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Faith of A Mustard Seed

by Barbara Woods-Washington

Barbara Woods Washington

Barbara Woods-Washington , M. Div.

Luke’s fourth use of ‘Faith’ in the mouth of Jesus is the triple tradition ‘The Calming Of The Storm’  (Luke 8:22-25).  All three recordings of this pericope are close in detail.  Significant is two dialogical variations: First, in what the disciples say upon waking Jesus and second, what Jesus says in response.  Matthew records the disciples saying, “Save, Lord; we are perishing.” (Matt 8:23-27). Mark records this as a question, “Teacher, do you not care if we perish?” (Mark 4:35-41).  Where Luke records their saying “Master, Master, we are perishing!”  Jesus’ response for all three Gospel writers is in the form of a question: “Why are you afraid, O men of little faith?” (Matthew);  “Why are you afraid?  Have you no faith?” (Mark); and “Where is your faith?” (Luke).

Luke stands alone in ascribing ‘danger’ to the sea’s storm that has risen in this text.  To be sure, all indications are given that the very nature of this storm was so great that the water had already begun to fill the boat.  But the use of ‘ekindunenon/danger’ here by Luke is so rare that the word is not identified in Young’s in it’s Luke occurrence and the only use, one single use given is in Act 19.  Even more unusual is Kittel’s 10 Volume work has total omission of this word ‘ekindunenon/danger’ while it discusses ‘enoxos’ the danger of judgement spoken of in Matthew and the danger of eternal damnation spoken of in Mark.

I can’t help but think about the great storms that have presently become such a phenomenal part of our life and times.  So much has been said in the aftermath of Katrina that, I believe the images to be worth a thousand words in speaking historically about this ‘ekindunenon/danger’.  Outstanding in my mind is the image of the Crescent City Connection bridge where evacuees were met by the shotguns of the Gretna Police Department.  Those chosen and commissioned ‘to protect and to serve’ used the violent forces of (hu)man(ity) to intensify the ‘ekindunenon/danger’.  In the ‘fear for life’ that is inherent in the ‘ekindunenon/danger’ of the sea’s storm, I can only imagine in my mind’s eye the fear of those persons standing on that bridge as they heard gunshots— from police!

The experience of ‘ekindunenon/danger’ has challenged the very moral fiber of this nation.  Arthur, Bertha, Christobal, Dolly, Edouard, Fay, Gustav, Hanna, and Ike are only 9 of the 21 Atlantic storms identified in 2008.  In preparation for this ‘ekindunenon/danger’, thousands of residents of Louisiana were displaced, to Tennessee, Florida, Texas… never to return to the place that they knew as their home.   But I continue to wonder how many, if any, are in Gretna?  For those who shut their hearts and their doors on the ‘love of their neighbor… the other danger, ‘enoxos’ kicks in— ‘will you be ready (when He comes?).

The disciples fear was so great in the midst of this storm of the sea, this ‘ekindunenon/danger’, that they repeated their call out to the Lord— “Master, Master…”  And the response is still the same… “Where Is Your Faith?”

Those of us who are ‘ole school’ gospel music lovers, hold high on the list James Cleveland’s interpretation of this text.  I still have the need to hear him sing— ‘Master, the tempest is raging.  The billows are tossing high.  The sky is all shadowed with blackness.  No shelter on earth is nigh.  Carest Thou not that we perish?  O how can Thy lie asleep?  It seems like each moment so madly is threatening.  A grave in the angry deep.  Get up Jesus…’

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