Monday, June 8, 2015

Mustard Seeds

Each Monday, Lakehills UMC provides a meal for the community. We call this meal and time together Bread of Life. We also provide some "to-go" meals for those who cannot come to the church building for the meal for one reason or another. I have been creating a little flyer-thing to go with the meals for those who come for those 'to-go' meals. It provides a schedule of activities going on at the church for the week and a little article about one of the scriptures in the Revised Common Lectionary for the week. I have toyed with publishing these articles off and on for a while as a way of actually using this blog space I have. So here is what I wrote for this week. Do with it what you will.

Mark 4:26-34 (NRSV)
26He also said, “The kingdom of God is as if someone would scatter seed on the ground, 27and would sleep and rise night and day, and the seed would sprout and grow, he does not know how. 28The earth produces of itself, first the stalk, then the head, then the full grain in the head. 29But when the grain is ripe, at once he goes in with his sickle, because the harvest has come.”
30He also said, “With what can we compare the kingdom of God, or what parable will we use for it? 31It is like a mustard seed, which, when sown upon the ground, is the smallest of all the seeds on earth; 32yet when it is sown it grows up and becomes the greatest of all shrubs, and puts forth large branches, so that the birds of the air can make nests in its shade.”
33With many such parables he spoke the word to them, as they were able to hear it; 34he did not speak to them except in parables, but he explained everything in private to his disciples.

One day, when I was in Hawaii visiting my sister and family, we were driving back home, with the children in the back seat. My nephew said to my niece, “Miranda, did you know that you can move that mountain over there?”

My niece, all of 3 years old said, “No I can’t. I’ve got tiny little arms.”
My nephew said, “Uh huh. Jesus said if you have faith in a mustard seed you can move mountains.”
To move a mountain only requires faith in a mustard seed . . . well that is not exactly what Jesus said. He did say that if we have faith the size of a mustard seed, we can move mountains. Growing up when I heard these words, I always pictured a big strong tree – one of the cedars of Lebanon or one of the giant redwoods, but as you can see in the included picture (I cannot figure out how to post a copied image here, as I have in the flyer), the mustard plant is not exactly a beautiful tree. In fact, while there are some who cultivate it purposefully, there are also many who consider it a weed, a dirty, annoying weed.
What an unusual image for the kingdom of God?! It just goes to show that, once again, God will not conform to our imaginations. I have read a definition of a weed as “a plant in the wrong place.” Like a weed, God’s kingdom is wild, tenacious, and once it takes root, it will not give up easily. There is some comfort here. Weeds have to fight for their place to exist, so by their very nature, they are tough.
Some may not believe that faith has any place in our world. My Christianity is fine for me, but I need not shove it down another’s throat. For me, however, when I look around and see the world as it is – where violence is more widespread than peace, where children go to bed hungry, where lack of proper health care and proper mental health care keeps people locked in systemic oppression, and where we can hate one another in the name of our country, our religion, or any other reason – I have to believe there is something better. I have to believe that God has a better way for us, and I have to believe that God’s way has already taken root in our world so desperately in need of God by tiny, little mustard-seed-sized acts of faith.

Grow little weed, grow. May God’s kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven.