October 6, 2019: Faith Provides Potential


World Communion Sunday

The object lesson of the mustard seed (Luke 17:5-6) is about potential. The King James Version gets it right by translating the Greek to read “faith as a mustard seed.” Words such as “small” or “big” or “size” do not appear in the Greek original.

Jesus is saying that if we have faith like a mustard seed, that is, with the potential such as demonstrated by the mustard seed, then we will be amazed at what takes place. The little becomes great, the weak becomes strong, the fearful becomes bold, the divided are unified, and the daunting challenges are diminished and overcome.

As I write this in preparation for World Communion Sunday, I am also reading about the struggle of the United Methodist Church, at its 2019 General Conference, in making decisions regarding the church and LGBT issues. Their struggle is also our struggle.

At the same time, I read of the way Japan created, in the midst of the sea, an island, on which they built the Kansai International Airport. The engineers undertook what seemed to be a ridiculous proposal and made it happen. They literally scooped up a mountain and cast it into the sea.

The object lesson is saying to us that with a mustard seed–like faith, challenges can be faced successfully and dreams become reality. The teaching is that faith provides potential to make things happen or come into being. If ever that which faces us seems overwhelming, we are called to meditate again on the lesson of the mustard seed and to pray to our Lord, the prayer of the disciples, “Lord, increase our faith.”


George Richmond, retired pastor
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania