Church begins each Sunday at 10:30 a.m.
Children's Sunday School begins following the Children's Sermon in the Sanctuary.
Choir practice begins at 9:00 a.m. (9th grade and up welcome)
Faith and Justice Adult Sunday School begins at 9:00 a.m.
Communion is held each Sunday and all are invited to God's Table
to share in the meal.
Click here to see a current sermon.
Nursery care will be available to those 5 and under during the service.
There is always a coffee/fellowship time in the Narthex following the service.
You are invited to join us!
Joyful Noise Children's Choir (1st through 8th grade) - Thursday evening 6:00 - 6:45, Room 5
From September till May Children's Sunday School will take place during worship following the Children's Sermon.
Children will leave from the sanctuary following the Children's Time.
November 26 - Book Club, noon in Library
November 28 - Thanksgiving Day
November 30 - Serve Poverello Lunch
December 1 - Advent Event following church
December 1 - last day to bring gifts for Blackfoot Parish
December 1-15 Collecting items for Toilet Trees
December 5 - UMW at 1:00. Bring stickers for missionary
December 8 - Children's Christmas Pageant during worship
December 8 - SERVV Sale
December 8-15 Family Promise
December 13 - Friday Night Out at Bob and Dorothy Avery's home at 6:30
December 15 - SERVV Sale and UMW Candy sale following church
December 15 - JuBELLation Christmas Concert at 4:00
December 17 - Amazing Grays Christmas party at 6:00
December 22 - John Floridis Concert at 4:00
December 24 - Christmas Eve Services at 4:30 and 7:00
January 17-18 FUMC Disncerment and Visioning
Faith and Justice class, Sundays 9:00 to 10:15
Chancel Choir, Sundays, 9:00 to 10:15
JuBELLation, Wednesdays 6-8 p.m.
FUMY, Wednesdays, 7:00 to 8:30 p.m.
Joyful Noise Children's Choir, Thursdays, 6:00 to 6:45 p.m.
For a complete details of all that is happening
this month in our church click on
the Tower Tidings Newsletter
Interested in online adult classes? Click on UMC classes for more information.
The Book of Discipline is available online for your study and review: The Book of Discipline Index, The Book of Discipline Part 1,
The Book of Discipline Part 2 and The Book of Resolutions 2012 Part III.
Office phone and E-mail contact information on the CONTACT US PAGE.
Please let the office know if you or someone in our church family needs a visit in the hospital or at home. (406) 549-6118.
Office Hours (subject to change - call 549-6118 before coming in or to make an appointment with the pastor)
Monday - Thursday: 9:00 a.m. - 12:30 p.m.
Daylight savings time ends the first Sunday in November and begins the second Sunday in March
Barry Padget, Pastor
Sharon Jackson and Rhanda Johnson, Administrative Assistants
Leslie Lindley, Treasurer
Kay Duffield, Financial Secretary
John Schaff, Custodian
Nursery Attendants, Faye Gibson (Choir practice / 9:00 Sunday School) and
Audra Clark & Juliette Viera ( 10:30 Worship / Children's Sunday School)
Junior Nursery Attendants: Madison Lightfield, Austin Skinner, Kade Hedahl and Sophia Clark
Greg Boris, Music Director and Chancel Choir Director
Peter Edwards, Pianist/Organist
Joanna Jennings Wallenborn, Handbell Choir Director
Rhanda Johnson, Joyful Noise Director
The life of our church includes:
Adult Spiritual Growth
U of M Wesley Foundation
Foundation - donations and scholarships
UMW - United Methodist Women
UMM - United Methodist Men
Social Action - Family Promise, Habitat for Humanity, Intermountain, Poverello
Walk to Emmaus
First Church loves music and hopes you will come not only to listen but to participate in it! We sing hymns as well as praise songs, often have special music and enjoy all three of our choirs. Choirs practice from September till May.
We love those who volunteer to provide special music during the summer. Call the office if you would like to bless us with your music.
