North Alabama Conference
898 Arkadelphia Road
Birmingham, AL 35204
Within Alabama: 800-239-7950
|As a member or alternate member of Annual Conference, you will receive an e-devotional once a week until Annual Conference 2014 begins. Please use these meditations, based on the theme for this year, to prepare for our worshipful work together.
He told another parable to them: “The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed that someone took and planted in his field. It’s the smallest of all seeds. But when it’s grown, it’s the largest of all vegetable plants. It becomes a tree so that the birds in the sky come and nest in its branches.”
–Matthew 13:31-32 (CEB)
How difficult it was for Jesus to get the apostles and disciples to understand the big picture! They too often seem, like us, to be limited in their vision of who he is, what he came to do, and the limitless power of his kingdom. So he tells this parable of the small mustard seed which is indeed a tiny thing but often grows annually into a plant 10 to 12 feet in height.
Where, when, and how did you first begin to learn about Jesus and his gift of limitless Love for you? Was it at your mother’s knee or in a Sunday School class? Did a school classmate introduce Jesus to you? Or perhaps it was colleague at work whose example and faith caused you to examine your life in the light of Christ’s teachings and sacrifice!
Wherever and however the first small seed or seeds of faith in Jesus were planted, the more important question now for you and in the Kingdom, is how have those seeds grown?
On the Bishop’s recent Holy Land pilgrimage I sat one day in the Church of the Sepulchre near the stone slab upon which the body of Jesus is supposed to have been placed after he was taken from the cross. I watched wave after wave of Christians in all kind of dress from many different parts of the world kneel on the floor and lovingly touch the stone in adoration. Some bent forward to kiss it, others brought out rosaries or prayer beads or handkerchiefs. I could not help but be impressed with the power of His One Life in the lives of so many through the generations and now.
The parable is about the spread and growth of the Kingdom. Perhaps the greatest question for you, me, our churches, and our annual conference in 2014 is not how has the seed of the Kingdom been planted in us or grown in our lives, but how, when, and where are we planting the seed of faith in others and in our communities?
Thanks be to God for those who planted and nurtured the seed of faith in me!
O God of love and kingdom power, we are richly blessed by generations of faithful mustard seed sowers. We are the fruit of their labor--our hands filled, as theirs once were, with the faith seeds of the future. We plant in expectant hope of these tiny grains becoming great kingdom-growing trees. Amen.
Rev. Don Neal
Executive Director of Board of Ordained Ministry and Superannuate Homes
North Alabama Conference