One of the more vivid images in scripture is that of the mustard seed, the tiny seed capable of growing into a majestic tree. Jesus offers the mustard seed as a metaphor or illustration suggesting that this tiniest of seeds can produce a great flourishing, abundant shelter for more feathered friends than could be imagined.     

In recent weeks the Christ Church Foundation has sponsored a series of Sunday morning forums. By them we hope to awaken in this congregation unimagined possibilities that will flourish long beyond our lifetimes. A simple legacy gift--setting aside a small portion of one’s estate today (as if the size of a mustard seed) can, with time and grace, grow into a very great abundance whose flourishing will provide significant resources for the ministry of Christ Church in the future. We recently learned that a 19th century gift to the church by one of the daughters of Robert E. Lee became the “seed” around which the endowment of Christ Church (the Christ Church Foundation) has flourished over time. That generosity so long ago has benefited generations of Christ Church members since. Similar intentions and gifts planted today will also flourish, providing resources for new generations in the future. 

I have made previous reference to David Trueblood. In the spirit of Jesus, David once said: "People have made a start at understanding the meaning of life when they plant trees under which they know they will never sit." We recognize Jesus’ parable of the mustard seed in David’s vision of a bigger, better future. 

The trees under which we sit today were planted by seed bearers knowing they would not live long enough to see these trees mature. They lived with a hope made real by faith. Because they were given to by others from long ago, they chose to “pay it forward” that their descendants be able to live with similar blessing, bounty and flourishing.  What a way to live! Giving to and blessing others in thanksgiving for the blessings received through the hands/hearts from those whom we will never know.     

As with trees, so with the church. The seeds we plant today can and will flourish.What could begin as a small seed might well become a mighty and flourishing ministry in the future. In that spirit of giving what we have received, I am reminded of my father. Seeds planted in his lifetime, even those sowed as he was dying continue to live in perpetuity.     

The provisions my father established in his will clearly affirmed the priorities of his life—loves and commitments lasting long into the future. Three gifts were to come “off the top” of his estate: one for his alma mater, one to the local hospital to which he was devoted, and one to the church we called our spiritual home and from which he was buried. His intentions, reflecting the priorities of his life, have left an indelible mark on my life. I intend to do the same.