FUMC Chancel Choir will begin the fall season on Sunday Sept. 11th. Enthusiasm and love of music a must. Previous experience is not required. Choir meets Sundays only at 9:00 a.m. before service. All are welcome. Please join us! For more information talk to choir director Greg Boris.
JuBELLation Handbell Choir
Interested in learning/playing a new musical instrument? JuBELLation Handbell Choir, based at The First United Methodist Church, is looking for individuals interested in learning or experienced at playing handbells this season! There are several ways to get involved and be part of this fun group! Openings include: Full Time, Part Time, and On-call positions.
Please contact Brynn Bellingham to discuss what options might work best for you.
Joyful Noise Children's Choir
All children from the 1st through the 8th grade are welcome to participate in making a Joyful Noise. During the school year they participate in worship once a month and rehearse on Thursdays from 6:00 - 6:45 p.m. Contact Rhanda Johnson in the office for more information.
Adult Spiritual Growth Groups Do you feel like you are on a spiritual journey? We hope you will allow us to walk with you on this journey and together we will find the answers to our questions. Classes meet on Sunday mornings year round. During the summer the Faith and Justice class will meet at 8:15. In the fall other adult groups tackle specific topics of interest to the spiritual life of today's Christian.
Interested in online classes? Click on UMC classes for more information.
Sunday School meets during the worship service, right after Children's Time and is for Preschool - 6th grade. Our Rock Solid program is a
Bible study that enables children to experience God through Jesus Christ. Activities will include stories, crafts, music and scripture.
Call the church office (549-6118) for more information. Nursery care is available for those not ready for preschool.
You can watch a You Tube video of a Puppet show given for the children during church.
First United Methodist Youth Fellowship (FUMY)
7th through 12th grade students meet most Wednesday evenings from 7:00 - 8:30 p.m. from September until May.
They do service projects, make discoveries about themselves and others, and have fun!
Wesley Foundation - University of Montana Campus Ministry
The University of Montana Wesley House is located across the street from the campus and Miller Hall at 1327 Arthur Avenue.
College students and visitors are welcomed to stop by for a visit. Sunday evenings are family style dinners and Thursday evenings are a Bible Study.
For more information E-mail the Wesley House or Phone: (406) 274-3346.
Join us on
Local Churches: Please send the names of U of M students from your local church to the Wesley Foundation
so they can be invited to join the Wesley House activities. Students are encouraged to attend either First or Grace UMC in Missoula.
United Methodist Women
Our UMW is part of the Yellowstone Conference and you can find information
on Conference and District UMW activities on the conference web page.
The Conference covers Montana, 1/2 Wyoming and a slice of Idaho.
UMW is open to any woman who would enjoy the companionship of other women and is someone who is dedicated to supporting
missions near and far. Click here for YOUR INVITATION to join.
UMW raises money for mission projects locally, in Montana, nationally and globally. UMW meets the first Thursday Oct-Dec and Feb-April. All meetings are at 11:30 for a simple luncheon, program and business meeting except March 14th at 1:00 P.M. Other activities include: February 13th Ash Wednesday Souper Supper, March 16th Flea Market, June 9th Rhubarb Goodies Plus sale, in July families will attend a community band concert at Bonner Park, September Swap Meet and Get to know UMW evening, October Apple Pie sales, and December15th Candy Sale. Contact President Ellie Barnes 549-1384 for more information.
First Church also has UMW Fellowship Groups which meet once a month. Nothing compares to a small supportive group of women!
GEMS Fellowship meets the third Thursday at 7:00 p.m. in the church library Sept. - May
This group of working women is particularly interested in the UMW Reading program and are supportive of one another.
Chair: Laela Shimer 721-1960
L.A.N.S. Fellowship meets the second Monday at 11:30 a.m. for lunch at a restaurant from Sept-Dec and Feb-May.
They are women Living Actively in the New Society. They are interested in social action in the community as well as fellowship.
contact: Ellie Barnes 549-1384 or Peg Plimpton 542-1543
Ruth Fellowship meets the second Thursday at 10:00 a.m. in the church parlor Oct. - May
They invite you to come and share their fellowship, a monthly program, and outreach to church members who need a little TLC.
