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O Ye of Little Faith

Luke 12:22-34

Rev. Kurt Hering

Pentecost 12, Proper 14, series C
Christ Lutheran-Elkhart, and Faith Lutheran-Hugoton  

right-click to download MP3 of this sermon

Sun, Aug 7, 2016 

Preaching to the saints of the Lutheran Church at Christ-Elkhart and Faith-Hugoton in Kansas since February 8, 2015. All sermons prior to that date were preached either at Trinity Lutheran Church-Layton or First Lutheran Church-Tooele, Utah.

Today’s Gospel text is summed up well in the modern day proverb and its corollary:

“Don’t sweat the small stuff.”

“It’s all small stuff.”

The anxiety of Little Faith is what underlies everything from abortion to global climate hysteria, from Communism to the threat of Islamic terrorism. Our worries that we will not be able to pay our bills; feed, clothe, or keep a roof over our families; or that overpopulation will overtax the earth lead to all sorts of attendant sins and futile attempts at constructing some sort of more perfect world.

But more importantly, the solution for Little Faith is Jesus. 

To hear the entire sermon as it was preached to the saints at Christ Lutheran-Elkhart, KS for the Twelfth Sunday after Pentecost, "O Ye of Little Faith," click on the audio link provided above. The sermon begins at 12:19.

Artwork: "Elijah Fed by the Ravens," Oil On Canvas by Paolo Fiammingo, Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco [not on display].

For those of you who prefer to read or read along while listening, the preaching manuscript the preaching manuscript follows below. .

Nota Bene: Sermons are meant to be heard. Bullet points in the manuscript are explained and filled out during the preaching, so you will need to listen to the audio file to get the full message.

Dear Baptized of God,

The anxiety of Little Faith is what underlies everything from abortion to global climate hysteria, from Communism to the threat of Islamic terrorism. Our worries that we will not be able to pay our bills; feed, clothe, or keep a roof over our families; or that overpopulation will overtax the earth lead to all sorts of attendant sins and futile attempts at constructing some sort of more perfect world.

But more importantly, the solution for Little Faith is Jesus. 

TEXT: And he said to his disciples, “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat, nor about your body, what you will put on. For life is more than food, and the body more than clothing. Consider the ravens: they neither sow nor reap, they have neither storehouse nor barn, and yet God feeds them. Of how much more value are you than the birds! And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? If then you are not able to do as small a thing as that, why are you anxious about the rest? Consider the lilies, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass, which is alive in the field today, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, how much more will he clothe you, O you of little faith! And do not seek what you are to eat and what you are to drink, nor be worried. For all the nations of the world seek after these things, and your Father knows that you need them. Instead, seek his kingdom, and these things will be added to you. “Fear not, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom. Sell your possessions, and give to the needy. Provide yourselves with moneybags that do not grow old, with a treasure in the heavens that does not fail, where no thief approaches and no moth destroys. For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also. Luke 12:22–34

O me of little faith. That’s what I see and hear in this passage every time.

And every time it hurts—bad.

But every time it also ends up lifting me again.

That’s the way it is with God’s Word and His love for us in Christ Jesus, the crucified and risen Son of God. It takes us to the cross with Him to kill the sinner. But it does so in order to lift us up with Him again to a life that never ends.

The only way to live with Him is to first die with Him. And that is what Baptism is all about as we learn to confess with the one holy Christian and apostolic church in answer to the catechism question, “What does such baptizing with water indicate?”

“It indicates that the old Adam in us should by daily contrition and repentance be drowned and die with all sins and evil desires, and that a new man should daily emerge and arise to shall live before God in righteousness and purity forever.”

“Where is this written?”

“St. Paul writes in Romans chapter six: ‘We were therefore buried with [Christ] through Baptism into death in order that, just as [He] was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.’” (Romans 6:4)

Today’s hymn of the day, “O Ye of Little Faith,” was written by Rev. Matt Richardt pastor at Gloria Dei Lutheran Church of Escondido, CA, and set to music by their organist and Director of Music, Bonnie Rex. Pastor Richardt captures this way of Baptismal life and presents it to us in the language Jesus uses in our Gospel text this morning.

In spiritual matters, there is a danger of hearing God scolding us when He is really not. Of thinking that He is disappointed in us when, in fact, He is speaking to us so very gently and kindly. Such, I think, is the case with “O ye of little faith.”

Sermons on this concept tell us that we should have more faith. But evidence points to a Lord who has come up with a loving nickname for us: Yeoflittlefaith. English hides the fact that in Greek it is only one word--oligopistoi. It is used only by Jesus and it is unknown outside the Bible. It has the look and sound of a nickname. More than that, a term of endearment and affection.

If you look at the occasions when Jesus uses the term, His followers are anxious, fearful, or confused.* What kind of Christ would scold people already in this condition? No, a more tender name for us Christians cannot be found. He is saying how much we need Him. Little faith doesn’t need more faith. A little faith needs Christ.

And that is exactly what we get from the Holy Spirit in the Holy Christian Church.

LSB p. 323, 325-326

Third Article of the Creed

I believe that I cannot by my own reason or strength believe in Jesus Christ, my Lord, or come to Him; but the Holy Ghost has called me by the Gospel, enlightened me with His gifts, sanctified and kept me in the true faith; even as He calls, gathers, enlightens, and sanctifies the whole Christian Church on earth, and keeps it with Jesus Christ in the one true faith; in which Christian Church He forgives daily and richly all sins to me and all believers, and at the last day will raise up me and all the dead, and will give to me and to all believers in Christ everlasting life.

What benefits does Baptism give?

It works forgiveness of sins, rescues from death and the devil, and gives eternal salvation to all who believe this, as the words and promises of God declare.

Which are such words and promises of God?

Christ, our Lord, says in the last chapter of Mark: “Whoever believes and is baptized shall be saved; but he that does not believe shall be condemned.” [Mark 16:16]

What is Confession?*

Confession embraces two parts. First, that we confess our sins, and second, that we receive absolution, that is, forgiveness, from the pastor as from God Himself, not doubting, but firmly believing that by it our sins are forgiven before God in heaven.

What is the benefit of such eating and drinking?

These words, “Given, and shed for you for the remission of sins,” show us that in the Sacrament forgiveness of sins, life, and salvation are given us through these words. For where there is forgiveness of sins, there is also life and salvation.

In a way, “O ye of little faith” is a promise that He will never leave, based on the fact that He never could! And in a mystery, it is a little faith that holds all of Christ. But perhaps it is more true to say that He holds our little faith as a precious thing to Him—guarding and protecting it and giving it everything it needs, everything we need when we need it.

If God rains on the just and feeds and clothes the unbeliever as well as unbeliever in addition to the birds of the air and the flowers of the field, what do we Baptized of God, the children of our Father in heaven have to fear in our little faith?

Remember the little children brought to Jesus? Bring your little faith to Him. He will take it, bless it, and say, “To such belongs the kingdom.”

Rejoice to be called “Oyeoflittlefaith.” —[By the One who is the author and perfecter of your faith, the One who is both the beginning and the end of our faith, little though it is.

For the One who calls you by so tender a name has promised to never leave you or forsake you. And it is a name you have in common with Peter, James, and John and that identifies you with all the saints of Biblical times and our fathers in the faith who have been forgiven all their sins and given a place in the kingdom of heaven—now and forever—in the name of the Father, and of the + Son, and of the Holy Spirit.


Insofar as this sermon is a true proclamation of the Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ, it belongs to Him and His Church. Therefore its use is free to all who deem it worthy and beneficial.

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