January 21, 2018: teeny tiny GIANT

Pastor Steve Mechem

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Mark 4:30-33 New Revised Standard Version
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;

I have six seeds.

I plant them. And I watch where I have planted.

I am disappointed to discover that four of my seeds don’t grow, but one does.

I see a sprout come out of the ground.

I water it. I wait patiently.

The sprout becomes a tree-ling. A leaf or two pops out.

When its really cold outside, I cover my little tree.

I build a little fence around my to keep deer out.

I dig up the weeds around my tree and lay down mulch.

The first year my tree looks like a stick sticking out of the ground.

The second year my tree looks like a tree, small and cute.

By its fifth year, my tree is producing apples, and every year more apples fill its branches. (By the time my tree is struck by lightning, it has produced thousands of apples).

My tree produces more than apples.

Once, its roots dug so deeply into the ground that they broke through the sewer line leading away from my house. That was costly.

Once, in an ice storm, a long branch broke off my tree and landed on the windshield of my car. That was a costly fix.

After the lightning killed my tree, my uncle took some of the wood and made picture frames and furniture from it.

The rest of the wood was used in the fireplace, keeping the house warm through two winters.

It all started with one teeny tiny seed.
Oh what can come from one seed.

Each action we take, each response we make, each deed we do is a seed, perhaps small and insignificant, but who knows what it might become.

A woman says “no” when told to get to the back of the bus and a nation changing movement is underway.

A girl writes “me too” as a hashtag and a movement is born that promises to result in immense change in coming years in the way girls and women are treated by a mysoginistic culture.

A small church of 50 people in Santa Anna El Salvador decide that the needs of the 1000s affected by an earthquake takes precedent over their own pressing needs. Through hard work and sacrifice and contacts with friends in the states, 100’s of families find new homes and help, and an community of helping churches is formed.

A small seed, a teeny, tiny seed produces gigantic results.

We never know when we give, when we speak, when we reach out, when we act, what amazing thing may come from it.

I ask you to turn your attention to the golden rod insert in your bulletin. I am going to give you a list of 20 ideas for seed planting. Some are very general, some are specific. It is not an exhaustive list, but rather a idea sparker for you as you think of ways to plant seed, teeny tiny seeds that who knows, might produce gigantic results.

So, grab a pen. Write down some ideas. Let your creative juices flow.

Seed Planting:

1. Give something without thought of return.

I was at a Bojangles drive through over Christmas. I pulled up to the window to pay. The person at the window told me the car in front of me paid for my food. That was sweet.
- but think about it.
- pay someone’s grocery tab
- pay for a neighbor’s music lessons
- take a person shopping for clothes
- invest in a person’s education
- pay off somebody’s loan
- Give, but don’t do it to be thanked or recognized or to have a tax deduction.

maybe you can’t, but maybe you can

2. Serve where you are. Don’t look any further than your neighborhood, school, workplace…

-clean up, fix, help, join in, lift up, make a difference where you are.

3. Tip. Seriously. Ask wait staff what their least favorite day is to work. Most will say, Sunday, because of church folks with their small tips and constant complaining.

4. Volunteer
be a coach
serve at a food bank
be a tutor in a reading program
deliver meals on wheels
provide transportation

5. Pray and not in that “thoughts and prayers” kind of way. Pray real prayers for real people with real needs. Be specific and trust that God is at work.

6. Give somebody a break. People will mess up- they'll be rude, they’ll misspeak, they'll offend, they'll fail.

Forgive and move on.

Be a friend, be bigger. Be understanding.

7. See a need, meet a need.

A teenage girl in North Philadelphia noticed the number of homeless folks as her family would drive from downtown to their home. She started talking to people in her church about collecting blankets.

Within days, the folks of her church were making a concerted effort to share blankets and coats with the homeless in their community.

The youth group at FBC in New London, New Hampshire was moved by the number of people in poverty in New Hampshire and started to collect pennies. Everybody in the church and community brought pennies for the project and the group collected 60,000 pennies- a penny for each child in poverty in New Hampshire.

Word of the project spread and over time, around the country, 14 million pennies have been raised and used in ministry for children in poverty.

See a need. Meet a need.

8. Carry food or care packages in your car to give to the homeless. Some of us feel uncomfortable giving money to people at the intersection, but some food or gloves or socks might be greatly appreciated.

9. Listen to understand.
Don’t listen to respond.
Quit thinking about your comeback.
Don’t listen to debate.
Listen to understand.

10. Share your story— the real one, not the one that makes you look good or sounds righteous. Somebody needs to hear about your struggles and your journey.

11. Share a good word when others are gossiping about someone.

12. Stand with the bullied

When I was in high school, I didn’t eat lunch. I generally sat in a common area next to the Cafeteria during lunch break.

There was a boy in my class named Jeffrey and Jeffrey was developmentally disabled. He would walk through the common area every day as he went from one class to the next.

There were some knuckleheads who would say stupid stuff and make obnoxious comments to Jeffrey.

So, I decided that every day, as Jeffrey walked through the Commons area, I would walk with him. We would talk as we walked and the bullies left him alone.

At least for that semester.

How can you stand with a class mate, or a neighbor, or a co-worker who is being gossiped about, or excluded or bullied?

13. In every conversation, find a reason to encourage. Encouragement is a necessarr, but dying art in our culture.

14. Compliment freely. It costs you nothing to be nice, to be kind.

15. Diversify yourself.

Not your portfolio but you. Engage with others. Become acquaintances and friends with folks of

other races,
other religions,
other sexual identities,
other social statuses,
even fans of other sports teams. (shh! Cardinals fans and Cubs fans can get along just fine).

16. Write your congressman, stand up, be heard.

Lots of my friends on facebook, who are not practicing Christians, keep asking the question, “where are all the Christians?”

Where are the Christians to stand for the discriminated against, the left behind, to stand against the hypocrisy of the church, to stand for a separation of religion and government, to stand for grace and kindness and truth.

Its time for folks to hear from us,
“Here we are,
loving, caring, serving, accepting, striving, standing for what is right and fair.”

17. Say hello- to family and to complete strangers. Smile. Look people in the eye. Say hello. Let’s practice. Turn to your neighbor and say hello. Just for fun, say to them Gra-a-la-gay. Good morning.

18. Know your neighbor. Learn a name, figure out their favorite team, learn what kind of beer they drink, host a cook out, play a game, have a conversation.

19. Write a note, send an email, make a call.

20. Extend a hand.

You meet people daily who are looking for a hand- not a hand out, but a hand up.
They may be strangers, or they may be family, or they may sit next to you in church. They need someone who cares, who responds, who steps out of comfort zones and makes a difference.

There is an old story, popular as a sermon illustration, about a mother and her daughter walking along the beach. The tide has just gone out and in its receding it left hundreds of star fish and crabs, left without way back to the water.

The daughter is distraught and says to her mom, “what can we do, we can’t save them all.”

The mother picks up a starfish and carries it down to the water and throws it in.

She turns to her daughter and says, “Maybe we can’t help them all, but we can help this one.”

And with that, they began to pick up starfish and crabs and carrying the to the water.

One act at a time.

A teeny tiny seed producing unknown, perhaps gigantic, results.

Amen.