I was asked to contribute a piece to my home church’s Lenten Devotional. I was assigned today’s lectionary readings which includes Mark 4:26-34 – the parables of the growing seed and the mustard seed. Here’s what I wrote:
The kingdom of God is as if a man should scatter seed on the ground. He sleeps and rises night and day, and the seed sprouts and grows; he knows not how…. It is like a grain of mustard seed…” – Mark 4:26-27, 31
In my ministry of starting a new church and starting a new ministry for Graduate students, I often reflect on the image of the mustard seed. The kingdom of God starts small. When we started The Upper Room Church, there were only 8 of us meeting in a living room. When I started Graduate Christian Fellowship, there were just 3 of us praying together in a classroom at Carnegie Mellon.
I used to think of those small groups as “mustard seed” beginnings of my ministry. I don’t anymore. I’ve come to realize that my ministry had even smaller, less noticeable beginnings. My ministry started in 2nd grade in a Sunday school classroom at Parkwood. I still remember the lesson: “We’re Jesus’ disciples, and Jesus’ disciples tell other people about God.” Easy enough. The next day, I went to school, sat down next to my deskmate, Joe, and started telling him about how God created him and me and everything else. That’s what I was supposed to do, after all. I was Jesus’ disciple.
I’ve lost touch with Joe, and I highly doubt he remembers our brief conversation about God more than 20 years ago. But I remember it as the first deliberate action I took as a follower of Jesus; a mustard seed beginning to a ministry of telling many more people about God. A mustard seed planted by my church family, fulfilling the promise they made at my baptism to raise me in the faith. Keep planting mustard seeds, Parkwood, you never know how those seeds will sprout and grow.