Pentecost 19 C 2010 – World Comunion Sunday

Increase our faith, the disciples cry – and Jesus is not impressed.

It’s not your faith that’s the problem, Jesus tells them,  it’s you.

How’s that for direct – how’s that for getting right to the heart of the matter –

Gentle Jesus, meek and mild; I don’t think so.

Hard as it is to hear, Jesus is telling his friends – his only friends –

that they have forgotten their place.

They were suffering an identity crisis – forgetting who they were,

misunderstanding God’s call to life in service…(to a new arrangement of power?)

and Jesus draws this to their attention with an arresting description from their reality.

Slaves and masters – there’s a relationship they were familiar with.

The rules are clear – the order of things apparent – and Jesus uses their knowledge of the way things were to help them imagine how things might be.

God’s rule supposes a certain order to things

an order that sees us grateful, not greedy for more..

because ‘more’ is not necessary when God provides –

“even the smallest kernel of faith allows for the impossible…”

The disciples have not fully accepted Jesus teaching on the kingdom.

They seem to have completely misunderstood God’s gifts of grace.

How often, I wonder, are we guilty of the same kind of misunderstanding?

We are prone to asking for more than we have – and ours is a society that teaches that success means never taking “no” for an answer.

Even within the church, we are never satisfied with the current arrangement,

having become convinced that bigger is better –

we sound just as petty as the disciples:

We need more – more people (of faith), more trappings (of faith),

more of anything that will mark us as enduring and successful.

And Jesus words condemn these attitudes in us.

Jesus may have exaggerated to make his point – but make it he will:

When you have done what you were told to do – expect no thanks –

expect no reward, know that you have acted as you ought.

Whether or not we need to extend the metaphor,

and think of ourselves as “worthless slaves” in the manor of many an old-time hymn,

is a discussion for another day.

But trusting in the providence of God

means trusting that your needs will always be met –

choosing to serve the living God

is a choice that puts us in a place of gratitude, not greed –

accepting the gift of faith that comes by God’s Spirit

we obtain a power, not to control but to submit.

That is where Jesus leads me with his metaphor –

hopeful that the church might overcome her inferiority complex

and accept that bigger is not always better – that enough is as good as a feast –

Today we remember that great mystery of service and receive again that token of grace

in the Sacrament of Holy Communion.

In this Sacrament, the church remembers that in his living and dying,

Jesus was doing just what he ought to have done.

Today we share the feast with those of many denominations

marking a day to remember that the true purpose of the church

is to witness to the goodness and grace that God offers in Jesus Christ.

Perhaps today is the day that we recognize

that submission to the will of God who loves us

is the best response to our circumstances, whatever they may be.

Let us ready ourselves for the feast, sure that our place in God’s plan

may well be that of slaves who are content (and willing)

to do “only what we ought to have done…”

Amen – Alleluia – Amen.

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