Mark 4:30-35 – The Parable of the Mustard Seed
He 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 earth; yet when it is sown it grows up and becomes the greatest of all shrubs, and puts forth large branches, so that the birds of the air can make nests in its shade.” With many such parables he spoke the word to them, as they were able to hear it; he did not speak to them except in parables, but he explained everything in private to his disciples.
In the two churches that I have served, I have been richly blessed to witness the ministry of prayer quilts. In this ministry, a group of (usually) women make quilts for people during significant stages of life – some of the quilts are made to celebrate the birth of a child or other joyous events. Others are made for those who are needing healing or dealing with difficult circumstances in life. The quilts are intended to be a physical representation of the prayers that surround that individual and their loved ones. When the quilt is made, its brought to worship on a Sunday and members of the congregation say prayers for that person and “tie off” parts of the quilt. These ties are not greatly obvious – they are the mustard seeds of the quilt – but they show the breadth of the love and care that is surrounding people in these times of life. I cannot tell you the power and the blessing that these quilts have been for people. The quilt pictured here today is one that was made for the birth of one of our children. It was a celebration of his birth and also a quilt to surround him for healing as he spent most of his first two weeks in the NICU.
Yesterday, we tied a quilt for a man named Jack. Jack was a long time member of our congregation and a dear man and deeply committed brother in Christ. He broke his hip a few weeks ago and had moved to rehab. Something happened, however, with his bloodwork and he passed away suddenly early yesterday afternoon. I am not sure the exact words to express this, but there is something powerful in the fact that we were all praying for him yesterday morning, even as he was in his final hours. In talking with his wife yesterday and again today, we will be finding a way to incorporate the quilt into his memorial service in the coming days.
Tying a knot – seeming a tiny act. Yet when someone receives one of these quilts, all those tiny acts – those tiny mustard seeds – of knots tied by those in worship, fabric measured, cut, and sown by those who put it together – those tiny mustard seeds grow into something beautiful, powerful, and transformative.