"I am the vine; you are the branches." — John 15:5

“Of Water, Born” – Thursday, March 4, 2021

St. Helen’s Daily Lenten Devotional

Consider the mustard seed. (The parable can be found in Matthew 13:31f; Mark 4:30f; and Luke 13:18f)A great image of God’s Kingdom…out of a small seed grows much.  There is dispute, of course, about which mustard plant, or bush or tree Jesus meant(or even knew about, in that era). And the seed is not literally the smallest of all seeds, now known to us(that honour goes to a species of orchid).  And we, familiar with hot dogs and/or gourmet menus, might well think of the mustard seed primarily as an ingredient in a multi-use condiment.  But one rooted mustard seed quickly produces sufficient plants to overwhelm a field and, “when it has grown it is the greatest of shrubs and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and make nests in its branches.”

Did you know that our ‘cool’ climate is uniquely suited to growing this crop and that Canada produces an astonishing 90% of the world’s mustard seed, most of that in Saskatchewan?

And mustard, though grown for its crop value, is also considered a weed?  God’s Kingdom is like a weed?!

We might well wonder if God’s reign is thriving, in these uncertain days.  Churches aren’t all healthy, spiritually, in membership or finances, but God’s Kingdom is not limited to the Church.  Awareness of human need is perhaps on the rise, thanks, in part to media and social media, worldwide, but God’s Kingdom is not simply about awareness.  And when we reflect on having the faith of a mustard seed is it not with a yearning, potentially dampened with fear of the possibility, that God  with take our small understanding, our limited trust, our ‘weak and heavy laden’ selves, and nurture something spectacular? Do we pray, as seeds are sown, abundantly, praying to grow in faith? “For truly I tell you, if you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move; and nothing will be impossible for you.”Matthew 17:20 Or are we a bit nervous that the harvest will be more than we can ask or imagine?

Homemade Mustard

½ cup yellow mustard seeds plus 2 Tablespoons black mustard seeds, if available
3 Tablespoons maple syrup
1/3 cup Canadian rye whisky
2/3 cup apple cider vinegar
1 tsp salt

Heat syrup and rye (I guess you could use other spirits, but I haven’t) in a small pot. Bring to a boil and reduce to about 2 tablespoons. Remove from heat and add vinegar and salt. Put mustard seeds in a glass jar and pour vinegar mixture over the seeds. Refrigerate, covered, for at least a week. Keeps for months.  I add a scattering of red chili flakes, just because, and often puree some of mixture in the jar to make it creamier.   Makes about 1 cup.