“We walk by faith and not by sight.”
With confidence the apostle Paul spoke these words. This was a confidence which could only be achieved through his faith. This faith was planted within him by God, like the smallest mustard grain.
When Saul, as Paul was known before his conversion, made his fateful journey to Damascus, he had only one thing on his mind; to silence those people who called themselves followers of Christ. Saul, in his unbelief, tried to silence the Word of God. He tried to silence the words of that man who spoke like no other person had ever spoken before. For this word, this mustard seed, had been planted in the hearts of those who believed in Christ. And just like the Cedars of Lebanon of which the prophet Ezekiel speaks, just like that mustard plant, the Word was spreading, and growing, and its fruits were evident throughout the entire region.
But Saul tried to silence the word of God because the seed of faith had not yet been planted in him. It was on the road to Damascus that the seed was planted. Saul was knocked to the ground and blinded by the impact of that planting. He heard the words, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?” Although he could not see the person speaking, he knew that it was Jesus Christ and so the seed of faith had been planted.
For several days Saul remained blind, and it wasn’t until Ananias, a follower of Jesus, came to see him that he regained his sight. It was through this that Saul received the name Paul, and he believed in the man who spoke as no one had ever spoken before. And the mustard seed of faith blossomed into one of the largest shrubs of faith which we have today for Paul himself began to speak the word of God. And his letters to the people of Corinth, Phillipi, Rome, Thessalonika, and Ephesus are his legacy of God’s word speaking to us through him.
The seed of faith has been planted within each one of us. For most of us it was not an earth shaking experience like Paul’s. Rather it was probably a quite ordinary experience which most of us do not even remember. The seed of faith was planted within most of us by God at our baptism, just like it will be planted in the heart of Katrina today. God has nurtured and cared for this faith since our birth, pruning away the unhealthy, and feeding the withered branches, so that our faith can continue to grow.
This has happened in my life. The seeds of faith which were planted in my baptism have been nurtured and cared for by God and God’s people. The people of the Church of the Nativity, along with many other people in my life, have worked with God to nurture and care for me and my faith. And it is through this growth that I stand before you today with the confidence of which Paul spoke.
While my time here these past five year has been nurturing and fruitful, my life journey has not always been easy. I have met with pain and discouragement at times. And in those times it seemed that the only thing I had was faith in a God who loves me; a God willing to pour out his life for me on the cross. And this faith gave me the confidence to grow beyond the difficulty.
There are times in each of our lives when we fear that our faith will die completely:
– Events happen
– Words are spoken
– Feelings are hurt
– Lives are changed
And because of these things our lives are never the same again.
In these times we may feel . . . afraid
We may even feel that others are trying to destroy us. We, like Paul, may feel that we have been thrown to the ground and blinded. It is in these times, that in our blindness, we need to walk not by human sight, but by faith in a God who loves us.
As we celebrate this Eucharist today let us give thanks and praise for the gift of faith in our lives. Let us receive the spiritual food we need for our journey, food which helps us see beyond our fear and lack of faith. Let us eat and drink that we may have eyes of faith so that we might see God in one another, until that day when we see God face to face.