The View From Your Pew

Date: December 4, 2011

Time: 8:05 am

Location: 7834 Eastern Avenue, Baltimore, Maryland, USA

Church: St. Peter Evangelical Lutheran Church

Caption: Praying together.

Photo © Ed Kay


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The View From Your Pew

Date: December 4, 2011

Time: 10:30 am

Location: 26 Concord Road, Sudbury, Massachusetts, USA

Event: Second week of Advent

Church: Memorial Congregational Church, United Church of Christ

Caption: The Advent Spiral, an MCC tradition, was included in worship for the first time. Choir member Rachel O’Brien took this picture from the choir loft. Even though we attempted to darken the sanctuary by covering the large stained glass window, the morning sun found its way into the sanctuary and illuminated the center of the spiral.

Photo © Rachel O’Brien, submitted by Tom O’Brien


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The Kingdom Is, Like, a Mustard Seed

There’s an old game which asks how one random thing is like another random thing. Just like The Mad Hatter’s riddle: “Why is a raven like a writing desk?” To find answers, you have to think about the nature of the two objects—how they smell, how they’re made, how they’re spelled—to find similarities. (“Because they both have quills?”)

Jesus is an artist when it comes to linking two ideas to see what can be found in the connection. In Matthew 13, he seems to be on a roll, coming up with one metaphor after another to describe the Kingdom of God. His images are a natural place to start when reflecting on the nature of the Kingdom so today I’m suggesting prayer stations based on them, with one station for each metaphor. I’ve provided worship experiments, reflection questions and links to artwork for each. At each station, you’ll need to add a sign or open bible with the scriptures for worshipers to read.

A Man Sowing Seed (13:24-30)

Provide a bowl filled with many kinds of seeds and invite worshipers to sort them into piles of same kinds of seeds.

Reflection questions: How would you feel if someone sowed weeds in your garden? What would you do in response? How does this help you understand Jesus’ metaphor? Now that you’ve sorted the seeds, how do you feel about mixing them again?

Enjoy this graphic novel approach to the parable.

A Mustard Seed (13:31-32)

Provide a bowl of tiny mustard seeds, glue, art supplies and images of large trees.

Reflection questions: Glue a seed to a card and draw a tree growing from it. What kind of tree do you imagine it might grow into? A wispy willow? A strong oak? A towering pine?

Here’s a nice artist’s interpretation  of the parable.

Yeast (13:33)

Display two loaves of bread, one baked with yeast and one without, to show the difference the yeast makes. Allow worshipers to hold, smell, taste them.

Reflection questions: How much larger is the bread with yeast compared to the bread without yeast? How else are they different? How does this help you understand Jesus’ metaphor?

Artist, James Janknegt, has created this fascinating work based on the parable.

Treasure Hidden in a Field (13:44)

Create a searching activity, either on a large scale in the dirt with a shovel or on a smaller scale in a large box. Ask worshipers to dig through the dirt or sand to find a small treasure.

Reflection questions: Have you ever found a treasure? How did you feel about it? How does this help you understand Jesus’ metaphor?

Find the treasure in the field in Janice Von Cronkhite’s version of this parable.

A Merchant Looking for Pearls (13:45)

Provide a large jar or bowl filled with small, wooden beads. Hide a pearl-colored bead among them for worshipers to find, while they enjoy this haunting depiction of the pearl.

Reflection questions: Have you ever saved up for something special and done a lot of research before finally finding it and buying it? How does this help you understand Jesus’ metaphor?

A Net Catching All Kinds of Fish (13:47-50)

Fill a tub with water and pour in a selection of leaves of various shapes and sizes. Provide several long-handled strainer/skimmer spoons and invite worshipers to “fish” for the leaves. Challenge them to try to catch only the yellow leaves or only the ones shaped like fish.

Reflection questions: How is sorting fish (or leaves) like the Kingdom of Heaven?

Join the treasure hunt for fish in this photo.


After looking at the kingdom metaphors separately, use the following reflection ideas to bring them together into one image:

Invite worshipers to think about the actions in these metaphors:

  • Ask: “List the actions you see in these parables (and the actions in which we engaged today)—activities like sorting, searching, etc. How are these actions a part of the Kingdom of God today?”

Invite worshipers to notice how the metaphors connect with each other:

  • Ask: “How is a mustard seed like yeast? How is treasure hidden in someone else’s field like looking to buy the finest pearl? How is the man sowing seed in his field like the man fishing with a net?”

Use art to bring the imagery together:

  • The artist, Dave McCoy, has woven several of the metaphors from Matthew 13 into this piece of art entitled “The Kingdom is.” Provide some of the items from the metaphors (seeds of various kinds, netting, dough, beads to resemble pearls) and invite worshipers to work them together into their own tiny piece of art.

Or explore the metaphors through this video…

Image © Will Humes

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The View From Your Pew

Date: July 16, 2011

Time: 4:00 pm

Location: Crane Lake, Minnesota

Event: A wedding

Church: Crane Lake Chapel

Caption: This is the setting for a wedding. People who love the wild north may book a wedding on pontoon boats, remote islands, and in this case on a beautiful rocky point overlooking Crane Lake with a view into Canada. Roger—who sent in the photo—is the United Methodist pastor newly appointed to two churches in Voyageurs National Park and the one who officiated the ceremony that followed.

Photo © Roger Parrish-Siggelkow


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The View From Your Pew

Date: October 16, 2011

Time: 10:10 am

Location: 41 West Highbanks Road, DeBary, FL, USA

Church: Community United Methodist Church

Event: Healing Service

Caption: At a recent healing service, worshipers wrote the name of a person, institution or situation in need of healing on a Band-aid. The Band-aids were brought forward and applied to a cross as part of the prayer time.

Photo © Lisa Degrenia


Send us the view from YOUR pew. We’re looking for images of your community at worship. Some more examples here. Submit yours here.

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