He also said, ‘With what can we compare the kingdom of God, or what parable will we use for it? It is like a mustard seed, which, when sown upon the ground, is the smallest of all the seeds on earth; yet 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.’ With many such parables he spoke the word to them, as they were able to hear it; he did not speak to them except in parables, but he explained everything in private to his disciples.
Most people have only seen mustard in a jar. My grandmother was a farmer; she used to grow mustard in her herb patch. I still remember her explaining to me how to care for each different type of plant.
You don’t expect a mustard seed to grow into a tree, or even a shrub – it is normally a small herb, a straight stalk one or two feet tall. A bunch of flowers, turning into seed pods, at the top. You plant a tiny seed and you get small results – it’s not just farming, this is what life is like.
Jesus is telling us that the Kingdom of God is different – even tiny investments may produce overwhelmingly great returns.
A few kind words, an act of love, a few minutes of listening – and a life may take a completely different path as a result. It doesn’t take big, heroic efforts to change our world. It is true, at times heroic acts are called for – but most of the change is made by an unseen and unheard army of people, doing everyday acts of kindness. One word, one act, one thought, one intention, one life touched at a time. You don’t need to go looking for opportunities to make a difference, you are surrounded by opportunities every day; at home, at work, in your daily commute or while doing your grocery shopping.
You plant one tiny seed, and before you know it, it grows into a mighty tree. An army of hidden heroes, planting small seeds of love, can grow an entire forest.
God of mustard seeds and mighty oaks, give us faithfulness to keep planting seeds of grace, give us a love that continually spills over on those we meet and touch, help us take over the world, one act of kindness at a time. Amen.
Marius Mazuru, pastor, Pilgrim URC Church, Plymouth