7th Sunday after Pentecost – Sunday, July 27, 2014

Readings for the day:

1 Kings 3:5-12

Psalm 119:129-136

Romans 8:26-39

Matthew 13:31-33, 44-52

Dear friends in Christ, grace to you and peace from God our Father, and our Lord and Savior Jesus the Christ.  Amen.

Last week, we heard about the parable of the weeds and the wheat.  Today, there are five very short parables: the Mustard Seed, the Yeast, the Hidden Treasure, the Pearl of Great Value, and the Net.  I’d like to talk briefly about each one.

First of all, the mustard seed and the yeast are comparable to each other.  And likewise, the hidden treasure and the pearl of great value are also comparable to each other.  And the parable of the net is actually most comparable to the weeds and the wheat parable we had last week.

With the mustard seed and the yeast, Jesus says that the kingdom of heaven is like these objects: a mustard seed that starts off as a small seed, but grows to be a tall tree.  And actually a mustard tree really isn’t a tree at all.  It can grow to be about 20 feet tall, which isn’t that big.  But what is impressive is that it is as wide as it is tall.  So it might only be 20 feet tall, but it is also 20 feet wide.  And with yeast, the amount of yeast added to flour to make bread is so incredibly small as compared to the rest of the ingredients.  And Jesus says that the kingdom of heaven is like these objects: the mustard seed and the yeast.  Small objects within a much larger space.  But maybe we should back up and ask, “What or where is this kingdom of heaven?”  We could certainly say that the kingdom of heaven is heaven, where God is at.  But God is also present here with us through His Holy Spirit.  So where is this kingdom of heaven?  Well the prayer that Jesus teaches says, “Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name, thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.”  Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.  God’s kingdom, certainly is in heaven, but we pray that God’s kingdom would come and reign in this world, on this earth.  And Jesus says that God’s kingdom is like a little teaspoon of yeast in the middle of 4-5 cups of flour and other ingredients.  God’s kingdom is like a tiny mustard seed or corn seed in the middle of a large, empty field.  God’s kingdom is small, like you and me, like Waverly, like Circle of Faith, like Trimont.  Or is it?

At this point in the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus is teaching his disciples as well as probably a few hundred followers that are curious about what he has to say.  And he says, right now, the kingdom of heaven is small, you are small, this ministry is small.  But what happens to that mustard seed?  It grows to be a large shrub that provides branches for birds and other wildlife to make their home.  What happens to that yeast?  It mixes with the flour and makes the dough rise into a wonderful loaf of bread for us to feast on.  The kingdom of heaven may be small, Jesus says, but it certainly won’t stay that way.  It will grow, it will expand, it will produce an abundant harvest for God’s people and all of creation.

But do you believe all of this?  You are a tiny church!  You are less than 100 people in a world of over 7 billion.  That is such a small percentage of the population that when I tried to calculate it, my calculator just said “ERROR.”  What good are we?  After all we are in flyover country.  Ten miles from here is the interstate where there are constantly people driving by without thinking that there are even people around here.  That is of course unless they need some gas or a bottle of pop.

What good are we, is that the kingdom of heaven is also “like a merchant in search of fine pearls; on finding one pearl of great value, he went and sold all that he had and bought it.”[1]  In the previous parables, Jesus says the kingdom of heaven is like an object (a seed or yeast or treasure).  Now in this parable, the kingdom of heaven is not compared to the pearl, but the merchant that goes in search of a fine pearl.  This parable is different than the rest.  If the kingdom of heaven is the merchant, then the merchant is God and He is in search of a fine pearl.  And when He finds this said pearl, He goes and sells all that He has to buy it.  On finding you, God gave up everything (including His only Son), in order that He would have YOU!

The kingdom of heaven may appear to be as small as a mustard seed or a small amount of yeast.  But God takes the little bit that He has and turns that into a large shrub for birds to make their nest.  If that is what God can do with a mustard seed, imagine what God can and is doing with our little Waverly church.

You may feel small and insignificant at times, but you indeed are of great value.  You are the finest of pearls and God went and sold everything that He had so that He would have the best.  You are God’s pearl of great value.  God takes you, a small mustard seed, and turns His church into a large shrub.  God takes you, a very small amount of yeast, and turns His church into a wonderful, delicious loaf of bread that feeds the world.  God does all of this through His most finest of all pearls…YOU!  Amen.

© 2014 Anthony Christoffels.  Used with permission.

[1] Matthew 13:45-46, NRSV