A word here, a cup of cold water there…

"The Kingdom of Heaven is like a grain of mustard seed, which indeed is smaller than all seeds.  But when it is grown, it is greater than the herbs, and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and lodge in its branches.  "The Kingdom of Heaven is like yeast, which a woman took, and hid in three measures of meal, until it was all leavened."  Matthew 13:31-33

Some years ago, I learned about FCS Urban Ministries in Atlanta — a real "leaven" ministry— a real "mustard seed" ministry. They go into dying urban neighborhoods — places where crime and poverty are rampant.  They graft Christian families into those neighborhoods— intact families— healthy families.  Those families function as leaven, helping to reinvigorate churches and community groups within the neighborhood.  They call it "reneighboring."  In neighborhood after neighborhood, they have transformed, not just the buildings and the streets, but also people's lives.

They are able to do that, because Christians are like leaven.  A little leaven leavens the whole loaf.  One person with Christ in his or her heart has power to change things.

This congregation is like that. As long as we have Christ in our hearts, we have the power to change things — to make a difference.

We make a difference just by being here.  We witness to Christ just by being here. As people drive by, our building testifies to our love for Christ.  When people see our cars in the parking lot, our cars witness to our love for Christ.  When people see us coming and going, assembling outside to speak with each other, our smiling faces witness to our love for Christ and for each other.

We make a difference by what we do here. We make a difference by our worship--by singing hymns— by our fellowship with one another. We make a difference by praying with and for one another.  We make a difference with our mission support.

We make a difference by what we do when we leave here. Whenever we leave the church we will take the church to a thousand different places. We are, after all, the church — the people of God.  When we leave here, we will go to our homes and to the homes of our friends.  We will go to workplaces and play places.  We will meet people on the streets and in the supermarkets and malls.

You go into places where the pastor is not welcome — or cannot go because of time constraints.  Wherever you go, you carry Christ in your heart.  You bear the image of Christ.  You make the love of Christ known.  You become a bit of leaven that makes a difference.

Fred Craddock, a great preacher and teacher of preachers, puts it this way. He says:  "A word here, a cup of cold water there, a firm stand on a matter of conscience — let them do their own work without forcing, without pushing.  Drop the stone in the water; the ripples will spread beyond sight."

In other words, just say a faithful word to someone — a kind word— an encouraging word.  Invite someone to come with you to church.  Then trust God to do something with your little mustard seed word. Stand back and let the Holy Spirit work. 

It might not seem that we are doing anything and, in a sense, we aren't.  It isn't ourselves, but the Christ who lives in us, who makes the difference.  It might not be apparent that Christ is making a difference. Yeast works slowly and quietly--but it works. Christ works! Christ makes a difference— and he does that through us.

So be of good cheer! Have faith! Say a faithful word, and then trust God to do something with it —something big—something blessed.  Never forget that we serve the Christ who has overcome the world.