June 16, 2024: Seed, Branch or Bird?

tiny mustard seed

Fourth Sunday after Pentecost

Seed, Branch or Bird?

In today’s Gospel lesson, as in other Gospel passages, Jesus tries to explain the Kingdom of God to his followers. Not just the kingdom of some future or far off place … but the kingdom here and now:

“…your kingdom come…on earth as it is in…” So what might Jesus be wanting to teach us through the imagery of a small bird taking shelter in a shrub that grew from the tiniest of seeds?

As Jesus seeks to explain what the Kingdom of God is like, he most often uses something that begins small and then becomes great —yeast, small plantings, mustard seeds. The prophets of old shared big visions—great dreams, the big picture—but in Jesus’ teachings he frequently uses the tiny, the seemingly insignificant. Perhaps Jesus places a bird taking shelter in a shrub that grew from a tiny seed to illustrate not so much the seemingly insignificant beginning, but rather the purpose of the result.

We are the Kingdom of God. We are Kingdom builders. Isn’t this passage like Matthew 25: “I was hungry, and you fed me; naked and you clothed me…”? Isn’t Jesus reminding us that as we build his Kingdom here on earth, the Kingdom is to provide—shelter, care, love? Isn’t “the other” the heart of Jesus’ teaching?

There are times I am that little bird on the branch seeking shelter from worry, pain, fear. There are other times when I am the shrub, offering shelter, comfort, care. And that’s who we truly are—Christ’s people, the Church, God’s Kingdom in service to and for the risen Christ.

Who are you? A seed waiting to be planted? A branch offering shelter? A bird searching?

Marie Couts, Gnadenhutten, Ohio
Eastern District Christian Education Ministry