READ: Matthew 13:31-35
31 He put another parable before them, saying, The kingdom of heaven is like a grain of mustard seed that a man took and sowed in his field.
32 It is the smallest of all seeds, but when it has grown it is larger than all the garden plants and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and make nests in its branches.
33 He told them another parable. The kingdom of heaven is like leaven that a woman took and hid in three measures of flour, till it was all leavened.
34 All these things Jesus said to the crowds in parables; indeed, he said nothing to them without a parable.
35 This was to fulfill what was spoken by the prophet:
I will open my mouth in parables;
I will utter what has been hidden since the foundation of the world.
I have always loved history. Probably this came as a result of the church my family was part of where I grew up celebrating their 300th anniversary in 1965 and 66. I was 10 at the time, and the celebration made a huge impact on me. As part of the year-long festivities the church was planning to produce a book (I still have a copy). About a year in advance they put out the word that if any member of the church could document that they were a direct descendant of one of the original "proprietors" of the Town of Greenwich, they could be in a picture that was to appear in the book.
The qualification had to do with this quote: "On February 5, 1664, the Seven Proprietors made a formal request to the General Assembly in Hartford to be allowed to separate from Stamford and to support its own minister and lay out its own lands. The Seven Proprietors were John MEAD, Jonathan RENALDS, John HOBBY, Joseph FERRIS, Joshua KNAPP, Angell HUSTED, and Jeffrey FERRIS." My father knew that his mother's birth name had been Ferris and that people from that family had been in Greenwich for a long time. We also had a Colegrove genealogy that included a couple of the other sir-names on the list. That meant we were probably good candidates for the picture. My mother decided to research the family, and was pretty quickly able to establish a direct link to Jeffrey Ferris. In time she would discover that when Dad's parents married he brought in 3 of the 7 and she brought in the other 4. As far as I know, that makes my sister, Tim, Beth, and me the only living people who can rightly claim that at one time their ancestors owned the entire Town of Greenwich.
I'm boring you with this tale because of what Jesus says about the mustard seed. The first people to live in Greenwich were not, it seems, very concerned with honoring Christ. From 1640 to 1664 the nearest church -- and therefore, the nearest town was in Stamford, and in those days you'd have to be very faithful indeed to want to travel five miles to go to worship. In pre-Revolutionary New England, what made a town a town was that it had an "orthodox ministry" (ie: Congregational). In most places the town hall WAS the Congregational meetinghouse. Remarkably, in some places this tradition of having town meeting in the church building persisted into the 20th century. So, quite literally, the town grew up and lived in the shade of the mighty tree that was the local church.
According to the latest census data, Greenwich, CT is one of the wealthiest towns in the USA, ranks 12th on the list of most desirable places to live, and is home to about 61,000 people who have John Mead, Jonathan Renalds, John Hobby, Joseph Ferris, Joshua Knapp, Angell Husted, and Jeffrey Ferris to thank for there being a Town of Greenwich because their first was a Church in Greenwich.
I wish I could say that The Church in Greenwich has been such a faithful witness to the gospel that today a large part of the population of the town are active, growing believers and that the sweet aroma of Christ rests on the whole place. Unfortunately, if you look up Greenwich on Wikipedia the article begins with this: "Greenwich is a town in Fairfield County, Connecticut, United States. As of the 2000 census, the town had a total population of 61,101. It is home to many hedge funds and other financial service companies that have left Manhattan."
Still, the mustard plant is one of the easiest to grow and can be planted almost
anywhere. It nearly always makes a huge yield. As I look out the window
of the only "going"church in Nottingham, NH, I wonder if this might not be a
good place to scatter some mustard seeds.
Pastoral Relief and Retreat
- Wethersfield, CT, United States
- I am Pastor at Poquonock Community Church, Congregational (CCCC) in Windsor, CT. My wife Jama and I live in Wetherfield, CT. We'd like to invite you to Terre Haute -- High Ground -- That's what Jama and I call the retreat space on our property. We offer free intentional get-away retreats. We'll feed you and house you and give you space to be with the Lord. All are welcome; no questions asked. This blog is my daily devotional journal. I write it because it is so easy to go for weeks without ever taking the time to be alone with God. Writing helps me develop a discipline I need.