GET CONNECTED with our CHURCH FAMILY … responding to human need

Thursday, February 29

Mark 4:30-32 (NRSV) 

Jesus also said, “With what can we compare the kingdom of God, or what parable will we use for it? It is like a mustard seed, which, when sown upon the ground, is the smallest of all the seeds on the earth; yet when it is sown it grows up and becomes the greatest of all shrubs, and it puts forth large branches, so that the birds of the air can make nests in its shade.”


February 29 in the Common Lectionary is a “sparse day,” full of divergent readings about trickery, sexual morality, fear, thanksgiving, praise, proverbial sayings, and agricultural metaphors.  As I read passages, nowhere did there seem to be anything about Hospitality and Service.  Clearly this was a joke on the part of the Lectionary Committee.  Perhaps they thought, “Let’s put these oddly divergent verses in one place. It is only once every four years.”

Out of this somewhat “barren Lectionary field” came the parable of the mustard seed.  Upon reflection, I realized that when I contemplate Service and Hospitality, I often feel dwarfed by the enormity of the need.  There are so many needs in our current world, so many opportunities for hospitality and service, that I can feel completely overwhelmed.  I wonder if I can make even a small dent.   

But the parable of the mustard seed spoke.  Yes, I am exceedingly small, like a mustard seed.  It would be comfortable to stay in the seed sack, where we are all tiny specks.  But if I leave the sack, I will encounter the fertile ground (filled with good soil, bad soil, nutrients, rocks, disease), and encounter all that I need.  As I sit in the fertile soil, I am no longer a seed, but grow into a fertile plant. I become “the greatest of all shrubs” providing nests for birds and much needed shade.  I’ve gone from a possible food source for the birds, to a place providing shelter and comfort to those same birds. All because I left the comfort of the seed sack, fell on fertile ground, and allowed God to work. 

I realized Hospitality and Service are like the mustard seed.  My efforts can seem minuscule in comparison to the needs.  But God takes my small efforts, and in combination with other small efforts, creates communities of love, hospitality, and service. It starts with me, an individual mustard seed, which through God’s love and grace becomes a “mighty plant” in a field full of mighty plants. And together, with God’s Grace, each of our efforts become greater than the whole. 


Gracious God, please help us to remember,  however minuscule our efforts seem, that in this vast world of need, You will transform each effort into something larger than our imaginations can fathom.  Please continue to encourage all of us to be Your servants in this world, remembering that together, as arms of Your Hospitality and Service, we can continue the work of transformation in this world and beyond.  Amen. 

Judy Herseth