Devotion for the Third Sunday in June
“[Jesus] 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.'” (Mark 4:30-32)
Growing up in California, I am familiar with the mustard plant. Yet, that familiarity always makes me wonder how different the mustard plant must have been in Galilee. Out West, mustard was never a bush and certainly not a tree that birds could make a nest in. It was a plant, a flower, that dominated the rural countryside with its bright yellow.
And though no birds made their nests in this plant, the bees made their living off them. I could stand on the edge of a field of mustard and hear the steady hum of the bees as they gathered the nectar from these flowers. Mustard gave a delight to the eyes with its color, to the ears with the hum of the bees, and to the taste with the honey produced as a result.
And all of this happens from the smallest of seeds. Do you see it? It is that small speck in the middle of that palm. All those fields of green and yellow, all begin with the smallest of specks and seeds.
Whether it be the greatest of shrubs in Galilee or the splendor of fields in California, the image and metaphor Jesus proclaims still applies. We throw out this seed, living and speaking and spreading this message of love and grace and letting God take care of the results.
And even when it seems that our efforts are too small and too feeble to have any effect, then look at the abundance of yellow that starts with the smallest of efforts. Or see a shrub so large that birds make their nest. God takes whatever we have and transforms it into abundance.
God, I feel so inadequate. My efforts and my resources seem so small. Yet, you are the God of abundance, and in you I trust. You can take what I have and transform it into overflowing grace. Amen.
Pastor David Armstrong-Reiner