Friday, June 1, 2012

Mustard Tree and Leaven

He put another parable before them, saying, “The kingdom of heaven is like a grain of mustard seed that a man took and sowed in his field. It is the smallest of all seeds, but when it has grown it is larger than all the garden plants and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and make nests in its branches.”

He told them another parable. “The kingdom of heaven is like leaven that a woman took and hid in three measures of flour, till it was all leavened.” All these things Jesus said to the crowds in parables; indeed, he said nothing to them without a parable. This was to fulfill what was spoken by the prophet:
“I will open my mouth in parables; I will utter what has been hidden since the foundation of the world.”
Matthew 13:31-35

Two things that bring me great joy are working in the garden and making bread. There is something very powerful and intimate about getting elbow deep in the work and producing food for one's family. Both working a garden and making bread take patience and persistence and a willingness to get messy, covered in flour and dirt. I remember many times when our girls were young when making bread I was interrupted by a phone call. My girls would tease me because telephone receiver would be covered in dried dough. I spent a good deal of time scrubbing up afterwards, but there is no way to make bread, of care for a garden, without getting messy. In former generations, these tasks were the daily labor, often of the women folk, but for me it is a choice. There is something very holy and right about getting close to the earth and the food we consume.

Jesus continues to tell the followers parables. A parable is a succinct story, in prose or verse, which illustrates one or more lessons, or a normative principle. Jesus drew pictures with words, with images from everyday life that would have a powerful impact on his listeners. The mustard seed and leaven were completely familiar to the audience, and they would understand the remarkable image of God's kingdom as a mustard seed or leaven. We might not so much, as we don't daily interact with these items. We are invited to see and know God's reign, as coming to us in the smallest event, gesture or relationship, and blossoming into sanctuary, shade and safety, as well as food, flavor and daily sustenance.

Today, may we all be moved by the powerful and intimate connection God has established with us, and may we invite God into our small daily moments, into every relationship and gesture, so that God's kingdom might blossom in the midst of us. May we see and know God with us, at table with us, and with us in our labors and in our rest. May the roots of God's love and compassion take hold in us so that we might share the love we have been given with others. May our small encounters this day, become transfroming moments of faith, so that God's reign of love and healing might be known today.

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