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Daily Devotions from Fourth Presbyterian Church

Tuesday, March 22, 2022  

Today’s Scripture Reading  |  Luke 13:18–21

He said therefore, “What is the kingdom of God like? And to what should I compare it? It is like a mustard seed that someone took and sowed in the garden; it grew and became a tree, and the birds of the air made nests in its branches.”

And again he said, “To what should I compare the kingdom of God? It is like yeast that a woman took and mixed in with three measures of flour until all of it was leavened.” (NRSV)

In the early 1990s, I attended a leadership retreat near Santa Fe, New Mexico. As part of that experience, we visited a “permaculture” site on one of Georgia O’Keefe’s former properties. I had never heard of permaculture. It was apparently big in Australia. I’ve since heard that there are more permaculturists in the United States but haven’t followed the movement.

What strikes me about this passage, especially the mustard seed, is what the permaculture environment taught me. When we are conscious of how all the elements in our environment interact with each other, we can be more fruitful and plentiful in how we grow things or support things that grow. In the permaculture, there is great attention to the canopy of trees, how they give shade, supply homes for all kinds of birds and insects, and how, while they are drinking from the natural water table, they are also giving water in how rain falls and is distributed to everything under the canopy.

Look at your life. How do the elements in your environment work to support each other? This is God’s gift. And we can be more conscious of it, attending to the growth that feeds all creatures. This imagery may be difficult in the urban environment where many of us live, but it’s still there.

At Fourth Church it is how people contribute to Meals Ministry, for example. A complicated supply chain of producers, packagers, volunteers, and staff produce a feast for guests who need food. We pray with these guests for their safety and growth, bringing them under our canopy. Who knows how they use this growth in their environment?

We are all contributing to God’s kingdom.

Dear Lord, thank you for being the canopy that we all need to live and thrive. Help us to see how this web of interactions can benefit all, and help me see how I can contribute to it. Amen.

Written by Maggie Shreve, Pastoral Associate for Jail Ministry

Reflection and prayer © Fourth Presbyterian Church

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