body and blood of Christ in communion.  Martin Luther's Small Catechism reminds us that the words "given for you" and "shed for you" are essential words of forgiveness---including forgiveness for when we aren't humble or obedient to God's desires for us.  In faith we serve as we are able.  We then come humbly to the table to be served a gift of grace and forgiveness, given and shed for each of us.

Gospel Reading

  Sunday, November 17th, 2019

 

Luke 21: 5-19

5 When some were speaking about the temple, how it was adorned with beautiful stones and gifts dedicated to God, he said, 6 "As for these things that you see, the days will come when not one stone will be left upon another; all will be thrown down." 7 They asked him, "Teacher, when will this be, and what will be the sign that this is about to take place?" 8 And he said, "Beware that you are not led astray; for many will come in my name and say, "I am he!' and, "The time is near!' Do not go after them. 9 "When you hear of wars and insurrections, do not be terrified; for these things must take place first, but the end will not follow immediately." 10 Then he said to them, "Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom; 11 there will be great earthquakes, and in various places famines and plagues; and there will be dreadful portents and great signs from heaven. 12 "But before all this occurs, they will arrest you and persecute you; they will hand you over to synagogues and prisons, and you will be brought before kings and governors because of my name. 13 This will give you an opportunity to testify. 14 So make up your minds not to prepare your defense in advance; 15 for I will give you words and a wisdom that none of your opponents will be able to withstand or contradict. 16 You will be betrayed even by parents and brothers, by relatives and friends; and they will put some of you to death. 17 You will be hated by all because of my name. 18 But not a hair of your head will perish. 19 By your endurance you will gain your souls.