From this Seed
Sometimes, it's easy to feel small, inconsequential, unimportant.The problems of the world overwhelm us with their vastness, and feel impotent in the face of it all.
What are we, as Christians, called to do in the face of the huge problems facing our country and our world today?
In this Sunday's reflection, we explore what we are called to do, and how we are called to make a difference in the world.
From this Seed
Rev. Leanne Masters
Southern Heights Presbyterian Church
October 6, 2013
I remember the first time I really felt small and inconsequential. I was in college, and I and a couple of my friends were walking the campus late one night. We stopped in the back quad of the campus, sheltered from the streets, and laid down in the grass to watch the stars the best that we could in the Milwaukee city glow. As we laid there, looking up at the stars, I remember thinking, “all this, and I’m just such a little bitty thing. All this…I’m not so important, the world, the universe is so big…I’m just a speck in the galaxy…I am nothing.” I felt overwhelmed by the sense of my smallness in the universe, and I felt as if my life really did mean nothing in the grand scheme of things.
And I think that it’s really easy for us all to feel this way, that, when it comes to the world, we really are nothing, that we really do mean nothing, that we really have no impact, no part in the world, and what goes on in it. We are mostly confronted with this feeling when we are faced with something that is really truly bigger than we are. Perhaps it, like for me in this one instance, is the vastness of the universe and all that is in it, but more than likely, it is the problems in the world that we see around us, that we hear about, that we know about in the world that are bigger than we are. War, poverty, homelessness, disease, systems of abuse, hate, terror, terrible disasters…the list goes on and on. We hear about these things, we know about them, and we begin to feel very small, helpless, and hopeless in the face of them.
I revisited these feelings of my smallness and added to them that feeling of helplessness in the face of the greater problems of the world when I worked for the homeless shelter while in seminary. The problems that faced the women that I worked with were outside of my scope of ability to help with, and the problem of homelessness in general? I knew that there was little or nothing that I could do to change those systems which caused those that I worked with, and so many others, to be sleeping on the streets night after night.
We are promised by God that there is a greater kingdom that he is building, that he is bringing about, that will take these things away, that will re-create the world in the way that he would have it be…but these things are so big, so vast, so far reaching…and we are so small…how can there be anyway that we can make a difference, make a change, do anything to make them better, to help bring about the kingdom that God has promised, that God has proclaimed?
And so, we pray to God for the ability to have faith in what he has proclaimed, and the faith to hold onto the hope that he will bring it about…and in the mean time, we sit and wait, and hope and pray, and wait for God to do what God will do…because we are just so small.
But Christ calls to us, in the midst of feeling small and powerless. He reminds us that even the smallest of all the seeds, the mustard seed, has the ability to grow into a far reaching and powerful tree that could, conceivably, move an established plant away from where it is and into a different location, simply by taking root, and growing, and doing what it was intended to do.
Christ is reminding us that, even though we may be a small part of his creation, and even though we may feel and know this smallness, that, when we set out to do what it is that he has called us to do, the work that we do has the ability to grow and grow so big that it has the power to change the course of the pre-established things of this world.
We have the ability, through the work that we do that Christ has called us to, to change the course of the pre-established things of this world. We have the ability, we have the power to change the powers and the systems that are in this world, to make a difference, to make change, real change, in the world and in the lives of our sisters and brothers…if we only have faith in what God has called us to do in this world.
I saw this first hand, in spite of my feelings of helplessness and smallness, inside that building where I worked with the homeless of Chicago. I had one client who, due to her building, where she was also employed as building manager, being condemned, lost her home and her job in one fell swoop and found herself living in shelters. I did the best that I could by her, as did the other staff at the shelter, and slowly by slowly, she found her footing in the world again. She first found work, and then an apartment, and last I knew, she was successful and self-supporting… but more than that, she, herself, began to work on behalf of other homeless women, helping them to find their footing, find work, and find a home to live in. The small work that I and the rest of the staff there did that God had called me, called us, to do in that place combined with the small work that other staff had been called to do, and it took root, and it grew. It grew and it grew, in this woman’s life, and then…slowly by slowly, through the work that she had then been called to do, it grew and it grew, touching the lives of many others.
In our own small ways, by working for peace and justice in our community and in the world, we have the ability to make a witness of that peace and justice, and in doing so, it will eventually grow and grow and join together with other works of peace and justice…and break down systems of violence and injustice. In our own small ways, by working for love and kindness in our community and in the world, we have the ability to make a witness of that love and kindness, and in doing so, it will eventually grow and grow and join together with other works of love and kindness…and break down systems of hate and fear. In our own small ways, by working for all that is right and good in our community and in the world, we have the ability to make a witness of that which is right and good, and in doing so, it will eventually grow and grow and join together with other such works of peace and justice…and break down systems of sin and wrongdoing.
Sisters and brothers, no matter how small we may be, we have been given work to do in this world. And together, our small little works, done in the name of God, join together, and grow and grow…all we need to do to kick start us on that journey of growing the kingdom of God is just a little bit of faith that God’s works will do what God’s works will do, and that God’s work in this world truly will change the world.