When I was a middle school kid going through confirmation class I thought I was funny and cute. (I still think I am!)
To get a rise out of my pastor, parents, and other adults in my church I refused to call the season of Lent by its proper name.
Instead I called it “lint”.
Most of the time the adults knew I knew better and so they’d roll their eyes or give an uncomfortable smile.
My family had one friend in the church who was like an uncle to me, and I knew anytime I referred to “Lent” as “lint” I could get a big chuckle out of him.
Not too long ago I found myself on an airplane flying back from New York City. While on the plane I needed something to do so I pulled out my Bible and read through the first eight chapters of Mark’s Gospel.
Of the four gospels this one has always been my favorite, but yet no matter how many times I read through it there’s always something that catches my eye.
This time I couldn’t help but obsess over “The Parable of the Mustard Seed”, as recorded in Mark 4:30-32:
(Jesus) said, “With what can we compare the kingdom of God, or what parable will we use for it? It is like a mustard seed, which when sown upon the ground, is the smallest of all the seeds on earth; yet when it is sown it grows up and becomes the greatest of all shrubs, and puts forth large braches, so that the birds of the air can make nests in its shade.” (NRSV)
We’re to find great potential in small things. When Jesus called his followers he did not pick people who society would have called winners. Instead of surrounding himself with the temple priests, politicians, wealthy business owners, and intellectuals, he chose to call fishermen, tax collectors, widows, and scoundrels to be his followers.
These people were losers, yet Jesus saw within all of them the potential to do great things and live sacred lives.
In the same way Jesus looked at a few loaves of bread and some fishes and where some saw scarcity he saw a feast for five thousand.
The night he was betrayed by one of his own Jesus refused to be angry, instead he saw an opportunity to come together with all his followers––even Judas––and have one last time of fun and fellowship with them.
Perhaps it’s fitting that my eighth grade self, saw the season of Lent and compared it to belly button lint.
God shows up in unexpected places and in things we might consider small, insignificant, and maybe a little dirty and gross. Perhaps if Jesus were here with us now he’d start a parable by saying, “The Kingdom of God is like belly button lint…”