Third Sunday after Pentecost- Week of June 13, 2021
Begin your devotion time by praying this prayer: Creator God, through your Word we learn about you and the coming of your reign. Open our ears to hear and hearts to receive you, so that we might in turn share this good news with the world. Amen.
Reflect on the Way of Love together: This week’s practice on the Way of Love is LEARN. In this text, Jesus tells parables, or stories that teach us a lesson. Through what other Bible stories have you heard or learned about God’s love?
Adult and Small Child
Read: Mark 4:26-34
Reflect: I love how Jesus uses the smallest seed in this parable to show us what big things can grow out of something so small when being nurtured. We can help children grow in their faith by nurturing them as well. You can teach children about God and the stories in the Bible. You can show them God’s love by caring for and loving them. You can teach them how to love and care for their neighbor. Much like the seed soaks up the rainwater, children soak up all the things that adults say and do. When you are loving Jesus and growing in your faith you are showing the children in your life how to do the same.
Respond: Plant a flower seed together and watch it grow. You can start by putting a seed in a moist paper towel and placing it in a plastic bag. Then, attach the bag to a sunny window with tape. Then you can watch the seed sprout and begin to grow roots. Once your seed sprouts, you can transfer it to soil and watch the seed transform into a plant. How do you grow in your relationship with Jesus? The plant also has roots that nourishes it and support the flower as it grows. Who helps you grow in your faith? Who do you help grow in their faith?
- Kelly Benz
Adult and Elementary
Read: Mark 4:26-34
Reflect: My Buddy loved to tell stories. When he visited, we would sit around and listen to him tell the stories of his childhood. He would share with us his travels around the world. In all these stories there was always something happening just beneath the story. The older I got, the more I understood the message he was sharing within each story. He told us stories in a way that we could understand.
Jesus used this same style when speaking. We call them parables. Jesus used these stories so that his disciples can fully understand and learn about God. Not wanting us to be confused with his message, he talked in ways “they were able to hear.” On the surface, they are just stories, but if we really listen, we can hear and learn what Jesus is telling us. In today’s reading from Mark, Jesus is telling those who are listening about the Kingdom of God. He speaks of the Kingdom of God in a way that makes us use our imagination.
Respond: Reread the parables in this reading from Mark. From what the text says, what can you say about the Kingdom of God? What is something you have learned about the Kingdom of God from the parable? How are some ways you would describe the Kingdom of God?
- Malcolm McLaurin
Adult and Youth
Read: Mark 4:26-34
Reflect: Things are not always as they appear. This is certainly true of human beings. We can’t really know what’s going on inside someone’s heart, so we are gentle with each other, knowing things are not always as they appear. This is also true of God’s work in the world and in us. Like the scattered seeds that finally sprout overnight when no one is looking, what seems like God’s silence may really be God at work, growing things in the dark (where all growth begins.) Like the tiniest mustard seed that ends up becoming the biggest bush, what starts with pain may end up being God securing our freedom and healing. How many times have we seen good things come from hard times? How many times have we given energy and effort and seen nothing happen, only to be surprised later when finally something unexpected emerges, maybe somewhere we didn’t even look. Things are not always as they appear, and God’s working in the world and in us is often surprising and unexpected, but if we are patient and attentive, we’ll soon see it.
Respond: Think about when things have not been as they appeared: perhaps someone who seemed unfriendly turned out to be a friend, or a time when something painful actually brought something good. Make a note of something in your life right now that feels painful or barren. Then, plant some seeds (a mustard seed?) in a cup or seedling tray. Give it what it needs. Be patient and attentive. As you daily check and tend to what God is doing in the dark, what you can’t see happening yet, pray about the thing you’ve identified. And even if nothing happens in your cup, look around for other places of growth in your life and in the world. Because God is at work. And soon God will reveal it.
- Sally Ulrey
Adult and Adults
Read: Mark 4:26-34
Reflect: Like others, I experimented with plants and gardening during the spring and summer of 2020. Since I live in an apartment, I couldn’t plant anything big, but I bought some seeds for herbs and veggies and planted them in pots that sat on my balcony. I was mildly successful. The basil plant grew beautifully, and I harvested one single hot pepper—but the tomatoes and the cilantro? Those didn’t quite make it. However, even with its difficulty, I found it so rewarding to nurture seeds; I harvested the best basil leaves that I used in summer salads and dinners. Through this process I learned that growing plants from seeds is hard work, takes patience, and really requires intentional nurturing.
In this text from Mark, we hear Jesus tell two parables. Jesus describes the kingdom of God as seeds, which eventually grow big and bear fruit in the world. But like with planting any seed, growing and tending the seeds of faith take work and patience. We nurture the growing of God’s kingdom through our engagement with spiritual practices, but for me, the place I always start is with learning. Reading Scripture, hearing others’ stories, and sharing my own experiences of God with others always lead me to discern where God is present and active in the world, and how I can share God’s love with others.
Respond: Each day this week, engage in a practice that helps you learn more about your faith and helps you discern where God is active in the world. Some ideas include: read a different passage of Scripture each day, read a theological writing or book, invite a friend or family member to share their own faith story with you, research the answer to a question you’ve always had about faith or God, etc.
- Victoria Hoppes