Of Ministry and Mustard Seeds

Jesus said, “How can I describe the Kingdom of God? What story should I use to illustrate it? It is like a mustard seed planted in the ground. It is the smallest of all seeds, but it becomes the largest of all garden plants; it grows long branches, and birds can make nests in its shade.” (Mark 4:30-32)

A new ministry got started at Calvary recently. You may not have heard about it, because no committee meetings were held to plan it. No announcements were made, urging people to participate in it. No money was collected from the church to pay for it. Instead, a small group of people in our congregation saw a need – felt a burden to do something about that need – and allowed God to use them to be a blessing to others. And as a result, I believe that Calvary has taken another little step toward becoming more of what God wants us to be.

Just in case you’re wondering, this new ministry involves sharing the blessing of time and attention with residents of the Colonial Care Nursing Home not far from our church. There are no members of Calvary at Colonial Care; and compared to similar facilities in Mount Airy, Colonial Care is somewhat under-resourced. And yet, it is filled with people whom God loves and for whom Jesus died. So some women in our church – moved by compassion (and I think, by the prompting of God’s Spirit) – have begun to visit. They’re spending time with residents to play some games, read some books and share some cookies. And thinking about their efforts brings to mind the words of Jesus: “When you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were doing it to me!” (Mt. 25:40).

Now I don’t share this with you in order to heap praise on these women (although they deserve it); nor do I share this in the hope that you’ll join them (although they’d probably welcome your participation). No, I share this to point out that this is the way the kingdom of God works. I hope that you have heard me say loud and clear that the heart of our mission as followers of Jesus beats with the calling to be a blessing. And one of the “growth areas” that I see for our church family in the days ahead is finding new ways for all of us to roll up our sleeves, jump in, and serve our community.

But we need to understand that this isn’t likely to happen as a result of “church-wide programs.” Although there may be value in those, we could never coordinate calendars well enough to get a majority of our folks involved – nor could we find many ‘whole-church’ projects that would utilize everyone’s gifts. But if we look for the small things…if our Sunday School classes and mission groups and music ensembles and leadership teams – start looking for lonely people they can visit and hungry people they can feed and children they can inspire and strangers they can bless…then we can plant some mustard seeds. And what did Jesus say? Those seeds (though small) produce big kingdom results. The saying really is true: “Small things – done with great love – will change the world.”

Of course, I’m happy to report that the planting of this particular “mustard seed” isn’t a new thing for folks at Calvary. Our Sunday School classes and other small groups are performing “Acts of Blessing” all the time. But what might it look like for us to get even more intentional about that? What if every small group at Calvary made it their aim to plant at least one “mustard-seed-act-of-blessing” every month, or every quarter? And suppose we found ways to share and celebrate the ways that God was at work – changing the world and changing us – through those acts of blessing?

It is my passionate prayer that our church family will be so moved by love for God and each other that we can’t contain that love to ourselves. Let’s be about the work of expanding God’s kingdom embrace. The fields are ready. What seeds are you planting?

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