“Increase our faith!”
The gospel reading for this week has the apostles asking this (demanding this?) from Jesus.
It is a request or demand that we could make too. With all that is going on in our world today: Hurricanes in the Maritimes, Puerto Rico and Florida. An increasingly unpredictable Russia that is now losing the war in Ukraine and the threats of nuclear war. Orange Shirt Day and the reminder of the hard work of reconciliation that is before us as settler peoples and indigenous peoples. Gas prices shooting up once again and inflation still running rampant and out of control. The front-runner in our Winnipeg mayoral election facing allegations of workplace harassment.
And that is only the stuff this week…
A little more faith feels like something we could use. Or some hope. Just something more.
Something more as a group. We could benefit from an increase in faith collectively. Something that bonds us together and helps us through. More faith as neighbourhood, congregation, community, city, nation or world might be the thing that helps us work together, that allows us to overcome challenges, strive to help the weaker and needy among us, or maybe to just stop the social media bickering for awhile.
There is also all the stuff that we are each facing individually too. Health challenges or crises, work stress, school stress, family conflict, or just the exhaustion of adapting to a fall time that has been completely different from the last two in how the world is approaching pandemic and activities.
Each of us on our own could use an increase in faith, a little boost to carry us through each day to allow us to see the hope of making it to the other side of whatever obstacle or challenges stand in our way.
Increase our faith!
But we know that this isn’t how it works. Jesus doesn’t just turn a knob and we become more faithful.
Faith is relationship. Faith is trust. Faith – like so much in this world – is something to be worked at and practiced. The way it increases is over time as we live life in faithful community that supports and cares for one another. A community shaped by the continual telling and re-telling of the gospel story over weeks and seasons, until that story become grafted onto our bones and we cannot help but see the world through it.
“Increase our faith!” we might say.
And even then, our faith isn’t increased. Rather, we see that God’s faith in us has been holding and carrying us all along. We learn that God’s faith placed us – God’s promises of mercy, forgiveness and new life – have been our foundation since before we were born and will be there long after we are gone.
God says, “My faithfulness is always given for you.”