The Parable of the Growing Seed
26 He also said, “The kingdom of God is as if someone would scatter seed on the ground, 27 and would sleep and rise night and day, and the seed would sprout and grow, he does not know how. 28 The earth produces of itself, first the stalk, then the head, then the full grain in the head. 29 But when the grain is ripe, at once he goes in with his sickle, because the harvest has come.”
The Parable of the Mustard Seed
30 He also said, “With what can we compare the kingdom of God, or what parable will we use for it? 31 It is like a mustard seed, which, when sown upon the ground, is the smallest of all the seeds on earth; 32 yet when it is sown it grows up and becomes the greatest of all shrubs, and puts forth large branches, so that the birds of the air can make nests in its shade.”
The Use of Parables
33 With many such parables he spoke the word to them, as they were able to hear it; 34 he did not speak to them except in parables, but he explained everything in private to his disciples.
It’s been said around here at Fleming Road UCC, and at other places where I’ve been in ministry, that I have a lot of ideas. Some are even good! It is true, I have lots of thoughts and ideas. I also come up with lots of thoughts and ideas in conversations with folks.
It’s also true that many of those ideas that we come up with sometimes are good, sometimes not so good. But, I believe that God’s Spirit acts within and outside of us, sparking us to have dreams and visions…to form processes for cultivating ideas even as we take some risks. Ideas often start out small, need some time to grow and mature. When the time is right, it’s good to plant those ideas and see what happens.
That’s one of the reasons why I love the church. We have processes and procedures, we have community, we have faith, we have all of the ingredients for imagination and to make things happen for the good of our communities.
But, church, we need to be asking ourselves questions: What are we passionate about, what makes us get up in the morning and face a day, what gives us hope? I know I have a passion for running, I have a deeper passion for seeing relationships happen and for energy being driven from community for growth and change.
The parable of the sower has much to say to us. Jesus spoke in parables oftentimes. Parables are words for the audience that do not carry their meaning on the surface. They are meant to be shared, chewed on, thought upon, and then their meaning grows within us.
Jesus had been encouraging his disciples with their being a part of his family, a part of God’s kingdom. As we’ve said before, Kingdom of God talk is about God’s Presence in our lives and in the world. God’s working out God’s purposes in all things, and for good.
Jesus was also sharing that the Kingdom of God is participatory. It’s not idly watching or consuming something. So often, we in the church have followed along with the idea that we need to create programs or services that we can consume or others can. That’s not the idea that was planted in the church by God. We have created a consumer based church that may give us a brief respite from the craziness of life from time to time, and maybe that’s good for a season, but God wants to plant within us a vision for church that is life-giving, energizing, and involves us in relationship with each other and with the world around us…and with a God who is very much present with us. For example: I love giving sermons, I love music…I like worship services. There is a place for them, but if all we do is come and consume on Sunday morning, or produce a product, then we will all eventually come to a point of burn-out or hollowness. We then may have that famous saying creep up: “church (or pastor, or sermon, or youth group, or choir, or bible study, or whatever) is not meeting my needs”. Well, the church was not set up to meet needs, but a place for relationships to flourish, and that requires full participation. All of us, together.
I believe that Jesus is saying to his listeners, and to us now, that he wants us to grow into the people we were called to be, that we have been given opportunities to understand who we are and how we relate to one another. Opportunities such as meeting together for worship, forums, podcasts, small group bible studies. God has given us other opportunities like Tikkun Farm, Valley Interfaith, Finneytown Schools, Oasis/ECI, the archery program and other things, to not only serve, but to meet people and develop true friendships. God has also placed this church in a physical location, surrounded by people who I think would love to get to know amazing folks like you! These opportunities help us to grow in many ways, but the real work is in between the events, in between seeds being planted and coming to bear fruit. The work is in cultivating an understanding of the ideas, imagination, and new creation being formed and reformed within us and in the quality of our relationships with each other and with God.
Seeds are being planted within us and all around us, seeds that will bear fruit towards seeing the Kingdom emerge within us, God’s Presence within us, and around us. Some of those seeds are being consumed, aren’t being given enough water, don’t have deep roots, but some are falling on good soil. Can we hear what Jesus is whispering in our ears? Can we see what God intends to do?
Friends, I believe that God has given us good soil here at Fleming Road UCC! I believe that this soil does require tending, plowing, and cultivating. But, I think that the seeds God is planting will grow.
I’m also grateful for the conversations we’ve had this past month around here and in the community that affirm that we have a lot of gardening to do, within us and in this church, but we are committed to seeing what God wants to grow through all of the many seasons that we will be walking and working together in.
Then there’s the mustard seed. The Kingdom of God is being planted within us, it may be the smallest seeds, yet it grows into becoming a large tree, so much so that the birds rest in them. We may not be a large church, but we can be a seed planted in this community for much community goodness. The smallest of seeds make the biggest difference. Let’s love well this garden!