All That You Need: On Faith and Mustard Seeds

Luke 17:5-10

It has been blooming from a crack in my driveway all summer long.

I did not plant it there, of course, but I have often planted petunias along the driveway side of my house just a few feet away. Even so, it is not the sort of plant which survives the winter — at least not the types of winters we have here in Northern Illinois — and it is certainly not the type one can expect to return another year. For that matter, its living conditions this summer have been less than ideal. In spring and summer we had too much rain and then in mid summer we did not have nearly enough. It is planted in a driveway and has been driven over the top of countless times. And from what I can tell, it has very little good soil into which it has sunk its roots. I have done absolutely nothing to nurture this hardy little plant. And yet, there it has been been, day after day, week after week, gracing my driveway with its bright purple blooms, brightening my day all summer long.  And with all of this, I’m certain its original seed was certainly no larger than a mustard seed. And just look at it.

It doesn’t take much, Jesus tells the disciples and all of us today.  It takes such a tiny bit of faith to change the world. Such a tiny bit. Sometimes all you have to do is simply get that seed close to soil and everything is different from there on out.

And so it is that tonight I am thinking about small things which hold so much power.

  • A word of encouragement offered at just the right time.
  • Or a spoken reminder that you belong.
  • Or a look or a glance nodding you in the right direction.

Or, in our life of faith:

  • A splash of water in baptism which promises to keep at bay all that would take life and which will surely be the beginning of an even deeper life and a richer hope.
  • A bit of bread and a sip of wine which brings with it a whole remarkable, amazing story of betrayal and sacrifice and life and death in our behalf.
  • Or the sign of the cross I have traced on two of our beloved in these last days — two who have lived deep into their eighties and who in recent hours will have joined once more beloved spouses, children, siblings, parents, friends who have gone before.

Small things, all of these, but just like that seed blooming in my driveway and like the mustard seed of faith of which Jesus speaks today, they hold so much power. Passed on like a seed from generation to generation to generation, they are somehow not diminished along the way, they are all the stronger for having been breathed once more into the heart of yet  another generation.

Oh yes, Jesus says today if we have faith the size of a mustard seed (and the grammar says to us “and you do”) then you can do the seemingly impossible.

It doesn’t take much. And you have more than enough. And isn’t that something?

  • What small things which hold so much power come to your mind today as you hear Jesus’ words of encouragement now? Jesus compares faith to a mustard seed. To what would you compare it?
  • I am in the midst of an unreal stretch of funerals. I officiated at three last week and I have three scheduled for this week. So far. I take great courage from Jesus’ promise that while I feel I have too little carrying me now, it will still be all that I need — this mustard seed of faith. How do Jesus’ words lift you up today? How do his words speak power into your present circumstance?
  • I offer above the image of a petunia blooming in my driveway as an example inspired from ‘faith the size of a mustard seed.’ What images come to mind for you?



  1. Ginny Hall says:

    An image that comes to my mind is a crocus popping out amidst a drift on snow as the bright sun glistens on the white icy fluff. Faith bursting forth with perseverance, courage and strength.

  2. Ernie Rex says:

    Listening & reading Kate Bowler, influencing this thought. Biblically, lament is a faithful response and often amid tears and grief laughter is often heard at funerals as stories are shared. Reminds me God is present.

  3. Judy Bergeson says:

    Family, family, family. I am still smiling about a visit last weekend of cousins from Southern California whom I hadn’t seen for years, some new-to-me, when I got a phone call from my beloved son saying he’s coming for a visit soon. Small things? Maybe to someone else. This is all glorious news to me and fills my heart with joy!!!

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