Sermon for June 13

May the words my mouth and the meditations of our hearts be acceptable to you O Lord, our strength, and our redeemer. Amen

An old friend of mine passed away this past Thursday. When I relayed the information to another friend, I simply said that he went from faith to sight. My friend didn’t understand so I told him that was another way of saying he passed away. The things he held in faith were now visible to him in reality.

Paul, in our second reading today was encouraging the congregation he founded in Corinth. He told them “we walk by faith, not by sight.” And as long as we walk upon this earth, we walk by faith.

As a child, were you ever blindfolded and then someone took you be the hand and led you around the yard? How did you feel? You were totally dependent on the person who had your hand. You had to trust that person that she or he would lead you on smooth ground or not lead you into a tree. “For we walk by faith, not by sight.

Walking by faith is a difficult thing to do. We are typically taught just the opposite. Look both ways before you cross the street. Look before you leap. Keep your eyes open. Watch out. Keep your eye on the ball. Keep a sharp lookout. Keep watch so that you know what’s happening around you. All these things are good advice, especially now-adays in our culture.

In our first reading, God sent Samuel to Bethlehem to anoint a new king for the nation of Israel. It was to be one of Jesse’s sons and God would let Samuel know which one to anoint. Eliab, one of the sons passed by. Surely this was the man to be anointed. But God said to Samuel, “Nope, you’re looking at him as on the throne and how good he may look on a horse ready for battle. He’s not the one.” Six more sons passed before Samuel. The Lord does not want any of these. “Jesse, you got any more sons?” “Yes, I have one more, the youngest, but he’s keeping sheep.” “Well, send for him. We’re not sitting down until he comes.” David, the youngest, came. And even though he was described as having beautiful eyes and was handsome and was described as ruddy, that he had a red complexion, even though he was good to look at, God saw deeper in his soul. “This is the one, anoint him.” “The Lord was looking at his heart.” He was anointed in the presence of his brothers and the spirit of the Lord came upon David.

“For we walk by faith, not by sight.”

The Sower in the gospel reading indiscriminately threw out seed. To him it didn’t matter where they landed. After he was finished, he went to bed, woke up the next morning. This happened for days not being concerned about his seed. The seed finally sprouted, and they grew. They grew and produced a full head of grain. It is harvested. The farmer doesn’t know how this happens, but it did.

“For we walk by faith, not by sight.”

The mustard seed. They are black, brown, or yellow and the different combinations of the three make up different flavors and textures and colors. We use a lot of mustard, especially yellow here in the Dutch Fork area with our bar-b-que sauces. The sauce is usually mustard based with vinegar and other spices as different traditions have come down from families. The seed used to make yellow or brown mustard is a relatively tiny seed several could be placed on your “pinkie” finger. But the seeds grow—they grow large enough birds can find protection in its branches. It’s amazing what such a tiny seed can produce.

“For we walk by faith, not by sight.”

We would rather not do that. That is walk by faith. We want to make sure we can see where we’re going. We want to be in control, we want to make sure we’re in charge. We want to do great things for God instead of allowing God to do great things for and through us. We look for that latest “new thing” that will cause our congregation to grow and thrive. We all want that—growth in attendance and dollars. If we watch our step and our spending, and keep a sharp eye out, we can do what other larger and successful congregations are doing—and then we too, will succeed.

“For we walk by faith, not by sight.”

In a novel by Sinclair Lewis called Elmer Gantry, the main character is a former football player who becomes a very successful minister of a big church in a big city. The minister goes on a speaking tour around the state telling other people how to be as successful as he is. He comes to a small town where he meets Andrew, a pastor in a small congregation who volunteers to put up the famous preacher for the night. The famous preacher sits at the kitchen table, drinking coffee and bragging about all the things he has done and plans to do. Suddenly, Andrew interrupts him, “Why don’t you believe in God?” You see, it was all about what he was doing, not what God was doing through him.

“For we walk by faith, not by sight.”

This is not to say we must do away with good sensible planning. God does not want us to act foolishly. But sometimes the obvious is not the choice that God desires us to make. Sometimes we need to take the choice God leads our hearts to make, because God looks not on the obvious, but on the heart. Samuel, and probably us too, would not have picked David, the shepherd to become king over the Israelites. If we were to plant seeds in hopes of giving shade to birds, our first choice would not be the lowly mustard seed.

“For we walk by faith, not by sight.”

God chooses who he chooses. He sees into the heart and soul of those he desires to fulfil his plan. He desires us to sow the seeds of kindness, and joy, and justice. He desires us to trust these tiny seeds to burst forth into an abundance of love and community, not knowing how, but letting God do the work. It is holding each other’s hands, tightly, trusting the voices that call us. It is to walk by faith, not by sight. We will one day, then move on to sight, the sight of our Lord and savior.