Thursday, July 26, 2007

Seeds in the City

Sometimes I feel very, very small.

That feeling may just be another symptom of encroaching middle age. In youth, if the world doesn't revolve around you at least you feel like a pretty big player in it. Invincible. Eternal. The older you get (I've come to discover) the smaller you get. The world becomes impossibly large. You, a speck, a drop in the sea of time and space.

These are not, perhaps, the kinds of thoughts one is expected to have in the company of teenagers on a church trip. But this particular trip - service in New York City - kindled just those kinds of thoughts for me. On one hand, a city of amazing proportions, people everywhere, millions of intesecting intentions, motivations and beliefs, the inevitable glimpses of terrible human brokenness. On the other, tiny, seemingly insignificant acts of kindness.

And so who are we to imagine that picking up a paintbrush is going to make much a difference to anyone? And cleaning out some damp church basement? How does that reflect the kingdom? How does that impact the world?

In human terms probably not very much. But, as it is said, we are not called to greatness; we are called to faithfulness. The kingdom of God, in this regard, is rather a small thing.

Jesus understood smallness. After all, he spoke of the mustard seed, the smallest of all seeds. He spoke of a little yeast leavening the whole dough. He spoke of a little cup of water given to one who is thirsty, an act of heavenly proportions.

We're not called to greatness; we're called to faithfulness. In a sense you might say we are called to smallness. In our care of the small things we are trusting God in a big way.

It seems to me that many folks struggle to make sense of what it means to follow Jesus in our world. Perhaps the idea seems so impossibly huge, so beyond reach, best left to the experts. But we would do well to reflect on that little mustard seed. A tiny thing, like the thousands of moments each day, so ordinary and insignificant. Seeds of the kingdom.

Be small. Follow Jesus.

+ tjk