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Luke 18:1-8

There are countless instances where a word’s meaning becomes ‘lost in translation,’ or when a certain word means something different depending on who you are talking to, or what historical or social context you are using it in. Words like ‘love’ or ‘justice’ hold different meanings for, lets say, followers of Jesus, than those not-yet following Jesus, whose perceptions might be more worldly or secular. While at times it may feel like overly nuanced and hair-splitting work, trying to be clear and get to the bottom of what we mean when we use certain words is important work for followers of Jesus to engage in, if for no other reason, because we are to have “the mind of Christ.”[1]

With these things in mind I would like to use this space to explore the word faith, as used by Jesus in verse eight of this week’s Gospel reading in a question that has me shook to my core: “And yet, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?”

By my observation, the word faith is used by all kinds of Christians in all kinds of circumstances, but I am not convinced we are all on the same page with what the word means or how it should be used - let alone on the same page as Jesus (cue the Inigo Montoya memes). I think it is important to at least try and figure out if Jesus’ concept of faith is synonymous with what is being communicated when all-to-popular phrases like ‘Gotta have faith,’ or, ‘Faith, family, and freedom,’ or, ‘Faith over fear,’ are used.

So, for those committed to the way of Jesus, what is faith? Where does faith come from? What is faith supposed to do? How is faith being displayed in ‘the Parable of the Persistent Widow’ that Jesus seems to be alluding to? To make sense of this element of our given Gospel passage I will work through these questions [relatively quickly], in hopes that something might jump out at you, inspire you, and give you space to ‘take the ball and run further with it’ in your sermon preparation and/or study. Along the way, we will glean from just a few wisdom-soaked words from the incomparable theologian Mildred Bangs Wynkoop in her seminal work from 1972, A Theology of Love (of which I have a first edition copy - not to brag or anything!).