Chair: Ellen Stubblefield 728-2115
Vespers Fellowship meets the third Wednesday at 1:00 in homes Sept. - May
They have been meeting together for a long time which has led to many long friendships. They invite you to their program and meeting.
Chair: Dorothy Avery 549-7117
Book Group meets the fourth Thursday at noon in the church library year round
Chair: Jackie Krahn 543-3979
Knitting Group meets on Saturdays at 10:00 in homes year round.
Chair: Carole Addis 721-1817
Quilting and Crafts Group meets as the need arises for mission projects.
Chair: Kay Norum 721-5750.
Stephen Ministry Church
We participate in Stephen Ministries, where trained Stephen Ministers walk with those whose lives are in turmoil for one reason or another.
Stephen Ministers also help with prayer requests each Sunday and serve communion. Anyone in our church family can request a Stephen Minister for themselves. A new class will be starting in January to train Stephen Ministers. Members of the congregation are encouraged to consider doing the 50-hours of training and helping others in this way. As a Stephen Minister you often find satisfaction in your own life as you nurture your care receiver. What is a Stephen Minister?
Call Kay at 543-6722 or Peg at 542-1543 for more information.
The Amazing Grays are a group of church members who have been blessed with some gray hairs. They get together once a month for companionship and an enjoyable time. They go out to dinner, have a pot-luck and game night at the church, a holiday party or sometimes make a day trip by bus to some place in Montana. Friends are always welcome. Rides will be provided for those who no longer drive. Participants may sign up following church for the current activities.
Missoula First United Methodist Church Foundation:
Donations and bequests to the Foundation are used for charitable giving, scholarships and fulfilling the church's mission. Brochure with more information on charitable giving and bequests to the Foundation is available by clicking on Foundation Brochure.
Foundation Scholarships: The Foundation offers two scholarships each Spring. The Foundation Scholarship is for an active member of our church and The Katie Payne Scholarship is for a woman pursuing a nursing or medical arts career or a career in law, government or public service. Click on the blue scholarship name above for the application.
The packet containing your application, transcript, and letters of recommendation must be postmarked April 15th or earlier.
Walk to Emmaus Fourth Day groups for men and women also meet at the church.
Walk to Emmaus weekends for men and women are held each spring. Please check out the Walk website at: www.WesternMTWalk.com.
Members from other Walk communities are welcome and encouraged to help with the Walks, come to Gatherings and join 4h Day groups. More Emmaus Community Information from Upper Room.
First United Methodist Church of Missoula is part of 19+ churches who are working to house 3-4 homeless families with children. For more information or to volunteer please contact Barbara Blanchard Mahoney at 493-6713 or go to their website: http://familypromisemissoula.net/
I was hungry and you fed me...
Come feed God's people lunch 4 or 5 times a year at the Poverello Center.
We work at the Pov whenever there is a 5th Saturday.
Call the church office to sign up (549-6118).
We are a church partner with Missoula's Habitat for Humanity We invite you to join us for a work day! Contact the office at 549-6118 for more information.
We care about others. We participate in giving relief to victims of natural disasters through UMCOR. Our church gives generously to those affected by natural disasters like Hurricane Katrina and the tsunami and will continue to support UMCOR when it heads to new disasters.
We also give to local agencies such as Poverello and The Salvation Army, to state agencies such as the Blackfeet Parish and the Intermountain Home in Helena, to national missions through apportionments, and globally we are also supporting a pastor in Angola with a monthly check. We are also a Jubilee Church.
Intermountain is a nationally accredited non-profit organization. They provide mental health and
educational services to effectively meet the diverse needs of children and families facing emotional challenges. Their primary services include: residential treatment, community-based services, and community trainings. Operating for more than 100 years, Intermountain is one of Montana’s oldest child welfare agencies.
