This was the theme for our grand day out to Bishopthorpe Palace! Archbishop Stephen had kindly invited the Mustard Seed team to spend the day sharing and learning together. We gathered with people from Stepping Up groups in Middlesbrough, Redcar, Scarborough, Bridlington and Hull to share stories, pray together and encourage one another in Living Christ’s story in our local churches and communities.

The day was full of stories! We began with a reflection on the parable of the Mustard Seed, where Jesus turns our thinking upside down. He encourages us not to look to the large, great and grand things around us to understand the Kingdom of God, but to look for the smallest of things, that may go unnoticed and overlooked, but are full of potential to grow.

Each Stepping Up group made a short presentation, sharing their Stepping Up journey and something about life and mission in their parish. We listened carefully to each story, noticing key words and phrases that began to emerge, as we paid attention to what is growing in each person and place. We celebrated the strong sense of community and support that each Stepping Up group provides, a safe place to feel at home, grow and develop, rather like the nests in the parable.

We were reminded that we each have a name, that God knows, and that he calls us all by name. We have discovered that we are good enough, and each of us is a small and vital piece of God’s jigsaw. We are discovering the joy, laughter and fun of growing together, doing ‘real life’, and when we say ‘yes’ then ‘by gum, Jesus is holding our hand!’

Archbishop Stephen inspired us with the vision of Living Christ’s story, which is both telling the story of Jesus and his story in our lives. Our Archbishop is a wonderful storyteller and he shared the story of a little girl who was late because she helped the lady with the broken vase shattered into one thousand pieces. The little girl didn’t stop to help fix the vase; she stopped to help the lady cry. Often the brokenness people on Stepping Up encounter in their family, friends and community cannot easily be fixed, and so the image of simply being with someone and helping them to cry resonated with the lived experience in the room.

The beauty of Bishopthorpe was such a treat, praying in the beautiful chapel, followed by a delicious lunch and a walk in the gardens were gifts to restore us in body and spirit. Bishop Alison led us in a reflection on the day, what gifts would we take way from the day? Some said it had been a feast, others like opening a box full of treasure. We had listened to God and to each other, and our hearts were full, discovering the many blessings of a life with God.