A sermon preached at Grace Episcopal Church, San Antonio on the Third Sunday after Pentecost (Lectionary readings are here):
Before we jump into today’s lesson, as a reminder, let me set the stage as to what Jesus and his disciples are up to:
After Jesus left the house in which we found him in last week’s reading, you remember, when his mother and siblings tried to get him to be quiet so folks wouldn’t think he was crazy, Jesus has continued to speak to the ever growing crowds telling stories of ordinary items and ordinary every day occurrences to teach about God’s kingdom. He tells of a farmer who sows seeds with abandon and all of the different types of soil on which the seeds can land.
And after speaking to the crowds, Jesus is alone with the disciples and he helps them understand what he’s just said before giving them another story of seeds and planting that we read today.
Jesus says the Kingdom of God is like a someone who scatters some seeds and these seeds grow because that’s what God created seeds to do. The miracle of life happens when the seeds do what seeds are made to do. Seems simple enough.
But I wonder if the disciples were looking a him with odd looks on their faces, as many of us do when we hear these stories. Can you picture it: Jesus is speaking and he realizes that they aren’t quite getting the point and so he stops and, thinking out-loud, he asks them:
“What is a good way to describe the Kingdom? What will help you understand?”
And they just keep staring at him.
So he tries again: The kingdom is like a small seed that grows into a great big tree that then provides food and shelter for others in the Kingdom. Because that’s what seeds are created for – to be planted so they can grow and produce not just food and shelter for other creatures but more seeds so more plants can grow.
This story of ordinary things and tasks of their ordinary days teaches us about the extra-ordinary abundance of God’s Kingdom.
Jesus lived in a culture where farming and fishing were the two main sources of income for most folks and so many of his stories were about planting seeds and catching fish. And if we, in our day and time, don’t know much about these activities its easy for us to just say “well that’s a good ancient story but it doesn’t mean much to me so there’s nothing I can learn from it. And besides, we know that the mustard seed isn’t the smallest of seeds and that the mustard plant isn’t the biggest so the story is incorrect, right? And Jesus didn’t even talk about how this little seed makes a yummy condiment that makes most everything taste better. That’s what mustard seeds are really for.”
The point of parables isn’t whether or not Jesus tells a “correct” story, one that matches our worldview but to enable us to see our ordinary as extra-ordinary. Jesus’ parables are intended to change our worldview so that we see from a Kingdom point of view.
Jesus wants very much for us to ‘get it’, to understand that living in God’s Kingdom isn’t about some day, somewhere else but today, here and now, for our every day activities in our every day life.
So, if Jesus were standing here today, asking “What is a good way to describe the Kingdom? What will help you understand?” What illustration would you suggest he use?
How about this:
The Kingdom is like someone who was having a picnic with their family and neighbors and after eating her hotdog with lots and lots of mustard, eats a big slice of watermelon and spits the seeds on the ground.
Some time later someone else is picnicking in the same spot and notices the vines that have sprouted from the ground and finds joy in the anticipation that this little watermelon vine will provide for others and tells the story of this simple yet joyful experience with family and friends.
And finally, someone else walks the same path and finds a fully ripe watermelon, picks it and shares it with family and friends. And one of those friends spits seeds on the ground and some time later the seeds sprout … you get the idea.
No one does anything to make the vines grow; the seeds just do what God designed seeds to do: make plants and more seeds so that the plants and fruit and seeds can continue in abundance. Seeds grow, regardless of our intent, or lack thereof, when we scatter them.
Jesus doesn’t give us a neat and tidy checklist or step by step instruction manual for The Kingdom. Jesus asks questions and gives us stories to equip us to work out the meaning and the answers.
Jesus tells stories not to keep us in the dark or keep secrets from us but to enable us to work out what this Kingdom life looks like for each of us, individually and collectively in 2021 hill country Texas.
“With what can we compare the kingdom of God, or what parable will we use for it?”
What does the Kingdom of God look like at our places of employment?
In our homes?
What does it look like when we are at HEB or driving down 1604? Or on I-10 and someone just cut us off speeding through the construction zone?
What does it look like to live as a citizen of God’s Kingdom then? What seeds do we scatter?
In all that we are and do, we scatter seeds of one kind or another. And the seeds we scatter grow.
Jesus asks questions about what is the Kingdom of God like and tells stories about seeds and planting so that we learn to ask ourselves and each other: What kind of seeds are we scattering: seeds that grow love and kindness and compassion or seeds that grow division and anger and hate?
Jesus invites us all to follow him and learn how to sow seeds of goodness, seeds that build up God’s Kingdom, seeds that grow more and more love and compassion in this world, seeds that make us a part of the prayer ‘Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.”
2 thoughts on “Seeds”
Hello Mother Nancy, This is Patrick Street in Midland. I been following your Coffee thoughts ; they has been inspirational. Hope is well with you & Jim. I miss y’all.
Hi Patrick! I am grateful that you find this helpful. We are doing well. You remain in my prayers and I miss you, too.