Thursday, October 6, 2016

Bishop’s Note: October 6, 2016 – Increase Our Faith

Bishop Eric Menees

In the gospel this past Sunday we heard the Apostles appeal to Jesus saying, “Lord, increase our faith.” What an interesting and important petition that is. In fact, one might argue that it is second only to Jesus’ prayer to his Father in the Garden of Gethsemane: “Not my will but yours be done.”

Of course, I believe that Jesus’ response to the Apostles petition was not what they expected. You see, they had witnessed, over and over again, people coming to Jesus, making a petition, and seeing it granted. Remember when the leper petitioned Jesus? “Lord, if you will, you can make me clean.” “I will, be clean.” (Mark 1:41-42) But to the apostles Jesus responds rather cryptically: “If you had faith like a grain of mustard seed, you could say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted and planted in the sea,’ and it would obey you." (Luke 17:6) Jesus’ response makes it almost sound like faith can be measured - as if you could put it in a beaker and measure its volume, density, and weight. However, faith is not a material possession at all – it is a spiritual gift given by the Lord to his adopted children. Perhaps the petition for us Christians should not be so much, “Increase our faith” as, “Lord, help us to exercise our faith.” However, just like praying for patience, we should be careful in making that petition, because the Lord will grant our petition and offer us opportunities to exercise that faith!

Over the past eight years we’ve had countless opportunities to exercise our faith, but none more than this very moment in our life as a diocese; as we step out of our beloved church buildings into the unknown, faith is required. Thankfully, while our faith may waver from time to time, the Lord’s faith in us never wavers! Over and over again we are seeing the Lord’s gracious and abundant provision made evident. St. James’, Fresno, stepped away from their buildings, and Campus Bible Church opened her doors to say, “Come on in.” Tuesday night, I was with St. Francis, Stockton, for the celebration of their patronal feast. St. Francis worships in a converted Methodist fellowship hall, which, even though very simple, is nicer than anything Jesus worshiped in, save the Temple. How moving it was to have the entire congregation participate in the renewal of baptismal vows and come forward for the laying on of hands and prayer. What a beautiful example of the exercise of faith they have been over the past two years since leaving their church buildings.

I pray you all a very blessed week!

Catechism Questions: 338-339
338. Does Christ's obedience excuse you from personal obedience?
No. Obedience is always due to God as our Father, Lord, and Creator. Despite my sin and weakness, I should strive always to obey him, looking to Jesus for salvation and to the Holy Spirit for strength. (John 14:15-16, 23-24)

339. What is the first benefit of Christ’s sacrifice?
My sins are forgiven when I confess them and ask for pardon through Christ’s shed blood. I live by being forgiven. (1 John 1:8-9; Hebrews 9:11-12)

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