Across the Pastor’s Desk: Promote acts of kindness, love

Published 9:08 am Friday, February 3, 2017

Across the Pastor’s Desk by Joshua Enderson

Joshua Enderson is the pastor at Hayward and Trondhjem Lutheran churches.

Jesus said, “What is the kingdom of God like? And what should I compare it? It is like a mustard seed that someone took and sowed in the garden; it grew and became a tree, and the birds of the air made nests in its branches.” — Luke 13:18-19

Pastor Joshua Enderson

Pastor Joshua Enderson

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I was recently re-watching the first film of the “The Hobbit” trilogy, which is the film version of JRR Tolkien’s famous book by the same title. There’s one quote in the movie that has always stood out to me, and took on a greater poignancy as I heard it this time. Gandalf is speaking to another character about why he has put his trust in a small, insignificant person to carry out a great task.

As he’s explaining why, he says this: “(Some people) believe it is only great power that can hold evil in check, but that is not what I have found. I found it is the small everyday deeds of ordinary folk that keep the darkness at bay. Small acts of kindness and love.”

It seems, for many of us, like we have very little control over the way things go today in our world. Actions on the political stage occur and we have little say in the outcome; we watch as the world spins out of control with one signature. Actions might be taken that we disagree with, but we feel like we are far too insignificant to have a say in what happens in the world.

This sentiment is partly based on the way that change is viewed in our world today. We feel that true change must be big and bold. It must be proclaimed or ordered from on high, and the only way that you can make true change is if you are one of the people at the top. Winners get to declare the way of the world, while the losers are left to feel powerless.

But, Jesus reminds us that this is not how God’s kingdom makes its way into the world.

It doesn’t come with the declarations of emperors or rulers, but in the small ways that seem insignificant. It’s like that mustard seed that’s impossible to find once planted in a field, but will grow into a great shrub once it’s sprouted. Or, as Jesus will say right after this, this kingdom is like yeast in bread dough. You may not see it once it’s mixed in, but you definitely see its growth and action. This is how God’s kingdom of love and grace comes to life in our world.

And that’s where we come into the picture. We may not have control over the actions of a few at the top, but, we do have control over the actions that we do each and every day. We have control over how we interact with our family, or the cashier at the grocery store or the Facebook post from a friend (and this includes the friends that we may disagree with). We can choose to give in and go along with the current way of the world and let cynicism, fear and anger drive our actions; or we can choose to let God’s love and grace guide us — those small actions that we do every day — and watch as they multiply and grow.

God calls on each and every one of us to make our world a little better — in our own way, in our own place. Yes, we can still call for those actions from on high to be in line with our values.

But, we can also let God work throughout two hands to bring about God’s kingdom of love on Earth, one small act of “kindness and love” at a time.