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Faith of A Mustard Seed

by Barbara Woods-Washington
Barbara A. Woods Washington, M. Div.

For those who are recently joining me in this faith journey a lot has taken place in these 17 years. Now I want to do a small recap of where we have come from since writing my very first statement.  To begin here, I deliver my insistence for writing in ‘First Person’. I suspect that the grammar protocol of writing in ‘third person’ is a ground zero for many who naturally reject hearing writing in first person. I have come to appreciate most greatly of all written genres… ‘The Autobiography’.  The “I Am Sayings” in John’s Gospel is for me a valuable text of Jesus’ autobiographical truth.  Thousands of ‘biographies’ bear ‘witness’ to a person’s life story.  Never to compare to a “Testimony” of life experience.  The former: Education.  The latter: Knowledge.

My First Column in this space, March 23, 2007 IS Autobiographical in context.  The initial conversation with the late Geraldine Heath lead me to only 1 conclusion —I would write on “Faith”!  Not as “the substance of things hoped for… to the Hebrews”, but, “what does Jesus say to the man whose back is against the wall… the Disinherited” Howard Thurman.

Soon to discover the various words… all translated ‘faith’ in English.  To ‘revealed faith’ that Jesus uses the word “pistis” most all times where he speaks about faith.  By October 2007, this “Faith of a Mustard Seed” study had led me through the Book of Matthew.

As a summary of the use of ‘pistis/faith’ in Matthew’s Gospel, Young’s Analytical Concordance identified eight (8) uses of this form in Matthew and all eight are found in the mouth of Jesus.  It is exclusively ‘red letter’—  as the popular song goes “He said it, I believe it.  I’m gonna take Him at His Word!”

First, Jesus said to those who followed him in response to the centurion: (1) “Truly I tell you, not even in Israel have I seen such faith!” Next, when Jesus (2) saw the faith of the friends who were carrying the bed of a paralyzed man to get him to Jesus, he said to the paralytic: “Take heart, son; your sins are forgiven.”

Then, suddenly, the woman who had been hemorrhaging for twelve years came up and touched his cloak.  He said to her: (3) “Take heart, daughter, your faith has made you well.”  Now, two blind men follow him from the leader of the synagogue’s (Jairus’) house crying loudly “Have mercy on us, Son of David!”  Jesus said to them, “Do you believe that I am able to do this?”  Their response is THE most important ‘affirmation of faith’ sung in the Black Church tradition— “YES, LORD!”  He touched their eyes and said: (4) “According to your faith let it be done to you.”

Next, the Canaanite woman who shamelessly sought Jesus in the healing of her daughter.  Jesus said to her: (5) “Woman, Great is your faith! Let it be done for you as you wish.”  Then, the father of an epileptic son told Jesus his disciples were unable to cure the boy.  Jesus says: “You faithless and perverse generation, how much longer must I be with you?  Bring him to me.”  When the disciples question their lack of power, he says to them: “Because of your little faith.  For truly I tell you, (6) if you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘move from here to there’ and it will move; and nothing will be impossible for you.”

Hunger is upon Jesus and the fig tree in his path has no fruit.  Cursing the tree, his disciples question and he says to them: (7) “Truly I tell you, if you have faith and do not doubt, not only will you do what has been done to the fig tree, but even if you say to this mountain, ‘be lifted up and thrown into the sea,’ it will be done.  Whatever you ask for in prayer with faith, you will receive it.”

Bennett College is was of the last HBCU’s with required Chapel attendance.  During my chaplaincy, given to me as ‘ACES’ (Academic and Cultural Enrichment Series).  Every Tuesday and Thursday at 11:00am.  In creatively designing these programs for excellence, I added “The Last Lecture” series and asked Faculty to sum up what they believed to be the most important issues of a particular course of study.  The (8)th and final use of ‘pistis/faith’ by Jesus in Matthew is perhaps his “Last Lecture”: “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites  For you tithe mint, dill and cummin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faith.  It is these you ought to have practiced without neglecting the others.  You blind guides!  You strain out a gnat but swallow a camel.”

All inquiries By email: talk2therev@icloud.com. “Words of Life Study” Wednesdays on Zoom.  12:00 Noon & 6:30 pm CST. Join the Dialogue at my “Swellcast”.  At all times: https://SWELLCAST.com/therev

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