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.