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We Reap What We Sow

Lessons from cress

by Tim and Vicky Scott (revised, originally published in 2010)

Suitable for Whole School (Sec)


To consider how we can make a difference in the world by sowing words and actions of love and truth.

Preparation and materials

  • You will need a packet of full-grown mustard cress, a plastic or tin tray, some kitchen roll, a bottle of water and some cress seeds.

    Information about cress and instructions on how to grow it are available at:

    Optional: you may wish to print out the instructions for growing cress so that they can be handed out at the end of the assembly to interested students.

  • You will also need the Bible passage found in Matthew 13.31–32.


  1. Ask the students, ‘Who likes cress in their sandwiches?’

    Explain that there are many different types of cress. One type is watercress, which is also known as land cress or American cress, and another type is thale cress. Both of these types of cress need soil to grow, but another common type of cress is mustard cress, which doesn’t need soil to grow.

  2. Show the packet of full-grown mustard cress.

    Explain that mustard cress is made up of white mustard sprouts and cress sprouts. It has a spicy, peppery taste and is used in many recipes, including egg sandwiches and soup, and as a garnish.

  3. Ask the students whether any of them like gardening and whether any of them have ever grown cress or sunflowers. Explain that mustard cress, like the sunflower, is easy to grow. It does not need a garden or soil. It can be grown at any time of the year, but grows best in sunlight.

    Show the tray, kitchen roll, water and cress seeds.

    Explain that to grow cress, all you need is a suitable shallow container, a few sheets of kitchen roll, a sunny windowsill and plenty of water. And, of course, a packet of cress seeds!

    Read out and demonstrate the first three steps of the instructions and then summarize the rest.

  4. Read out the parable of the mustard seed that Jesus told (Matthew 13.31–32): ‘The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed that someone took and sowed in his field; it is the smallest of all the seeds, but when it has grown, it is the greatest of shrubs and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and make nests in its branches.’

  5. Ask the students, ‘Have you ever felt as if you could never make a difference on your own, because you feel that youre insignificant?

    Pause to allow time for thought.

    If so, this short parable of the mustard seed is just for you, because it reminds us that the mustard seed, though small and insignificant, has the potential to grow and become useful. This is what happens when we care about each other and enjoy life to the full.

  6. Point out that we are here in this school now, and live in this area now, in the year 2019, and we, too, can make a difference in the lives of others, a difference that could be significant.

Time for reflection

As we sow seeds of love in the things that we say and do, to those who appear to be deserving or undeserving, God working through us will produce a harvest of good in the world around us.

Suggest that the potential is all there – we just need to have patience and wait for the harvest. Watch out for signs of it by listening to what people say today and this week: maybe we will be praised for something or asked for our advice about something.

It’s important to keep living honestly, faithfully and cheerfully as we wait for the signs of a harvest of good through our lives. Christians believe that by working through us, God can make a difference to the world in which we live.

You could suggest that the students grow some cress. As they leave the assembly, hand out instructions to any interested students.

Let’s consider the possibilities that we have ahead of us in the coming year. Let’s consider what possibilities lie ahead of us this week, or even today.

What can we do to bring good into someone else’s life this week?

Pause to allow time for thought.

Think about the opportunities that you have to spread love and kindness here today. How will you do that?

Pause to allow time for thought.

Dear Lord,
Thank you that in your eyes, I am not insignificant, but extremely precious.
Please help me to be faithful to your call
By sowing seeds of faith, hope and love today
That there might be a harvest for good in this world.


Optional: you may wish to play John Rutter’s hymn, ‘Look at the world’. A version is available at: (4.37 minutes long)

Publication date: September 2019   (Vol.21 No.9)    Published by SPCK, London, UK.
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