“Go Small or Go Home”
Twentieth Sunday of Pentecost
First Christian Church
I love riding rollercoasters. I love going at high speeds, being dropped from terrifying heights and basically feeling like you just might lose your life. It’s been wonderful to know that my partner Daniel also loves rollercoasters.
I’ve ridden coasters at different parks around the country, including here in two at ValleyFair and Nickolodeon Universe. But in my humble opinion, there is only one place that is basically rollercoaster heaven. That place is Cedar Point, an amusement park in Sandusky, Ohio, which is about an hour west of Cleaveland. It’s closest amusement park to my hometown of Flint, and people living in Southeastern Michigan travel from Detroit or Lansing or Flint and take the Ohio Turnpike to Cedar Point.
I think at last count, the amusement park has about 16 rollercoasters. Cedar Point is always in an arms race with an amusement park that is part of the Six Flags chain in who has the most rollercoasters. Currently Six Flags Magic Mountain in California has the most with 18 and Cedar Point is tied for second with it’s sister park Canada’s Wonderland with 16 each.
There are some great coasters like Mean Streak which is a wooden coaster that is about a mile long, and Milennial Force, which takes you over 300 feet in the air and then builds to a top speed of 93 miles an hour and their newest, Gatekeep which has the tallest inversion in the world.
But the one coaster you have try once, is Top Thrill Dragster. It is one the tallest and fastest coasters around. You are launched from the station to a top speed of…..120 miles per hour and then zoom straight up 400 feet in the air and then come back down. The whole ride takes 17 seconds. By the
way, Top Thrill Dragster is not the fastest coaster. There is one in the United Arab Emirates that moves at 149 miles per hour. As I said, this is ride you have to try…once.
Cedar Point’s ambiton to build bigger and badder coasters is a remind of how we all tend to look at life. If something is good, then more will be better. So, we make faster coasters, or live in bigger houses, buy fanicier cars and so on.
It’s interesting how this concept of more works its way into church. It’s interesting that a faith that is supposed to be about grace, can become something where you have to have “more” of something in order for it to work. That’s how the disciples were thinking. Jesus had just told them that as followers they needed to be careful to not allow someone to fall into sin, and to forgive. This sounded like an awesome challenge, one that they didn’t think they could meet-at least not with the faith they have. So, they go to Jesus and tell him to increase their faith.
The disciples don’t get it, but then again, I don’t think we would either. We are sometimes left wondering if we have enough faith in God. We even wonder if God is up there listening or not.
Jesus responds by telling them if they have the faith of a tiny mustard seed they could do unimaginable things, like telling a tree to take a jump into the sea.
Jesus seems to flip the script. He’s telling the disciples that they don’t need to believe more, but to use the faith they do have and God will work with that.
God has an interesting preference for small things. In the Old Testament, we meet Gideon who was asked to lead an army to defeat an occupying army. HIs army was only 300 men versus the thousands on the other side. But with God, they were able to prove victorious.
The prophet Samuel was called to find a new king for Israel. He meets the sons of Jesse and finds them all strong and handsome. God ends up choosing the youngest child, David over his older brothers. And God chose a young, poor woman living in Israel when another occupying force, the Romans, were in charge as the one who would give birth to Jesus. God is into using the little we have and performing great works.
Faith isn’t something you need a lot of. A little is enough and remember this, faith isn’t a solitary activity. The reason we gather as church is that we can be faithful when someone is doubting. We can support one another in our daily walks.
One of the things that has amazed me over the last few weeks I have been with you is your faith in God. You might not think much about that, but even though we are few in number, you all continue to be church to stick together. Yes, it would be nice to have more people, but even the faith of a few can do mighty things and I am eager to see how God works with this small flock. I already see it in how you have supported ministries of healing and I think God will do more through us all.
The disciples didn’t need “more” faith. We don’t need more faith. We are called to trust God with the faith we have, that day to day faith the one that makes sandwiches for the poor, or donates items for the foodshelf, and the one that says hello to a stranger. It’s the kind of faith that is present during our potlucks or when we visit a homebound member. It’s not a fancy faith and it may not seem like much, but in Christ it will move mountains.
Monday’s coming. Take your little faith out into the world and see what God is going to with it. Thanks be to God. Amen.
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