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Pastor’s Pen

“The Kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed that someone took and sowed in his field; it is the smallest of all seeds, but when it has grown it is the greatest of shrubs and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and make nests in its branches.” Matthew 13:31-32

         It happened the year my eldest son turned two. I remember because I spent the summer trying to keep clothes on him as he delightedly preferred to play in his birthday suit. He loved dirt, which led to a growing fascination with the garden. To distract him from his favorite occupation, we planted vegetable seeds, and quit the house every morning to see what might come up.

         From the tiniest of seeds, a row of unrecognizable blossoms emerged. Soon it became apparent that the vegetables would not arrive as expected. Where we thought to plant food, a vagrant splash of wildflowers appeared. Shameless in profusion, they flayed themselves brilliantly, row upon row. No greater pleasure could have come from sweet peas or green beans than from the generous bouquets inexplicably gracing our yard.

         How much we have to gain by scattering seeds, trusting God, and letting go. Most of what matters in life we cannot control. Things often turn out other than we’ve planned. We start things that take us places we had not thought we wanted to go. God creates beauty out of the smallest of efforts on our part.

         More than anything else, Jesus wanted us to understand that the Kingdom of Heaven is right here, right now. It is also of course for eternity. But we were made for more than heaven. We were made to live in such a way that God’s kingdom come, God’s will be done, where? On earth as it is in heaven.

         This requires risk on our part. For example, we can’t save every Syrian refugee fleeing the Middle East, but Pope Francis surely understood the Parable of the Mustard seed when he challenged every European Catholic family to extend hospitality to just one family in need. God works through us to create a new heaven and new earth, and Jesus told stories that showed us the way.

The thought of planting a gardener’s dream and making a living at it, like so many of our local growers, seems out of reach for us. We’re tempted not to plant a garden at all, as we know the wind, rain, hail, sun, dog or deer may bring it to ruin. We quite rightly imagine that it will be hard work whether our efforts bear fruit, or not.

         Nevertheless, God asks us to plant new things for God’s Kingdom: an idea, a project, a relationship. Dream big, plant small. Even the tiniest of mustard seeds can grow to support a village of birds. The grace of God makes all things possible.

Prayer: God of all Creation, of heaven and of earth, grant us sufficient trust to plant again. Our garden may not have grown as we had hoped. We are disappointed. We’re tempted to quit. Reveal to us again the power of your Kingdom plans for our life, that with faith even as small as a mustard seed, your garden will flourish.

God’s grace, mercy and peace,

Pastor Verlee