3rd Sunday after Pentecost
June 14, 2015
Mark 4:26-34 You can click on this link to open the reading in Oremus Bible Browser.
FALLING IN LOVE WITH JESUS ALL OVER AGAIN.
“The Secret in the Seed”
When did you first realize that you knew God? That you knew Jesus? That you had a faith?
Was there ever a time when you didn’t know about Jesus? Take a minute to think back to your beginning of faith.
In this morning’s reading, Jesus tells stories that compare God’s Kingdom to things his listeners might know something about. As we sink into reading more about Jesus’ teaching and ministry this summer, I’m thinking that our theme should be “Falling In Love With Jesus All Over Again.” We’ll see his teaching tricks to help people unlearn some of the misconceptions about God that bad religion has given them. We’ll see his compassion for people on the margins – the unclean, the scorned, the disabled, and even for the greedy. And we’ll have a chance to think about our own connection to God through Jesus. Maybe we have some things to unlearn in order to learn something new about God or faith. Maybe we’ve missed something that will open our understanding of how much we are loved. Maybe we need a chance to re-calibrate our gratitude or take more of a chance in trusting God’s care for us.
This morning we have two parables – stories that could be true but aren’t really. They usually have a surprise ending. We don’t usually get the joke because we’re not part of the context of the community in which they are told. But let’s give it a shot, starting with these stories.
The secret’s in the seed, Jesus tells them. The Kingdom of God, what’s it really like? The secret’s in the seed. You plant it, you go to bed and wake up day after day and the seed just grows on its own. The earth produces “automatically” says the Greek; of itself. The stalk, the head, then the grain grow without intervention, as they are made to do. We can talk about germination and soil and water, but it’s a miracle every time. And then, he says, when it has grown to fullness, it’s ripe for harvest.
The same with the mustard seed; the tiniest seed you’ve ever imagined can sprout into something that takes over the world. Of course, Jesus is probably smiling when he talks about big branches and birds nesting in them, because their mustard is the same as our mustard – an invasive weed that runs rampant in your pasture or wheat field, creating havoc.
But that is what the Kingdom of God is like; a miraculous, mysterious process that grows from the tiniest sprouts into a field of wheat or a weed that wants to take over your pasture. Where does it come from? Either someone plants it hoping to see it yield a bountiful harvest or the wind blows it onto fertile ground. Either way, it does what it is destined to do, grow, bloom, spread, yield.
So I ask you about your life in the Kingdom; where did it start? Was it carefully planted by loving parents who raised you to know and love God through Jesus? Was it blown like seed onto fertile ground by the crises in your life or your longing to know more about the Creator of a world that impressed and enchanted you?
When we baptize infants in our tradition, we do so with the understanding that faith is a gift. It isn’t something we can earn or get credit for. Like the miracle of life hidden in the seed, God plants it in each heart. St Augustine always imagined that each of us is born with an empty space in us that only God can fill and that our hearts are restless until we meet the God who is waiting to finally make us whole. God is always at work summoning, inviting, planting the seeds of faith, until finally we answer. When we meet Jesus, we get the whole truth about a God who wants to know us, to love us; a God who created each of us as a gift to the world, waiting to grow into our own fullness watered with God’s love. When we meet Jesus we see that God was willing to stand up to all the pain and suffering that human life can bear to break the bonds of evil in the world in which we live. When we meet Jesus we learn that we are now the bearers of the precious seed of God’s love to scatter with abandon in every relationship, every task, every concern for equity and justice for everyone, every act of compassion. When we hear Jesus’ stories about the miracle of how God’s Kingdom grows where it’s planted as well as where it blows, we fall in love with Jesus all over again, and say thank you for your love for us and for making so plain that even a child can understand. Amen.
Now may the peace of God which passes all understanding, keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus our Lord. Amen.