Growing into a Tree
Matthew Chapter 13:31 “He told them another parable: The kindom of heaven is like a mustard seed, which a man took and planted in his field. 32 Though it is the smallest of all seeds, yet when it grows, it is the largest of garden plants and becomes a tree, so that the birds come and perch in its branches.”
This message is simple. The construction of God’s kindom takes place here on earth when hearts and hands are put together to heal our communities from the sins of war, hunger, and poverty.
The mustard seed is tiny, less than half an inch. At first sight, it doesn’t seem capable of solving any problems … until it grows … and becomes a big tree where birds are welcomed to nest. A small seed can be a mighty thing when it falls into the ground and transforms.
I grew up in El Salvador in a neighborhood many would label as “sketchy.” It was a complex of apartment buildings like what the projects look like in the United States. I loved living there because we were a tight community and cared and loved each other. As a child I felt protected.
We had no green areas or playgrounds. But the neighbors always knew what to do to solve the problems around us. So, one afternoon, they organized a planting trees drive.
I remember the day so vividly. Everybody brought out their gardening tools: shovels, buckets, and plants they had bought. The children were put to work under the supervision of our parents. It was fun. We played, we laughed, and we saw an arid ground become green.
Every time I visit the place where I grew up in El Salvador, a 30 feet tall tree I planted that afternoon welcomes me. The power of that little branch that I planted 40 years ago now provides shade to many.
Is it often like that? a vision, a dream begins with small baby steps, and then it grows especially when others become invested in its success. I think that this is the beauty of this scripture, we don’t have to start big to begin to change the world.
We can always be a mustard seed with the certainty that the God that called us, will grant their immeasurable, limitless, borderless grace to grow into something bigger than ourselves. All we need to do is put our seed into the ground, and then abandon ourselves to God’s immense ability to make miracles happen through us.
Let’s not forget many social movements have started this way. The civil rights movement took many years of planning and preparation before it had people inundating the streets in DC. Dear siblings, I don’t know what mustard seed you may be carrying in your heart and your mind. But God knows, and wants you to let go into the ground, and then wait, and then trust, until we are trees, until we are trees.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Reverend Rhina Ramos is the National Coordinator for Encuentros Latinx for the United Church of Christ and also serves as the pastor of Ministerio Latino in Oakland, CA.