Faith of a mustard seed

Barbara Woods Washington

Barbara Woods-Washington, M. Div.

“And the word of God increased, and the number of the disciples multiplied greatly in Jerusalem, and a great many of the priests were obedient to the faith.” (Acts 6:7).Another look at this Faith̓ event in Acts.

Now in the nominative, faith as ‘a noun’ shifts drastically our understanding of faith in this Text on faith. Radical is the transition from faith being ‘something’ that is ‘within a person’, that ‘can be seen’ with a ‘spiritual eye’, and that manifests itself as a ‘power in the healing processes’ of life.It is now for the first time being used to name ‘a thing’— ‘something’ that even The Priests are being persuaded by.

‘Upakouos’, translated by both the King James Version and the Revised Standard Version as ‘obedient’ is actually rooted in the word ‘akouo’— ‘hearing’. Whereas outside of the biblical tradition ‘seeing is believing’ and most all primitive religions give predominance to what ‘the eye sees’ as revelation of the acts and ways of god(s); biblical religions, and those who take root in them, are ‘religions of the word’.Never to overlook or underestimate the importance of ‘seeing’ in Judeo-Christian traditions as we have already witnessed, but, to recognize how the ‘power of hearing’ has now become of ‘critical mass’ in defining this ‘new age faith’.’We need to be able to spend all our time on ‘the word’, the Apostles bemoaned, we don’t have time to do what ‘Seven’ can be doing!

“The Homiletic” – The Preaching in the African American Church has gotten Louder and LOUDER… ‘Turnt Up!So much so that as the elders say, “I can’t hear myself… THINK”! Sunday after Sunday I find myself LOST in the Preaching when, after it is done, I realize that this Preacher was “Talking Loud and Saying… NOTHING”! Most Sunday Church dwellers have the most difficult time when asked “What was the Sermon about?”

I remember with fondness, coming out of Chapel one day during my 2nd year in seminary when the late great Dr. Isaac Clark grabbed me by my arm and started walking with me.I was studying Delivery of Sermons from Dr. Mance Jackson and had no clue that Dr. Clark had been behind the ‘notorious one way glass’ when I delivered my sermon.He said to me while walking with me that day, “Young lady, your delivery is awesome.I could sit and listen to you preach all day.Now when you get the story right, they will have to give you a pulpit.” He awarded me a Clark scholarship and began the one-on-one Preaching Tutorial to teach me how to ‘get the story right’.

Early in my Pastoral Homiletic life, I was fretful at how quiet the congregation was in response to the Word Proclamation. At the door parishioners began to make me understand that they were “hearing themselves… THINK”! Now I am convinced that the silence when I’m preaching is a REALly Good thing. Most especially when ‘at the door handshakes’ are an exchange of power that is… Lasting!

‘Upakouos’ then, is a rarely used form of ‘hearing’ which denotes those who stand in a ‘divinely willed relationship’— always expressions of morality and religion. It is further clarified by Jesus’ teaching in ‘The Parable Of The Sower’ where the Word is like a seed that falls on all kinds of ground. When the ‘Word gets right’, it has power to provoke faith with ‘comes by hearing’.

The Priest, though by now in this Greco-Roman world are not exclusively Hebrew, are they that have made life commitments to the study, teaching and transmission of chosen faith traditions. Some were even born into the priesthood as Levites, inheriting this moral and religious life’s commission. But, there was ‘something being said’, preached, proclaimed by the Apostles and Disciples of what is now becoming a religious institution— distinguishable enough for Priest to have a ‘change of heart’ while ‘hearing’ and becoming obedient to this faith.

by email: mustardseedfaith@outlook.com

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