From Small Beginnings

As Jesus continues his teaching by using parables, we see that in Matthew 13: 31-33 & 44-52 He says, ďThe Kingdom of Heaven is like 'a mustard seed'. ďThe Kingdom of Heaven is like 'yeast'Ē.

At first reading we might thing neither illustrations are particularly inspiring, but Jesusí listeners would think differently.

They knew that the tiny mustard seed grew into one of the largest of the shrubs. At about 3m to 4m (10 to 12ft) high it was big enough for birds to roost.

As for yeast, it isn't even visible in the mix, but it transforms a heavy dough to make a lighter and softer bread. It makes it better. In comparison to the quantity of flour used to make bread, the amount of yeast is tiny, yet its effects are out of all proportion to its size.

What encouragement for those disciples and those who would go on to be the early Christian community.

How vulnerable and insignificant this small group of local people may have felt at the thought of having to face a huge, hostile world. They may have been small in number, but with Jesus, they could now see the potential for growth and change.

For us today, no matter how inadequate or ineffective we may imagine ourselves to be, we help bring in the Kingdom of Heaven when we share God's love. Things that are said, help that is given, something we may have done for someone, the example we show.

When we are enthused, when we are excited about God, it can catch the interest of others.

And with that imagery of growth and transformation drawn from the parables of the Mustard Seed and Yeast, Jesus goes on to speak of the personal commitment to Godís Kingdom.

In the parables of the man who found the buried treasure and the Pearl Merchant, both were prepared to sacrifice everything they had to secure what they had found; such was itís worth.

The clear message is that the Kingdom of Heaven is beyond value; itís priceless. Yet, it is available to all. But just as in the parables of the Buried Treasure and the Pearl Merchant, it is something for which we must be prepared to give our all.

The Church grew from a handful of people, initially confined mostly around Galilee. It had to contend with persecution from the religious establishment of the time, the indifference of many, attempts by the Roman Empire to destroy it and opposition from Pagan nation after Pagan nation.

Despite all that, it spread to every corner of the world. Those people changed the world in the power of God.

They went into the world, they preached the Good News, they changed minds, hearts and lives with that message; their work and Godís power changed the world.

All that from the humblest and tiniest of beginnings. And we have the responsibility and the privilege of being part of that ongoing work.

Yes, we may feel daunted, but we should remember that the Kingdom of Heaven firstly transforms the person and can then transform the World.

It starts with us as individuals, however that comes about. Our willingness to accept Christ's invitation transforms us.

Albert Schweitzer, the German theologian and medical missionary reminds us, ďThere can be no Kingdom of God in the world without the Kingdom of God in our heartsĒ.

With Godís Word in our heart we, His Church, can work away, like yeast, transforming and changing for the better, the lives of those we meet.

Whatever we do as God's People, no matter how small, no matter how apparently insignificant, God can turn it into something great.

Seemingly small things can make an extraordinary difference to someone's life: a word of encouragement, the comfort and support given by friendship, a kindness shown.

So then, let us go out and continue to work for God's Kingdom; each in our own little way.

Let us pray,

Almighty and Gracious God, as your people, we are called to work together to help bring your Kingdom to the World, bit by bit. Help us to be strong and faithful in that work.

Help us by our words and our actions to be as yeast and to make a difference in the lives of those whom we know and where we live. Bless us as we strive to play our part, even in a small way, in the growth of your Church and your Kingdom.

And as we pray for the growth of your Church world-wide, we pray too for growth in us. Let those around us, where we live, see the effects of your love in us.

This day we pray for those whose focus is only on this world and what the world offers and are blind to the riches of your Kingdom; riches of peace, contentment, and love.

May they open their hearts to experience the warmth and fullness of the real life you bring. May they open their ears to hear the words of those who tell of your love.

Amen and may we all grow strong in Godís love.

Alan.