Mustard SeedNext Sunday is Pentecost.  50 days after Passover.  It is sometimes called the Feast of Weeks in celebration of the giving of the Law of Moses on Mt. Sinai. This feast is still celebrated as Shavuot.

Later, in the Christian liturgical year, it is also a feast commemorating the event during which disciples of Jesus coalesced  into what we now call the church.

Frankly, it is surprising that the Christian Pentecost ever happened when you consider what a mess the disciples of Jesus were post-crucifixion.  Peter had denied he ever knew Jesus.  Thomas, after hearing the resurrection rumors, said, “I’ll never believe it unless I put my finger in the wounds.

Judas betrayed Jesus in the most awful, public way by planting a big betrayal kiss on his cheek.  Right after the kiss , religious leaders led Jesus away to his kangaroo trial.  Of the twelve apostles, only one hung around that could be spotted at the foot of the cross on which Jesus was dying.

Luke tells a story about a man named Cleopas who probably mirrored what everyone else was feeling.  He just walked away from Jerusalem.  I think to blend in with the countryside.  To hope that maybe he would not be associated with an apparently failed movement.   Perhaps hoping his best friend would not say, “Boy, were you stupid to follow that Jesus guy.”

Which points out how paradoxical this all is.  Failure wasn’t.  Cowardice gave birth to courage.  Darkness birthed light.  Betrayal became a friend of faithfulness.  What looked like insignificant and small became huge.

Jesus predicted this would happen.  He called it a mustard-seed event.  It’s like microscopic yeast working in a pile of dough, turning it into a loaf of bread.  It’s like a tiny seed that grows into a large bush which shelters birds.  Small becomes large.

Because of small events in Jerusalem centuries ago, the church spread over the globe.  We see the truth of that paradox in other things too.  A woman sells a food product that she cooks in her small kitchen, and it grows into a large national corporation.  A man invents a widget which can later be found in homes all over the world.  Small becomes large.

It’s a paradox.  Not the way we expect things to operate.  Which proves that a small beginning is not necessarily a bad thing.