Year C Proper 22 Luke 17
Three Small Steps In Our Journey of Faith
Luke 17:5-10

One day the great Michelangelo attracted a crowd of spectators as he worked. One child in particular was fascinated by the sight of chips flying and the sound of mallet on chisel. The master was shaping a large block of white marble. Unable to contain her curiosity, the little girl inquired, "What are you making?" He replied, "There is an angel in there and I must set it free."

Every Christian at their confirmation or conversion is handed a large cold white marble block called religion. We must then take the mallet in hand and set to work. Religion is not our goal but we must first start there. Now there are many names for religion. At times we do call it religion but we often use other words and images to describe it. Sometimes we call it our faith. Jesus spoke in terms of the Kingdom of God. We say we are the Church, Christians, or Disciples. There are many names with varying nuances of meaning but in the end they all describe the same thing. We are a people of Faith, faith in Christ to be sure, but faith nonetheless.

We are not a business or institution. We do not sell or produce anything. We advocate no earthly cause. We serve no worldly authority. We come to a church building made by men. And to do what? Practice our faith. But we just as well could have met on a hillside or cave.

Our leader is not here, not so that I can show him to you or offer irrefutable evidence of his existence. That means faith is all we have. We are born through faith, live by faith, and die in faith. After my death, then and only then will I know in full, as the Apostle Paul says, when I see Jesus face to face. Until then I had better understand this religion thing.

Now that sounds pretty daunting doesn’t it? Here’s the good News. It’s not all that difficult. Religion is a marble slab and we have to find, like Michelangelo, the angel inside. Chisel with me a few minutes this morning and let the chips fly, and let’s find the faith that lives inside. Faith: it is the angel of our religion. Faith can set us free if we know how to live it. How do you practice your faith and not just religion? Jesus outlined faith in Luke 17. He explained there are three simple ways to exercise faith. Three small steps make up our journey of faith.

  1. First, forgiving those who repent.
  2. Second, believing just a little.
  3. And third, serving as a duty.

Acquired Taste
2 Timothy 1: 1-14

Some of you here this morning remember when "TV dinners" were fast food. Those were the days . . . when Sara Lee sold frozen baked goods to families with the double negative promise "Nobody doesn't like Sara Lee." They were right. What wasn't to like? Sweet treats like cheesecake and pies and cakes–-even frozen cubes of white dough that magically morphed in the oven into hot cubes of white bread.

Check out any freezer case in the supermarket these days and what do you find? A lot more than simple Sara Lee goodies. As time has changed, so have our tastes. There is more than pizza and chicken nuggets in our freezers. There are whole sections of vegetarian and vegan offerings, Thai food, Mexican fiestas, panini sandwiches, Buffalo wings, Szechuan spicy noodles.

That is not to say everybody likes all these foods. Some cuisines are definitely an acquired taste.

Think about some of the foods you've learned to enjoy, even though their first trip into your mouth might have been less than pleasant. Here is a recent list of the Top Ten "acquired tastes" in food: Raw oysters, Coffee, Alcohol, Kimchi, Anchovies, Olives, Lutefisk, Haggis, Vegemite, Blue Cheese

I don't know about you, but as far as I'm concerned the delicacy known as an "oyster shooter"—a raw oyster spiced with Tabasco and lemon and tossed down in a single gulp—looks like something that should be disposed of discretely in a tissue, not put into your mouth.

Or remember your first cup of coffee? Bitter and biting, no matter how much milk and sugar you dumped into it. And why is it that the chunk of cheese that accidentally got lost in the bottom of the fridge for a month is stinky garbage, while you pay... presents Leonard Sweet