Courage Was Born
Mark 4: 26-34 (NRSVA)
26 He also said, ‘The kingdom of God is as if someone would scatter seed on the ground, 27 and would sleep and rise night and day, and the seed would sprout and grow, he does not know how. 28 The earth produces of itself, first the stalk, then the head, then the full grain in the head. 29 But when the grain is ripe, at once he goes in with his sickle, because the harvest has come.’
30 He also said, ‘With what can we compare the kingdom of God, or what parable will we use for it? 31 It is like a mustard seed, which, when sown upon the ground, is the smallest of all the seeds on earth; 32 yet when it is sown it grows up and becomes the greatest of all shrubs, and puts forth large branches, so that the birds of the air can make nests in its shade.’
33 With many such parables he spoke the word to them, as they were able to hear it; 34 he did not speak to them except in parables, but he explained everything in private to his disciples.
In the world of international politics and human rights, it would be hard to imagine a tinier mustard seed than an 11 year old Pakistani girl. Yet that is how old Malala Yousafzai was when she began to blog for the BBC about living under the threat of being denied an education by the Taliban. When her identity was revealed she received numerous accolades for her advocacy of education for girls. She also received death threats. In 2012, when she was 15, a gunman boarded the bus on which she was travelling home from school, asked for her by name, and shot her in the head. Miraculously she survived without major brain damage, although she required extensive surgery. Nine months after being shot, on her 16th birthday, she gave a speech at the UN focusing on education and women’s rights. Malala’s experience and her willingness to lead by example, even while remaining a Taliban target, have led thousands of others to support her work. Speaking after the attack, she said, “the terrorists thought that they would change our aims and stop our ambitions, but nothing changed in my life except this: weakness, fear and hopelessness died. Strength, power and courage were born.”
A mighty tree indeed from such a small seed.
God of small things,
How easy it is to make excuses, to consider myself too small, too weak, too ineffectual to make a difference.
And yet the small things I do, the small things we each do, can make a difference
Within my unassuming frame, upholding my timorous spirit, is the explosive power of the gospel.
David grew from shepherd to king. Most of us are not called to grow to such heights, but we are called to grow.
Together we are more than individual leaders and followers.
May we, your church, be a canopy of grace, sheltering the small seeds of justice, righteousness, grace and mercy, wherever they grow.
In Jesus’ name