Parables of Jesus: Secret Seed 7-3-16

Mark 4:26-29 Jesus said further, “The reign of God is like this:  a sower scatters seed on the ground. then goes to bed at night and gets up day after day.  Through it all the seed sprouts and grows without the sower knowing how it happened. The soil produces a crop by itself—first the blade, then the ear, and finally the ripe wheat in the ear. When the crop is ready, the sower wields the sickle, for the time is ripe for harvest.”

July 3, 2016

Parables of Jesus: Secret Seed

Grace is a remarkable thing isn’t it? Almost incomprehensible really. We who live with such incredible privilege often comment on how blessed we are. At the same time, we know that  our privilege, which sometimes is unfair is not the real blessing – it’s the abundant, extraordinary, everyday ordinary grace of God which is the real blessing. We can be blinded to the awesomeness of God’s grace which grows like a seed, no matter who we are or what we do.

When I read this wonderful parable, which directly precedes, in the Gospel of Mark, the parable of the mustard seed that we considered 3 weeks ago, at first I thought it was going to prove wrong what I was saying last time about how tricky and sneaky Jesus’ parables are. This one seems so straightforward and ordinary.

The realm of God is like a sower who scatters seed on the ground and goes to sleep. And the seed germinates and sprouts and grows without the sower knowing how it happens, without seeing it, without watching it. We sing that wonderful Thanksgiving hymn about the harvest that results – the grain and then the ear and the full grain shall appear.

The more I read it and thought about it, the more I realized it is a for-real Jesus parable that has that tricky wonderful ability to grow in you and challenge you to transformation and growth. Look – the realm of God is like a sleeping sower. We who are so busy and so sure that we’re about being the hands and feet of God’s work in the world, need to hear this. The realm of God is like a sower who plants seed and goes to sleep and the seed grows and the sower doesn’t have to wake up until the crop is ready to be harvested and shared.

The love of God, the grace of God, the original blessing of God is that awesome. That grace is everywhere – all around us, in every part of our lives. It’s there for all of us, no matter who we are, no matter who we’ve been, no matter what we’re doing. That love grows in secret, whether we are aware of it or not. Whether we acknowledge it or spread it, that blessing is always nurturing our community, our church, our country, our world, our lives. We love that part

the part we’re not so sure about – It’s available for everyone, not just for us, not just for the privileged, not just for those who are working for it, not just for those who want it. You can be asleep and the kin-dom of God is still growing within and around you. Such a simple story. The parables of Jesus will transform our lives.

Finally, the parables of Jesus cannot be explained. The best way to allow their full power is to tell the story, to allow the story to enrich our lives. So let me tell another story, written by a woman named Corinne Stavish, It’s meant to help us hear at least one aspect of Jesus’ parable:

 

The stranger appeared at the door, tired and hungry. The old woman invited him in for lunch and made him a sandwich with thick slices of bread.

“Thank you Ma’am,” said the stranger. ‘The bread was delicious.”

“Oh, don’t thank me,” said the woman. “I bought the bread from the grocer down the street. Thank him.”

So, the stranger found the grocer and said, “Thank you for the delicious bread I ate at Ma. Helen’s house today.”

“Oh, don’t thank me,” said the grocer. “I bought the bread from the baker across the street. She’s the best baker in town. It’s her you should thank.”

So the stranger walked to the bakeshop and went in to speak with the baker.

“Thank you for the delicious bread I ate at Ms Helen’s house today.” he said. “The grocer said that you make the best bread in town.”

“Oh, don’t thank me.” said the baker. “What makes my bread so delicious is the fine flour I use. The miller grinds the wheat carefully and thoroughly. He’s the one to thank.”

So the stranger walked further through the town until he came to the miller’s. “Thank you for the delicious bread I ate at Ms. Helen’s house today.” he said. “The baker said that it’s because of the way you grind the wheat that makes the bread so delicious.”

“Oh don’t thank me.” said the miller. “I do grind the wheat as well as I can, but the farmer I get the wheat from grows the best wheat around. She’s the one you should thank.”

So the stranger walked much further, until he came to the farm the miller directed him to. He saw the farmer and her family in the field, harvesting the wheat. “Thank you for the delicious bread I ate at Ms. Helen’s house today.” he said. “The miller told me that your wheat was the finest and that’s why the bread is so delicious.”

“Oh, thanks, but don’t thank me.” said the farmer.

“Then who?” asked the stranger.

“Help us finish harvesting this wheat; stay for supper and I will show you.” said the farmer.

So the stranger spent the afternoon with the farmer and her family, working in the fields. And that evening, he gathered with them around their dinner table. He joined the circle of hands as the farmer blessed the bread and said, “Praised be thou oh Lord our God, who brings forth the bounty of the earth, the bread of life.” (story by Corinne Stavish, found in The Parables of Jesus: Storyteller’s Companion to the Bible, volume 11)

 

Offering for box lunch and a book

Communion Hymn: 583     You Are the Seed