“Increase our faith!” It’s one thing to whisper this plea in private — and another thing entirely to gather with a whole mess of apostles and cry out in unison.
This was my experience at a gathering of young ELCA rostered leaders in August. The gathering, named for its purpose (“Affirming Young Leaders: Thanks Be To God!”), included visitors from throughout the churchwide structure. But the focus was on the voices of our peers and, as I experienced it, our collective sighs. I’m convinced there is no better way to begin affirming leaders in ministry than to let them emit an enormous collective groan. Lord, we are unequal to the tasks set before us. Increase our faith!
Of course, leaders aren’t generally encouraged to groan and sigh in front of those they are meant to lead (especially because said people may be the source of such groans). But stepping away for a time with just our peers affords such an opportunity.
Once the frustrations are pried out of the tight spaces where they were lodged, there is room for the Teacher’s response to take up residence in us. In Luke 17:6 Jesus says, “If you had faith the size of a mustard seed .…” Now that we already know! Every last one of Jesus’ apostles sent out to proclaim the gospel in word and deed does have that seed-sized faith, or they/we would not have turned our cries toward God in the first place. Frustrations out, we have really come together to hear a promise: “You could say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted and planted in the sea,’ and it would obey you.’ ”
There is power in any sized faith that cries out to God for help. I found great hope in a community of my peers who, in turn, shared their frustrations but then great joy. God is at work, we assured each other, through the larger and the smallest shreds of our faithful service. Leave it to Jesus to point out that we already have all the faith we need. But what we really needed, we received those four days on Chicago’s Navy Pier: peers who could cry out with us, and a chance to hear once more the assurance that our Lord Jesus has it all in hand. Thanks be to God.
Machosky was one of 90 young adult rostered leaders who gathered at Navy Pier in Chicago Aug. 6-9.
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