By Caroline Sharp
“For truly I tell you, if you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move; and nothing will be impossible for you.” Mt. 17:20-21
One of the things I look forward to by the end of winter is spring. The days grow longer, we shed our heavy winter clothes, and new life abounds.
For me, as a farmer, it means that I can start putting the hundreds of seedlings I’ve started outside! It means that it is time to return to the outdoors and get my hands back in the dirt; preparing raised beds, setting up irrigation, laying down mulch, planting seeds, transplanting, etc. But what I look forward to the most is the germination and growth of a new plant from a seed.
God can be found in nature, in her Creation, all around us! I empathize with C.S. Lewis’ statement: “Nature never taught me that there exists a God of glory and infinite majesty. I had to learn that in other ways. But nature gave the word glory a meaning for me. I still do not know where else I could have found one.”
When I see the miracle of a tiny seed unfurl itself into roots and a vine then journey upwards sprouting foliage then flowers and fruit, I cannot help but think of God’s glory and the love God must have for this tiny little bit of life to grow and do what it was created to do. What boggles the mind is that God loves us all so incredibly much that she doesn’t even expect us to have faith the size of a mustard seed. But if we did have that much faith, nothing would be impossible for us! To have this faith means that I can do all things through him who strengthens me (Phil. 4:13).
For us to do what God intends, we need to make our faith the size of a mustard seed so that we can plant it because that’s what you do with seeds. When our faith is planted it grows roots and a vine. It branches out and reaches places we never thought possible and this miracle - this gift - comes from God. The trouble is, it is so very hard for us to plant our mustard seeds or, at least, to get them to germinate.
Author, mentor, and entrepreneur, Cynthia Occelli wrote: “For a seed to achieve its greatest expression, it must come completely undone. The shell cracks, its insides come out and everything changes. To someone who doesn’t understand growth, it would look like complete destruction.”
As humans, we must work at developing and maintaining relationships with others. Our relationship with Christ is no different. Building this relationship grows our faith and our mustard seeds. Try for even just one dinner to put a plate out for Jesus and serve up some food to this seemingly empty spot at the table. Remind yourself that Jesus is always with you and feel his love for you. He loves you no matter what! Even when you think you are alone, Jesus is there (even when you’re dancing and singing like no one is watching!). Is this relationship relatively one sided? If so, there are multiple ways to give your relationship a boost, just ask your rector!
The language that Christ uses is often land based and, more specifically, agricultural. We need to listen to his words simply and as they are. We need to listen with open hearts and be impressionable like young children. It is from this that we can see growth rather than destruction. For our Church to grow we must plant our seeds as well as water them and nurture them in the ideal environment. Seeds, left unplanted, become unviable. Unplanted or unwatered seeds are also an expense rather than a profit.
I really believe the mustard seed of our Church is currently in that anxious stage of being watered and waiting for its shell to crack. To be fair, the Church has likely been in this stage for quite some time. However, we are not accustomed to kairos time - things happening when they are meant to happen. But the seeds are soaking and, in time, will grow to fruition.
I know precisely how many seeds of everything I have planted and I watch the moistened soil regularly for new growth. I suspect that God also does this with us. For each and every new seed to pop up out of the soil, God sings and dances like no one is watching.
Are you with her when she does?
Caroline Sharp is a chair of SEJH.