mustard seedLast weekend, my Sunday School class studied the parable of the mustard seed.  In case you’re not familiar with it, here is the New International Version.

31 He told them another parable: “The kingdom 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.” (Mathew 13:31-32)

As always happens when we discuss something like this, we get into what it means. Aunt Nettie, my great aunt, taught me that the mustard seed represented faith. In Nettie’s world, even a faith as small as this smallest seed could grow and provide shelter for those in need.

Of course her interpretation wasn’t the only one, but one of the others really rocked me back.  In this view, the birds were vultures, birds of evil, perching in and around the church.  They represented the evil that has worked its way into the church.

(chirp, chirp, chirp.)

For those of you who don’t know that sound, it is a cricket.  You certainly could have heard it in our classroom right that minute.

“Don’t you think the world is more evil now than ever before?”

Um, no.  But why do I feel like a goose for admitting that?  We may not have achieved true equality, there is violence in the world and children go to bed hungry at night.  There is bad but there is also good.  There are people using their faith to build up the places that shelter, feed and otherwise assist those in need.

Those are the people that Nettie taught me to look for in any given situation – the helpers and those doing good.  Once I find them, I can join them and work to add just a bit more to the shelter of that Faith tree.