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You can’t do that! That’s impossible! A story for Mustard Seed School, year 40

September 12, 2019 | Abby Liu

Two of Mustard Seed School’s Co-Founders, Shanna Pargellis (left), and Joan Litman (right), holding the birthday book the school was given to celebrate the 40th year of Mustard Seed School. It’s a book called The Glorious Impossible by Madeleine L’Engle.

Note: This is a story that Shanna Pargellis wrote and read in Lower School worship during the first week of school. It’s the story of Mustard Seed School. We think that she should develop it into a children’s book!

Mustard Seed story for year 40: You can’t do that. That’s impossible!
by Shanna Pargellis, Co-Founder

“For truly I tell you, if you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move; and nothing will be impossible for you.”

(Matthew 17:20)

Once upon a time there was a town, it was small but filled with families.  In this town there were factories and old buildings, broken glass in the parks, and lots of litter on the streets and sidewalks.  No one really wanted to live in this kind of place. No one wanted to move to this town, and many tried to move away, if they could.

In this town there was a pastor who had a small church and a small building next to it that had once been a school, but that was years and years ago.  The building was like many buildings in town, empty, with walls of peeling paint, a home for mice and rats, broken down in so many ways, and not much use to anyone.

The pastor prayed and thought, I want to start a school in this building.  He did not know a lot about schools, but he had a building, and he knew what people had been saying about the schools in the town at that time, that the town did not have good schools, and it was said that students learned because the students were good at learning, in spite of the way the schools were teaching them.  The pastor told people that he wanted to start a school where children could learn not just to read and write and do math, but to learn about God too. When the people heard this, you know what they said?

You can’t do that.  That’s impossible!

The pastor found a small group of people who thought otherwise and they prayed together and started to work on fixing the building.  They raised money for a fire alarm system, in an arch above two doors, where they gathered to worship, an artist painted the words and a scene that was often use as a greeting and a song: This is the day the Lord has made: we will rejoice and be glad in it.   Carpet squares were hammered to the floor and a retired tiger bench from a shoe store was a cozy spot for younger students, But, for a school you also need teachers. Who would want to teach in an old building and how would you pay the teachers when you did not have any money?  Do you know what the people said?

You can’t do that.  That’s impossible!

There were no teachers in the town or near the town who wanted to teach in this school, so the small group prayed and started looking farther, way across their country, asking if there might be someone who would come to teach at this school.  And they found three teachers with big ideas, one person in the middle of the country and two on the farthest ends of the country. When these teachers told their families what they were going to do and that they were going to move, can you guess what their families said?

You can’t do that.  That’s impossible!

Yet, the teachers moved to this town the summer before school was to start and got ready to teach.  But to have a school you need students, and they had none. The group of people who prayed began again, they had a building, they had teachers, but where were the students?  They started praying for students, any and all kinds of students, older and younger, English speaking or not, brown or black or white, from families with little money or lots of money, all were welcome.  When the people in town heard about that, can you guess what they said?

You can’t do that.  That’s impossible!

But not everyone thought that, and some families wanted their children to come.  The children came and they were just like the ones the praying people had been hoping for.  They were older and younger, English speaking or not, brown or black or white, from families with little money or lots of money, and all were most welcome. There were 16 students on that first day of school, they heard about the tree by the riverside and they learned of the goodness of God.  Not long after that there were more children and their families wanting to come to the school.

Many, many years later, that school had a birthday party.  There were balloons, everyone sang the birthday song, a candle was lit, and a parent made a birthday cake.  The mayor came, the county freeholder came, a pastor came, not the same one as at the beginning of the story, but another one who prayed just like all the others had done so many years before.  The parents came and the children came. The teachers came. And God came.

Actually, God was always there, listening to the prayers and being with the pastors and the teachers and the families and the students and all those praying for the school.  They were all celebrating, because they had learned of the goodness of God. Something they always remembered every year on the first day of school. And on that special birthday the school got a birthday book, it was called The Glorious Impossible and they listened to these words of God, as they did every year on the first day of school, and knew them to be true.

Read by a student:

Matthew 17:20

For truly I tell you, if you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move; and nothing will be impossible for you.”

Repeat: nothing will be impossible for you

Can you say that: nothing will be impossible for you

What happens if you have a mustard seed of faith?

response: nothing will be impossible for you

What happens if you have just the tiniest bit of faith?

response: nothing will be impossible for you

Do you know the name of this school?

Prayer

God, you are the one who helps us move things so that nothing will stop us

Thank you for the small seed thoughts that can become big ideas

Help us to pray about them and listen for how you want us to grow them

Remind us that nothing is impossible when you are with us

Show us how to know and care for others

In the name of Jesus, who blessed us in telling about tiny mustard seeds

Amen.

 

Abby Liu

Director of Marketing and Communications

Ms. Liu loves to tell the Mustard Seed story. She’s the parent of a current MSS student and a recent alum.

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