November 3, 2013 Up a Tree Luke 19:1-10
If you look at the television screen closest to you, you’ll see a picture of Zacchaeus up a tree trying to see Jesus. Actually it is not exactly considered a picture. It is an icon, a type of highly stylized and symbolic art common in Orthodox Christian churches. Now icons are not drawn or painted exactly. Iconographers are said to write Icons. The idea is that an icon is much more than a picture. An icon is meant to draw one in, to tell a story, to engage the imagination. Icons are often used as the focus of prayers and meditation as a way of opening oneself up to God.
The story of Zacchaeus is a popular one. Of all of those bible stories you learned as a kid in Sunday school, this will be one that you will remember. You might have even learned the song about it, something about Zacchaeus, the wee little man who went up a tree to see Jesus.
What we actually know about Zacchaeus is that he was certainly a short man, not tall enough to see Jesus with the crowd in his way. What we also know about him is that he wasn’t a very popular man in Jericho. He was the town’s chief tax collector. Now tax collectors weren’t any more popular then than now. You’ve the one about the terrorist who high jacked a whole planeload of IRS agents and threatened to release one every hour until his demands were met. Actually I had a friend of mine who was an IRS agent and lots of times it wasn’t a very pleasant job, if nothing else you discover how dishonest people can be, even ministers. Well, the people of Jesus time really hated tax collectors. People like Zacchaeus contracted with the Romans to collect the taxes from the people, but of course because they worked for the Roman Occupation they were considered collaborators. It was as if they had disavowed their Jewish heritage and gone over to the other side. They were cut off from Jewish society and virtually excommunicated from Jewish religious services. They were considered the worst of sinners because they did it for the money. And money he did have. He was very rich, but with few friends.
They were also considered cheats, taking more than they were supposed to. I suspect this wasn’t true, the Romans didn’t like people stealing in their name, but it was another reason not to like tax collectors.
Zacchaeus was a man up a tree in many ways. And so this day the people had gathered to see Jesus, this famous young rabbi who was stirring up the countryside. Now Jericho is one of the oldest cities on earth. It is very close to the Dead Sea about 15 miles from Jerusalem. It is surrounded by some serious desert, but Jericho itself is an oasis, an island of luxurious green thanks to a huge spring know as Ezekiel’s well. By the way, should you every go there, do not drink the water, take my word of this, not a good idea.
Nonetheless, Jesus comes to Jericho and as he enters the town, Zacchaeus finds himself caught behind all these tall people. And for whatever reason, so desperate is he to see Jesus for himself, even though he is dressed in fine robes, a man of some dignity one would suppose, he climbs up a tree, a sycamore tree, and from it spreading branches not only sees Jesus, Zacchaeus is seen by Jesus.
Looking up in the tree, Jesus says, “Zacchaeus, hurry up and come down; for I must stay at your house today.” Zaccheaus hurried down and was happy to welcome Jesus. The people in the crowd are aghast, like Jesus has lost his mind here. “He has gone to the guest of a sinner.” Make that sinner in capital letters. Zacchaeus, however is profoundly changed by this encounter with Jesus, saying to him that because of Jesus interest in him, he will give away half of all he owns to the poor. Now this is serious money here. Not only that, if he has ever cheated anyone, he will repay them 4 times as much in return. And then Jesus says, “Today salvation has come to this house, because he too is a son of Abraham. For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.
What do we need to hear in this story? Well, first this story says something very profound about God, and the depths of God’s love for us. The fact is that it is true; Zacchaeus is a bad guy, who will do what it takes to get more money, the worst of sinners. The good news is that God loves him anyway. What I have learned in my time as a minister is that there are a lot of people out there who do not believe that God loves them. Sometimes they are perfectly obvious and sometimes they are the people you would least expect to think God would not care for them. And the problem is that they are wrong. If God can love Zacchaeus, God can love everyone and does. And it is our job to tell them it is true.
