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.”
When I read the passage about the mustard seed a couple of week ago, I was transported back to my childhood. It’s one of the parables I remember so clearly. Perhaps it was because of the symbol of such a small seed growing into a huge plant. I’m sure we were given a little mustard seed in our Sunday School class. Or maybe it was the cute little charm with the mustard seed inside that so many of my friends wore – and which you can still buy today from thousands of different vendors.
I continued reading the chapter, and when I came to the part about Jesus explaining everything in private, I thought hey way a minute. Why didn’t someone write down those words for me to read? Were they in executive session, and couldn’t repeat what was said? It seems it would be much easier if we knew all the backstory instead of only the parable. On the other hand, perhaps that is part of the foundation of faith. That we walk by faith and not by sight. Richard Rohr writes often about leaving the dual thinking of either/or, this or that behind. We can sit in the paradox or mystery of faith and be ok. Just like the mustard seed that is a beautiful yellow herb – or tree depending on where you live – yet it can be invasive and pervasive and can take over everything in its path.
Like each one of us – we are beautiful but we can be thorny, too and maybe even a little invasive! We have light and dark inside. We have joy and sadness, strength and weakness, good times and devastating events in our lives. Instead of looking at it as either/or – let’s consider that these opposites are actually intertwined. We need to experience sadness to be grateful for joy and know darkness to love the light. And we are the light. Each one of us is given the chance to be the light for one another. We are God’s children, and Jesus has shown us the way to grow in faith and love one another. As Presiding Bishop Michael Curry said Love is the way.When love is the way, then no child will go to bed hungry in this world ever again.When love is the way, we will lay down our swords and shields, down by the riverside, to study war no more. When love is the way, there’s plenty good room – plenty good room – for all of God’s children.
Just like the mustard seed, God throws us into this world. We can grow in faith and love and be the shade to provide rest for all those in need. Today, 2300 Spaniards are at the dock to welcome 300 refugees who have been at sea waiting for a safe harbor. Today, a group from Marfa and surrounding communities are meeting in Fabens to march to Tornillo as a way to protest the separating of families at the U.S. border.
The mustard seed parable gives me hope. That no matter how small my faith may have become, it never died. All it needed was a little water, good soil and sunshine to spring back to life – in other words, people who love me, care for me, and welcome me. Like the large branches of the mustard tree we can rest in its shade, and bring comfort and love to the world.
I’ll close with a poem from SteveGarnaas-Holmes’s Unfolding Light
You are a tiny speck of God’s infinite love.
When you let yourself be sown into this world,
given to low places,
what seems tiny unfolds,
because it is God,
and becomes great,
a cedar of Lebanon, a mighty oak of love,
a safe refuge for the weary,
a source of life and comfort for the meek,
a welcome home for God’s little ones.
We only see the seed,
but the unfolding awaits.