The Power of Little Things
Pastor Diane Gordon
Mt Pleasant FUMC
July 30, 2017
Scriptures: Romans 8:26-39 and Matthew 13: 31-33, 44-46
††††††††† Itís easy to overlook the small things, as if they were inconsequential, lacking in power to do much of anything. But small things turn out to be the heart of Jesusí description of what the kingdom of heaven is like.
††††††††† Mustard seeds and yeast were ordinary things in daily life for Jesus. There was nothing particularly special about the bush that grew from the mustard seed either. Plain, ordinary, small, commonplace things that turn out to grow exponentially and influence their surroundings profoundly was Jesusí message.
††††††††† The kingdom of heaven starts out small and then transforms the environment, creating a space that provides home for some, shade for others, and creates lightness and lift in the sustenance used to feed and nourish.
††††††††† God does that a lot Ė using small actions, an observation of something which isnít all that remarkable, but it triggers a thought or an idea that starts something that turns out to be life altering.
††††††††† This is what happened in Grand Rapids when an elementary principal noticed a little girl picking food out of the trash and sneaking it into her pocket for later. This child knew that when she got home that night, there would be no food for supper. She had been hungry the night before and the night before that, so she rescued bits of other kidsí lunches to save for later. She knew it was easier to sleep when your tummy isnít growling.
††††††††† The principal couldnít get it off her mind so she talked with a friend about it later that week. Her friend suggested that perhaps a sack supper might be made for the girl, to be sent home daily so she didnít have to face embarrassment picking trash in the lunch room. Kids can be quite cruel, we know.
††††††††† So, from a simple observation and a small suggestion, Kidís Food Basket was birthed. What the principal discovered that there were dozens, then hundreds and actually, now thousands of children going home to food insecure situations. Kidís Food Basket has spread to other communities in West Michigan and volunteers pack sandwiches, fresh vegies, fruit and juice boxes by the thousands and deliver them to the schools where students quietly receive their supper to take home.
††††††††† A mustard seed of an idea grew to provide nourishment for hungry children. The program grew exponentially as people learned of the need. Corporations donated packing tables, walk-in refrigerators, food and #8 sacks. Other volunteers sometimes decorate the sacks, so kids get a cheerful message to ponder as they eat. Somebody cares. Somebody you donít even know cared enough to give you this.
††††††††† This is how the kingdom of God works. Here in Mt. Pleasant, the Community Compassion Network organizes a mobile food pantry every other week, giving food to hundreds of your neighbors. And on the weekends opposite those of the Mobile Food Pantry bags of food are given to school children who are going home to food insecure situations. This effort is named the Nutrition Club. CCN is joined by area churches and volunteers who fund this effort, pack and distribute the food. Half of our childrenís VBS mission offering is going to Nutrition Club and snacks for Pullen School.
††††††††† The kingdom of heaven grows from some small idea, to life-changing, big impact transformations. But what of the pearl and the treasure? They are not big, and they donít grow. They are small things of great value; sought after, sometimes hidden and when discovered they become the motivation for life transformation.
††††††††† The hidden treasure and pearl give rise to a total life makeover Ė selling all that they had to gain the treasure. The kingdom of heaven is worth more than anything else, more than all the stuff we can accumulate, all the things of this world that we are told we should want. But if we are honest, we donít always do a very good job of spending our time or treasure to attain the kingdom of heaven.
††††††††† What might that look like, to shift our priorities to seeking first the kingdom of heaven? If we hear Jesus correctly, it is worth giving up everything else; the hours of mindless entertainment, the rental fees for all the stuff we put in storage because we didnít have room for it in our residence, the big house downsized to a just-right space. The list is as unique as every individual. What are we willing to give to have the joy of heaven?
††††††††† First, we must give our hearts. Loving God over anything else. Loving neighbor as much as we love ourselves, to the point that we live the golden rule, doing to others as we would have them do to us.
††††††††† Second, we give our time Ė time spent in conversation with God, with Jesus, with whatever part of the Trinity most relatable for you. Then we give time to conversations with people around us, creating a sense of community, like we talked about last week. We put down our phones, tablets and computers and actually interact with the living, breathing individuals in the room.
††††††††† Then, we pursue the good that God has in mind for us and our world with everything weíve got. We create opportunities to meet the needs of those around us Ė whether that need is food, shelter, clothing, education, health care, or simply fellowship; having good, clean fun together.
††††††††† Pursuing the common good can be difficult. The needs are complicated and relentless. Evil influences will ridicule and take advantage, but our pursuit must continue, knowing that in the end, good conquers evil. In the end, Godís kingdom will prevail. Jesus came to point us to the path that is narrow Ė a small thing, once again. Itís rarely easy, but it leads us to the treasure that is heaven.
††††††††† There is power in small things. When you put a lifetime of small things working for the good together, youíll find contentment and peace because there will be no regrets. We will have done all the good we can, as long as ever we can, in every way, shape and form we could. Lives were impacted and God smiled.
††††††††† May it be so for all of us. Amen.