APC 27th Jan 2021 “Stories Jesus told…The Mustard Seed”
Welcome and Introduction
Good morning everyone and welcome to our Midweek worship. Today we continue looking at some of the greatest stories Jesus ever told. The title of today’s story is, “The Mustard Seed”. But before we hear it and discover what lessons we can learn, let’s take a moment to talk to God, let’s pray…
Gracious God, we thank you for the great gift of sight, and for all there is in this wonderful world of ours to see. We thank you that we can look around and feast our eyes on so much that is good, fascinating, memorable and beautiful. Gracious God, open our eyes.
We thank you that besides this there are other kinds of sight – foresight, hindsight, insight, each enabling us to see behind outer appearances to a deeper reality within. Gracious God, open our eyes.
Forgive us for so often failing to see beneath the surface, for overlooking the ways you are at work in our lives, for being blind to all that you would reveal to us. Gracious God, open our eyes and help us to see! In the name of Christ we pray…
Let us join together in the words of the Lord’s Prayer…
Our Father, which art in heaven, Hallowed be Thy name,
Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done, On earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day, our daily bread, And forgive us our trespasses,
As we forgive those who trespass against us,
And lead us not into temptation, But deliver us from evil,
For Thine is the Kingdom, the power and the glory,
For ever and ever, AMEN.
Bible Reading The Parable of the Mustard Seed
Luke 13 v 18-19
18 Then Jesus asked, “What is the kingdom of God like? What shall I compare it to? 19 It is like a mustard seed, which a man took and planted in his garden. It grew and became a tree, and the birds perched in its branches.”
Matthew 13 v 31-32
31 He told them another parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed, which a man took and planted in his field. 32 Though it is the smallest of all seeds, yet when it grows, it is the largest of garden plants and becomes a tree, so that the birds come and perch in its branches.”
Stories Jesus Told – ‘The Mustard Seed’
When I was in my early teens and twenties I had dreams of doing great things. I wanted to be a professional cricketer. The school rock band I played drums in were going to make it big someday! My life as a Christian was often equally as ambitious. I often hoped that one day I would be a famous missionary like the people I had read about- I could be the next CT Studd, travelling to China. I could be the reason that thousands of people would turn to Jesus!
But it wasn’t long before I was struggling to make the first eleven. The lads in the band finished their leaving certs and we all went off to different universities. I ended up teaching a Sunday school of about 8 children.
It’s good to have a vision. It’s good to be ambitious. But the older I get, the more I appreciate the value of the simple things in life as well as the big events. I’m satisfied with knowing that my children are emotionally happy no matter what else they achieve in life. I’m grateful for every opportunity to share my faith no matter how many views I get. I’ve learned to find as much joy in a coastal walk and a spice bag, as a foreign holiday and a gourmet steak.
In his parable of the mustard seed, Jesus reminds us of this very important lesson. The small things in life are really important.
He says that God’s Kingdom coming to earth is a bit like the growth of a mustard seed. A mustard seed is a very small seed. But eventually it can grow into a tree that can be over twelve feet tall. You’ll often see these trees full of birds because they love to eat the tiny little black mustard seeds. In the Old Testament, great ruling empires are often described as a ‘Big Tree’. The nations who are subject to and have to obey that great Ruling Empire are pictured as birds nesting in the branches of that ‘Big Tree’.
Jesus first told this story to his disciples. They were just a small group of people like us. The world in which they lived was so great. The opposition they faced at times was intense. I’m sure there were times they felt like quitting. I’m sure there were times when they felt- “What can we ever achieve for God?”
I’m pretty sure one of the reasons Jesus told them this parable was to encourage them. It was his way of saying,
“Don’t be discouraged, don’t give up! Even though you are just a small bunch of people, even though the good things you are trying to do for others may seem insignificant, God will use them. He will use them to grow His Kingdom in the lives of other people and in this world. Eventually, when God returns to transform this world into the New heaven and earth, you will discover that billions of people from every tribe and every nation will have become a part of that Kingdom because of the work you and many others have done.”
I want to encourage you to focus on the small things this week and to remember that God will use them to build His Kingdom.
It could be phoning a relative or friend to see how they’re doing. Giving your child a hug and telling them how much you love them. Unpacking the dishwasher or making your spouse a surprise cup of coffee. Saying ‘Thank you’ and ‘you do a great job’ to a shop assistant. Letting someone out of a junction or picking up a piece of litter on the beach. Liking an online reflection or sharing it with a friend. Dropping your own agenda to help a colleague at work. Saying a thirty second prayer with your grandchild before you drop them at the school gate. Life is full of mustard seeds, words and actions, so small, we barely notice them. But each one forever remembered by the recipients.
You may never know how God will use all the little things that you do and say this week to build his Kingdom in the lives of your family, friends and colleagues. But I can assure you, that even when you can’t see it, God is present and He is working, often mysteriously, in our lives and in the lives of everyone we meet.
So my encouragement to you this week is- take delight in doing the small things, knowing that God will use them to build His Kingdom slowly but surely in the lives of those around us. That way when God does ask us to do the thing that gets the limelight, we will be humble enough to do it for the right reasons so that He will get all the glory.
And don’t always look to see God working in a dramatic way. Remember He is always working, often quietly and slowly in the lives of people around us and often in places where we would least expect!
But through every little thing we do, God will be building His Kingdom and on the great day when that Kingdom comes in all its fullness we’ll never know just how many people will run up to us and say, “Hey aren’t you the person who…?”
Loving God, we pray today for those who are denied access to what we might consider ‘little things’ or at least the things we take for granted – food and clothing, work, a basic education, proper housing, mobility, health, companionship, love, human rights, liberty, freedom of speech, justice, peace. Lord in your mercy, hear our prayer.
Prosper the efforts of all who fight for these rights, all who labour to give people help and hope.
Loving God, we pray for those who feel themselves denied access to you, separated by guilt, doubts, past mistakes or lack of faith. Lord in your mercy, hear our prayer.
May all who seek your presence, all who ask for your forgiveness, and all who long for your love find in Jesus Christ the Way, the truth and the life. Lord in your mercy hear our prayer.
Take a moment now to remember a few people or circumstances to pray for…
All these we ask in the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, Amen.
It’s been a joy and privilege to share with you again today. Thanks again for logging on. I hope you’ve enjoyed today’s reflection. Please do spend some time in quiet over the next couple of days reflecting on the parable of the mustard seed.
Let me encourage you to tune in again on Sunday when the churches of the Dublin and Munster Presbytery will host the service as a symbol of our togetherness in Christ. Our speaker will be the Rev John Woodside and his theme will be “Practicing faith in times of isolation”. There will also be prayers, songs, scripture readings and a children’s talk led by representatives from all of the churches in our Presbytery. So log on at our normal time of 10am to worship together with our wider Presbyterian family.
To close, let me lead you in a Benediction after which I invite you as always, to say the grace together…
We may not be able to confront politicians or challenge presidents. We may not have the capacity to divert resources or uplift communities. We may not have the voice to silence the noise of war or the words to negotiate peace between armies. But as we follow you, O Christ, we are able to do something. And so we pray that you would inspire us to commit to and act on the small difference we can make; May we bring peace through small acts of gentleness and reconciliation; May we bring wealth through small contributions and collaborations: May we bring health and safety through small acts of consideration and acceptance; May we bring wholeness through small acts of care and service.
May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with us all now and for evermore, Amen.”
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