Week 27 Sunday

Mustard and Mulberry Trees

Today’s scripture selection: Luke 17-18

Key Verses: Luke 17:6

     I’ve always liked the reference in the New Testament about the tiny mustard seed.  In fact, I liked it so much I named a blog about it.

     It’s just that the idea of the tiniest of seeds being the symbol for great faith inspires me when I need to be inspired the most.

     The thought that with just a small, almost imperceptible bit of faith – I can tell a big old Mulberry Tree to “be uprooted and planted in the sea” – I just like that image.  Even though I don’t have a clue what a Mulberry Tree looks like.

     I do, however, know what a mustard seed looks like – when I can find one.

     Apparently lots of people like the idea that a little mustard seed faith can move big obstacles out of the way – judging by the number of mustard seed references on the internet and in books all over the place.

     What we might forget is that in Luke, the reference to the mustard seed isn’t just a general reference to faith.

     It’s about forgiveness.

     Talking to his disciples, Jesus says that if someone sins against them – it’s o.k. to rebuke them.  (Translation: We don’t need to let everyone “get away” with any kind of abuse in the name of being “loving.”  It’s perfectly o.k. with Jesus to call out “foul” when a foul has really been committed.

     But there’s a catch – it seems there is always a catch.

     If, once confronted with their sin, that same person repents – we are to forgive them – period.  Even if they sin against us seven times in a day and seven times come back saying “I repent” – we are to forgive.

     No wonder the disciples, upon hearing this, exclaimed “Increase our faith!”

     And that is when the Lord mentioned the tiny mustard seed and what just even a little faith can do.

     So – celebrate the tiny mustard seed.  It’s a great symbol for faith.

     Just remember there is a call to action that goes along with the story.  It is a call to summon the faith needed to forgive, and love, time – and time – again.

Prayer: Father, increase and strengthen my faith, tiny as it sometimes is, so that I may fully love in your name.  AMEN.

By Paul Simrell

The Reverend Paul W. Simrell has served for over thirty years in a variety of congregational and institutional settings. He is a recognized minister with standing in the Virginia region of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in the United States and Canada and is nationally endorsed by the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) for specialized ministry in both pastoral counseling and chaplaincy. Ordained in 1982, he has served congregations in Kentucky, Texas, Florida, and Virginia. He currently serves as the pastor of Elpis Christian Church, a small, historic congregation located just a few miles west of Richmond, Virginia. Elpis is the Greek word meaning “expectant hope.” He also serves on the associate clinical staff of the Virginia Institute of Pastoral Care, Richmond, Virginia, both as a pastoral counselor and a ministerial assessment specialist, specializing in executive, clergy and relationship coaching. He is a graduate of the University of Florida and Lexington Theological Seminary and has done advanced clinical training in chaplaincy and pastoral counseling at the University of Kentucky Medical Center in Lexington, Kentucky, Children’s Medical Center and Parkland Hospital in Dallas, Texas and the Virginia Institute of Pastoral Care in Richmond, Virginia. He is a Certified Pastoral Counselor, an ACPE Practitioner, and a member of the American Association of Christian Counselors. He is a Certified Facilitator of the Prepare-Enrich relationship assessment and skills-building program and served as a volunteer chaplain for over twenty years with the CJW Medical Center campuses in Richmond, Virginia. His avocational interests include playing the piano and drawing. He is very happily married to his wife Elizabeth Yeamans Simrell, a free-lance writer, who is also a Certified Facilitator for the Prepare-Enrich program. Good company in a journey makes the way seem shorter. — Izaak Walton

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