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Sing Play SummerMessage for Pentecost 4 on Mark 4:26-34 given on June 16, 2024-Father's Day at St. Luke's Lutheran Church, Richardson, Texas

Last Sunday I got to go mini golfing with the Youth! They know I love mini-golfing and if I were going on any outing and it were up to me, I would always pick mini-golfing. Not that there’s anything wrong with bowling, laser tag or Escape rooms, except I have never been in an Escape room; it’s just that mini golfing is better than all of those.

If you were to ask me why I love mini golfing, I would say it’s interactive, fun and unpredictable; you’re often outside and on the move. But then I remembered this experience from my childhood, which surprisingly, I never even told my husband until yesterday.

I think it was a Saturday, and I was about 7 years old. I was on the floor of the family room playing alone with Barbies or blocks or something. My older sister and brother were off doing older sister and brother things, and Julie, my younger sister, was probably taking a nap.

My dad came up to said, “do you want to go mini golfing?” And I asked if I could bring my friend, Jessica, who lived down the street. My dad said, “nope, it’s just you and me.”

I said, ok, so off we went to play mini golf, just me and my dad. We lived in southern California, and we went to a fancy outdoor mini golf place where there were castle doors that opened and closed, windmills that turned, and bridges over running water, so each new hole was an adventure in itself, including surprise holes that dropped your ball to another level where the real hole was.

I got to do that whole fancy golf course with just my dad and me and no one else. With 4 kids, days like that didn’t happen often.

I felt SO important, SO special; I knew I mattered. I felt SO incredibly LOVED.

Why do I pick mini golf over bowling and laser tag? Because when I play, I always feel loved. I am reminded of my father’s love, where I came from, my whole family, that I matter, that I am important.

I do not usually consciously call this memory to mind, just going mini golfing gives me joy, because my whole psyche and body remembers and feels LOVED.

I think this experience of being deeply LOVED is what we all are seeking in worship, in our faith and in our spiritual life —to know in our whole being, in our psyche and body and memory, that we matter to God, that we are special, and most importantly, that we are so incredibly LOVED by our heavenly Father and Creator.

• That God seeks us out individually and desires to spend time with just us.
• That God will show us the wonders of this world and our part in it—
• That yes there are doors that will open and close, there are bridges to cross and, that yes, we are going to fall through unexpected passageways, but that there’s always a new platform and place us for to be on the other side--
• That God will go through the whole course with us and never leave our side, and that some plays will be a terrific hole-in-one, and others will be 6 over par, but that through the whole thing, you are never alone,
• That God shows you that you are fiercely loved and chosen

Because this is how God feels toward you. This is why God sent Jesus who embraces you as you are, and forgives everything you fear is unforgiveable.
And we pray today that in this worship service, God will give you peace and fill you with Jesus’ love—
through the music, through prayer, in Communion, in a conversation with someone, in the presence of those around you, in singing—
in one or in all of these ways, we ask for God’s loving hand to bring peace and love to your soul today wherever you are in the course of life.

And maybe you, too, can identify a moment, a memory in the past, when you also felt deeply loved—like you mattered, like you were important.

It may be with your dad or another father figure—an uncle or big brother, a mentor or teacher. You may have a loving memory with a grandparent or another relative, or even a best friend. It doesn’t have to be a big or even a dramatic moment—but just a time when you can recall feeling loved.

These moments are all God-moments in our life—when Jesus Christ shows up to love us through other people. These are mustard-seed moments—small moments—times someone else might not even have noticed or remembered.

In fact, I don’t expect that my dad even remembers that Saturday afternoon mini-golfing with me 5-1/2 decades ago—he was just being a great dad. But it was a mustard seed moment for me—one afternoon as a child that has grown into an enormous tree of love that still feeds my soul today and enables me to love others.

So, what are those small, mustard seed moments for you?

And what happens to our daily life when we remember, even start writing down, and rehearsing and reminding ourselves of those loving, affirming, mustard-seed moments to confirm how much we are loved—how often God has shown up to remind us we matter, instead of recounting the hurts people have done to us?

I often listen to a recorded meditation that ends with what’s called “happy, happy, joy, joy” and the facilitator asks us to think of times when we felt loved and full of joy, and to fill our mind and body with these memories and experiences, so we can go on with our day feeling “happy, happy, joy, joy!”

Every one of your happy, happy, joy, joy memories is God in Jesus Christ showing up in a mustard seed-moment to let you know you are loved, chosen, special, important, that you matter!

Let it grow to an outrageously big tree so others can rest and grow in your expansive love!

• Then YOU can spread mustard seeds of love,
• and YOU can spread more moments where people know they matter,
• and YOU can participate in making sure others experience our heavenly Father showing up on the mini-golf course of life, and reassuring them that they, too, are never alone.

We do not know which seeds will grow, how they will grow, what they will mean and what impact they will have. The kingdom of God is as if someone would scatter seed on the ground,27and would sleep and rise night and day, and the seed would sprout and grow, he does not know how.

God is in charge of the growth, and God can do mighty things with small seeds of love. Our calling is to scatter mustard seeds of love, seeds of time and kindness, seeds of affirmation and prayer, seeds of happy, happy, joy, joy!

This week we give out our final Summer Faith, Summer Fun tool to help you have more “mustard seed moments.” It’s called Sing! Play! Summer!

Anyone can do the activities and meditations in this booklet with families, or on your own, on the road, or at the dinner table. I certainly encourage family fun together. I also encourage 1:1 dates (especially mini-golf!) with spouses, partners, kids, grandkids, nieces, nephews, teens, siblings, and whomever God has put in your life to mentor and to love. You never know which mustard seed moments will grow into an extravagant tree of love!

The wonderful thing about this resource is that it comes with fun songs. Go to our Summer Faith, Summer Fun page where you can play all of the songs which are great for road trips, bath time or BBQ’s. (Contact us stlukeslutheranchurch.org to receive a Sing! Play! Summer! booklet in the mail!)

As we treasure our own memories that reveal God’s loving presence with us, Jesus blesses us to share mustard-seed love with others, so all might know that they are loved, as we trust our heavenly Father is always with every one of us.

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