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Faith of a mustard seed

by Barbara Woods-Washington

Barbara A. 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).  Looking again at the second ‘Faith̓ event in Acts.

Now in the nominative, faith as ‘a noun’ shifts drastically our understanding of faith in this the second use of ‘pistis/faith̓ in the 2nd faith event of Acts.  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 we can appoint ‘Seven’… to do!

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’.

 ‘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’.

To my surprise this past Easter Sunday, Pastor James Tibbs at St. Theresa called me up to Deliver the Easter Message.  A shock and surprise because in all my 40+ years of Preaching I have never seen a Pastor give up his Easter Proclamation!  Approaching with no Bible, no forewarning… just an ‘unashamed of the Gospel’ Word on the origins of the Christian Faith.  What was new was pointing to individuals throughout the congregation saying to them in a very personal way, “You have divinity!  And you have divinity…!”  Clearly an extension of my ‘Post-Pandemic Church’ belief that Church men and WOMEN must no longer be dependent upon the Pastor/Preacher’s divinity; but an all encompassing seeking to find… their own.

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: myfathersmansionpress@gmail.com

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