The second thing this story says is that people really are looking for Jesus and not only that, Jesus is looking for them too. Zacchaeus is willing to toss aside whatever smidgeon of dignity he may have to climb that tree and see Jesus for real. It is an opportunity he knows deep in his heart he cannot afford to miss. I love that icon because Jesus and all the disciples have halos, Jesus has the fanciest one of course, and the disciples are a little less fancy, but doggone, if Zacchaeus doesn’t have a halo too; not very fancy; sort of a starter halo, but a halo nonetheless, as if his determination to not let this precious moment go by, but to see Jesus, places him on the path to a better life, a life that follows Jesus, places him in the company of the rest of those folks who have halos. And Jesus sees him, and Jesus doesn’t invite Zacchaeus into his life, Jesus invites himself into Zacchaeus life.
And the third thing this story says that we cannot miss, is that Jesus in your life changes things. I mean, Zacchaeus has one meal with Jesus and suddenly he’s the one person United Way of Jericho. He goes from being someone who sees people as someone to fleece to actual people and Zacchaeus wants to make a difference in their lives and he does really beyond belief. That is the thing with faith. If it is real, it makes a difference in who you are. I was thinking about Mickey Cohen, the Los Angeles Mobster who was saved at a Billy Graham Crusade. A little while later someone asked why if he was a Christian was he still being a mobster. His reply, "Well, they didn’t tell me I’d have to give up my job. And my friends.” Actually, that is sort of the point of being a Christian, it changes you, and if it doesn’t, or if it just changes your words, you might have reason to wonder if it is real. Well, no question, for Zacchaeus. Jesus was right, today, salvation has come to this house, and Zacchaeus proved it.
There is a tree in Jericho that is supposedly the tree that Zacchaeus climbed. It is big with wide branches that spread out over the street. And it is old, but probably not that old. It doesn’t matter. It serves as a good symbol of a man who was up a tree, like maybe some of us are, and when Jesus brought him down from that tree and came into his life, it changed him, and a lot of other peoples lives too. That is what Jesus can do for all of us too.
October 18, 2013 To Pray Always and Not to Lose Heart Luke 18:1-8
In just a couple of weeks, we can all expect to hear nighttime visitors knocking at our doors. They will not be dressed as your typical visitors and though you might know them well, they will be deliberately hiding their identities behind masks. They will be shamelessly demanding, threatening vague but terrifying consequences if their extortion does not succeed and they will be extremely persistent. They probably won’t even say thank you, unless their parents remind them.
I know, I know, they sound a lot like our congressmen of late, but in reality they will be just be children trick or treating. They will actually be carrying on a quite ancient tradition that began in the middle ages called “souling.” On Halloween, or All Hallows Eve, that is the night before All Hallows day or what is now know as all Saints or All Souls Day, the poor would go “souling”, going from house to house asking for food in exchange for their prayers for the dead on All Saints Day. It was an interesting tradition since it reminded both the poor and the rich of their need for each other, and that everyone, rich and poor could be a conduit of God’s grace to each other both by sharing their prayers and sharing their wealth.
It might be somewhat of a stretch but it got me to thinking about the scripture for today and the parable of the widow and the unjust judge for they too became a conduit of grace to each other, actually whether the judge liked it or not. Jesus tells his disciples a parable about and I love this phrase, “their need to pray always and not to lose heart.” It is an important thing to hear, of our need to pray and not to lose heart. They seem to go together, prayer and perseverance. And without one it is hard to hold fast to the other.
And so Jesus begins by saying that in a certain city there was a judge who neither feared God nor had respect for people. What Jesus is saying is that the judge was shameless. He took bribes and gave favors to people of position and power. He had no conscience nor was the law getting in his way. He was out to fill his pockets and to gain recognition from the powerful and he was doing a pretty good job of this.
And then one day there was a widow who appeared in his court, demanding the justice she so richly deserved. However, she was poor. She had no money for a bribe. Helping her was not going to make the Judges life better. The judge ignored her. The only problem was that the widow wouldn’t go away. She kept coming back crying out for justice. Finally the judge decides he is never going to get rid of this little old lady. He says to himself, “Though I have no fear of God and no respect for anyone, yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will grant her justice so that she will not wear me out by continually coming.” The literal translation for the phrase “so she will not wear me out” is so she won’t keep hitting me in the face. One version even translates it, “so she won’t give me a black eye.” This, of course, is exactly what she is doing, giving the judge who is supposed to be all about justice here, an embarrassing black eye in the eyes of the public.
