Rev. Shawn Fisher is a father, husband, friend, activist, musician and Senior Pastor at Bloomfield Congregational Church.
Scripture: Matthew 13:24-30, 36-43 (NRSV)
He put before them another parable: ‘The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed that someone took and sowed in his field; it is the smallest of all the seeds, but 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.’
He told them another parable: ‘The kingdom of heaven is like yeast that a woman took and mixed in with three measures of flour until all of it was leavened.’
‘Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant in search of fine pearls; on finding one pearl of great value, he went and sold all that he had and bought it.
‘Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a net that was thrown into the sea and caught fish of every kind; when it was full, they drew it ashore, sat down, and put the good into baskets but threw out the bad. So it will be at the end of the age. The angels will come out and separate the evil from the righteous and throw them into the furnace of fire, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
‘Have you understood all this?’ They answered, ‘Yes.’ And he said to them, ‘Therefore every scribe who has been trained for the kingdom of heaven is like the master of a household who brings out of his treasure what is new and what is old.’
I don’t know about you, but sometimes I wonder whether what I do makes enough of a difference. I wonder if all of the investment of time and self is worth it.
I think a big part of it has to do with lack of knowing. I don’t get to know the impact of most of what I do. I used to.
Before my call, I had a 20-year career in corporate America. My last job was as Chief Operating Officer for a division of a Fortune 10 company. They measured everything! I knew what was up and what was down – and by how much. I had weekly, monthly, quarterly and annual reports and reviews. For the most part, I knew what I had done as a leader.
Enter parish ministry. Most measures went away. I’m not talking about the “M&Ms” of ministry (members and money). I’m talking impact. Was anyone’s life changed for the better after a year of putting 20 hours a week into every service? What about our programs? Are the children better off? The parents? The seniors? The community? I could go on and on. I bet you could too with your own heart’s list.
In Matthew 13:31 and 32 Jesus says,
31 … “The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed that someone took and sowed in his field; 32 it is the smallest of all the seeds, but 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.”
This is one place faith has made a huge impact on my life. I realized I had to become a Kingdom-builder who may get to plant a seed but never see where the seed takes root. That’s not easy for me.
Then, verse 33 we hear,
33 … “The kingdom of heaven is like yeast that a woman took and mixed in with three measures of flour until all of it was leavened.”
Sure, I can mix in some yeast, but again, I may not have the blessing to see the growth. I don’t own that, not like I used to.
There’s a certain requirement in our roles, to be steadfast and bold in the midst of unknowing. In the midst of the intimacy of ministry there is also a call for detachment from knowing, all while we are expected to return to the intimacy of trusting that God will find where the seeds should be planted and how they will grow.
There’s a cost in that. There always is in discipleship that matters. But, I’ve come to find it’s worth it. Because, even if someone else planted the seeds, wherever I turn, I see the audacious miracles of mustard plants spreading and bread leavening and the Kingdom growing. I’m grateful for that. And, at least for me, it makes it all worth it.
God of abundant and audacious growth, thank you for the opportunity to be a part of so great a cause as the building of Your Kingdom. Help me to remember that I am a valuable partner in making Your dreams for this world become a reality. Help me to remember that I am enough. Help me to remember that if I focus on building the Kingdom in this time and in this place, that You will take the seeds that are planted to places I will never know and make them magnificent in ways I could never imagine. Thank you for allowing me to be a part of that. Amen
New Prayer Requests:
We ask churches and church leaders to join us in the following prayers either by sharing them during worship, printing them in bulletins, or sharing them in some other way. To make a prayer request, please contact Drew Page at firstname.lastname@example.org
Prayers of Intercession:
- For those grieving for the nearly 140,000 victims of the Covid-19 disease
- For the family and friends of Rev. Mr. Dudne Breeze, former pastor in MA and CT, who died on July 5
- For those suffering from long-term symptoms of the Covid-19 disease
Prayers of Joy and Thanksgiving:
- For the 23 years of Conference ministry by the Rev. Kent J. Siladi who will be leaving the Conference to serve as the UCC Director of Philanthropy at the national setting.
Please Pray for the Following SNEUCC Churches:
First Church of Christ in Marblehead, Inc., Marblehead, MA
First Church of Christ in Mansfield Congregational, Mansfield Center, CT
The Congregational Church of Mansfield, Mansfield, MA
The Second Church of Plymouth UCC, Cong., Manomet, MA
Center Congregational Church, Inc., Manchester, CT
First Parish Church, Congregational, Manchester, MA
Second Congregational Church, Manchester, CT
First Congregational Church of Madison, Madison, CT
North Madison Congregational Church, Madison, CT
Centre Congregational Church, UCC, Lynnfield, MA
This Week in History:
July 20, 1980 (40 years ago) The 1980 Summer Olympic Games begin without the United States. The U.S. boycotted the games hosted by the Soviet Union in response to Soviet-Afghan War. 65 other countries joined the boycott. Many countries participated in alternate games known as the Liberty Bell Classic held in Philadelphia. The Soviet Union would follow with a boycott of the 1984 games.
“Study the past if you would define the future.”
The Rev. Shawn Fisher is Senior Pastor at First Congregational Church of Bloomfield, CT.