March 5, 2017
Today I taught the parable of the mustard tree to my group of Kindergarteners at San Francisco’s City Church. In the story, Jesus’ followers ask him to describe the Kingdom of Heaven, or Kingdom of God. He describes it like a mustard seed, which starts out as the tiniest seed, but which grows quickly and, rather than bearing stunning fruits, simply bears more seeds. At the same time, the growing mustard tree provides shelter for birds that come to nest in it.
I love this as a metaphor for the seed of kindness or love that lies within each of us. If we allow our seed to grow and thrive, we ourselves become a warm and welcoming shelter to those we encounter through our friendship. The children’s book If You Plant Seed, by Kadir Nelson, echoes this theme and is a favorite in our family.
Inspired by the parable, this was the bedtime prayer I shared with my three boys this evening:
Gracious and loving God,
We thank you for this day.
We thank you for planting a seed of love
in each one of us,
a seed that we can nurture and grow,
and, in doing so,
become a warm and welcoming shelter
to our friends, family, and community.
Thank your for planting these seeds
in all of our hearts,
whether rich or poor,
hurting or ashamed,
angry or jealous,
confused or sad.
We know that these seeds
need only our kind attention
for a few moments every day,
and they can swiftly grow
As they grow within us, we thank you
for enabling us to plant seeds of love
in the hearts of those around us
through our openness and joy,
our strength and inspiration,
so that each of us becomes a loving shelter
to others and to the world.
For the Kingdom of God
is within each of us,
and embraces the sum of us.
In Jesus’ name we pray.