Jesus continues, “Listen to what the unjust judge says. And will not God grant justice to his chosen ones who cry to him day and night? Will he delay long in helping them? I tell you, he will quickly grant justice to them.”
What this parable says, is: The unjust judge is sort of a symbol for the world, the real world where justice and righteousness lots of times take second place to greed and self-interest. It is just the way the world is. If Christianity, let alone justice or compassion, is going to make any difference in this world, we will have to do two things. The first is pray, remembering that we are not alone, God is on our side here, and the second thing is to persevere, in other words, don’t get tired and go away just because things get hard.
To pray and to persevere; how do you do that? We don’t have to have all the answers but we do have to have faith. Robert McAfee Brown tells about the time at the height of the United States involvement in Vietnam in the 1960s, when he and a group of clergy managed to secure an appointment with Henry Kissinger, the Secretary of state at the time. Kissinger took them seriously, and as it became obvious that the clergy were asking for the withdrawal of our troops, Kissinger challenged them on the complexities of such a withdrawal, asking, "So just how would you get the boys out of Vietnam?" William Sloane Coffin, then chaplain at Yale University responded: "Mr. Kissinger, our job is to proclaim that 'justice must roll down like water, and righteousness like a mighty stream.' Your job, Mr. Kissinger, is to work out the details of the irrigation system." And eventually he did.
Maybe one more thing, and that is to recognize that with God, things can happen that we might never believe possible. There is a book called “The Phantom Toll Booth” by Norton Juster. It is supposedly a children’s book but it should be required reading for all adults.
In the book, Milo embarks on a quest to rescue the exiled princesses, Rhyme and Reason. At the conclusion, returning successful after battling a delightful array of monsters such as the Senses Taker and the Terrible Trivium, he is greeted by a cheering crowd and a joyous parade in his honor. But Milo is reluctant to take credit.
"But I could never have done it," he objected, "without everyone else's help."
"That may be true," said [Princess] Reason gravely, "but you had the courage to try; and what you can do is often simply a matter of what you will do."
"That's why," said Azaz, "there was one very important thing about your quest that we couldn't discuss until you returned."
"I remember," said Milo eagerly. "Tell me now."
"It was impossible," said the king, looking at the Mathematician.
"Completely impossible," said the Mathematician, looking at the king.
"Yes, indeed," they repeated together; "but if we'd told you then, you might not have gone - and, as you've discovered, so many things are possible just as long as you don't know they're impossible."
Funny, that is what God thinks too. The followers of Jesus have always a completely impossible task, to change the world for God. The fact is the world is a tough place, full of people like this unjust judge who wish people like us would just go away. And so like the disciples, we continue to pray and hope and not lose heart, and never ever give up and never go away. That is what God wants from us, to be a persistent conduit of Grace and compassion to a world lacking in both. It could change everything.
October 6, 2013 Red Bull Religion Luke 17:5-10
I saw an ad just the other day for Red Bull, the energy drink, and how it was supposed to give you wings. Yeah, I had a Red Bull once, and let me tell you it was only once. It didn’t give me wings. It gave me the heebie jeebies for hours. I thought I was never going to get my brain back in my head. And now I look with a new respect at those 20 something’s at 8 in the morning driving to work sucking down a red Bull. Those people are going to be awake all day and then some. Seriously, if you are part of the 21c generation, in spite of all the coffee shops in this town, chances are the way you will probably get that jolt to pick you up in the morning will be a quick can of Red Bull, or Monster, or Piranha or Amp. There is even a drink called A New York Minute.
These sugar packed and caffeine fortified drinks have become the fastest growing segment of the soft drink market, more than a billion dollars in sales this year. Surveys show that even at 3 dollars a can at least 22 percent of college students are slurping down these drinks. There are now over 300 brands of energy drinks, though Red bull still leads the pack. The real attraction, well, if you have ever had one, it is probably not the taste. Actually, Red Bull sort of tastes like liquefied Sweet Tarts. No, it is the secret ingredient, Taurine, which is some kind of nonessential amino acid that is supposed to be like caffeine on steroids. Taurine sounds like Taurus, thus the name Red Bull. Nobody knows what Taurine really does. Possibly it is a lot of bull.
What is clear is what Red Bull claims its drink can do. Here are just a few of the rather vaguely stated “benefits” of chugging it down:
• Improves performance
• Improves concentration and reaction speed
• Improves vigilance
• Improves emotional status. What does this mean?
• Stimulates metabolism. It does that for sure.
The question is, what are people looking for when they drink Red Bull, or any of the other energy drinks? Obviously, most are looking for the same thing people drink coffee for, a little lift during the day. But apparently, a lot of folks believe the hype and while the effect is purely psychological, people expect Red Bull to do more than just a plain old cup of coffee, and so it does.
I was thinking of the disciples who come to Jesus and cry out, “Increase our faith!” There is certain desperateness to their plea, as if Jesus is asking from them something that is beyond their ability, and in order to do this they are going to need more a little boost, at least a secret ingredient, sort of like a religious version of Red Bull.
It is certainly true, Jesus is asking for a lot here. They are right; he is asking them to love people they would normally hate. He is asking them to forgive people who have hurt them time and again. He’s asking them to feed the hungry, and to work for justice in the world. He’s asking these simple fishermen from Galilee to change the world. They might need a little more than a red Bull for this. They are pretty much panicked, wondering how this is all going to happen, without a thimble-full of faith between them.
Jesus doesn’t seem terribly concerned. I kind of get a kick out of Jesus response. He is not reprimanding them asking them for just a little more faith. He says if you had the faith of a mustard seed, and for Pete’s sake, everybody has that much faith, you could change the world. Fred Craddock, one of my favorite preachers says Jesus is talking about the potential even a Mustard seed has. Craddock writes, "[The] mustard weed was the scourge of farmers in Palestine. It grew wild. Birds would ingest but not entirely digest its seeds and drop them everywhere. It would take over fields and vineyards. . . .Pulling it up did little good, because more birds would just bring more seed from somewhere else, and you'd be back in the same place in a few weeks." In other words, what Jesus is saying is that add your faith to God’s grace, and God and you are unstoppable. Working with God you will see things happen that will be as unbelievable as planting this mulberry tree in the middle of the sea.
And no, it is not just about having a positive attitude; it is about believing in the power of God and simply acting on it. Not long ago was the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King’s I have a dream speech. As part of the series of programs during that week, they also talked about the last speech he gave before his tragic death. It was almost a premonition but also a statement that faith in God has a power beyond us. King said, “And I have seen the Promised Land. And I may not get there with you. But I want you to know tonight that we as a people will get to the Promised Land. So I’m happy tonight. I’m not worried about anything. I’m not fearing any man. Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord. I have a dream that the brotherhood of man will become a reality. With this faith, we will be able to achieve this new day, when all of God’s children—black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics—will be able to join hands and sing with the Negroes in the spiritual of old, “Free at last, Free at last, ……Thank God almighty we are free at last.”
Now there are some of you who remember the days of segregation who know what an enormous mountain that was to be moved, and still is in some ways. That mountain was moved more than we ever thought posssible, and it happened Dr King and those who followed him prayed that it be moved and it was.
Jesus wanted his disciples to understand that faith is a powerful force. But it was not about the size of their faith, but the size of their God. A little faith in a great God can change the world. Faith is simply a matter of aligning our lives with the purposes of God in the same as a magnet in a compass aligns itself with the North Pole. What direction does God want our lives to point? It does seem like a big task, and the disciples cry “Increase our faith.” And the response of Jesus seems pretty simple, when he asks them to use the faith they have. It was not the size of their faith that counted; it was the size of their God. And so it is for us as well.