(Open with a parable of the TV show “Green Acres”)
Jesus said the Kingdom of God is like someone who spreads seeds on the ground, and then goes to bed and rises in the morning. He doesn’t worry about the seeds or how they will grow…In fact Jesus makes a point to say the gardener has no idea how it grows. He trust the seeds and the mystery contained in them. Today we have a pretty good understanding of how a seed works. You plant them, you water them, and wait for them to grow.
This then leads me to ask, “Do we trust the seed?” In other words, can we live with the mystery that is locked away inside their little shells? Do we really believe it will do what it is supposed to do? Now, I can’t say for sure if those first hearers of this parable understood biology or seed germination, but I suspect even the most basic farmer knew that before a plant can grow…a seed must die.
Like with every parable we must ask, "What is Jesus trying to reveal about himself in these two parables?" I'd summarize it something like this:
Bury a seed that has died
and trust that it will come
back to life.
Bury a seed that has died and trust that it will come back to life. Trust that it will not only come back to life...but that it will be greater and mightier than the little seeding from which it came. And such trust will yield a bountiful harvest.
Scientifically speaking, the study of actual seeds provides insight to our Christian faith. Take DNA for example. It reveals that inside every little kernel of corn, or the tiniest of mustard seeds, rest an entire legacy of history, dating back millions of years. And like Christ, the hope that each seed gives us today points towards a bountiful future sown into creation at the beginning of time. Inside each seed...all the instructions of life, death, and rebirth are mysteriously engrained, enabling it to produce another plant just like the one before it.
Again, the gardener doesn’t think about how the seed grows, nor does he seem to care. Likewise, he doesn’t fret over pulling the weeds or hoeing the soil. He is so free from any worry and anxiety that he is able to sleep peacefully. He knows and believes the harvest will come in due time.
Have you ever thought about how nice would that be to experience? To trust God so fully that you can walk through the gardens of life free from the baggage of the past. Imagine what it is like to nestled in God’s grace and love while sleeping so soundly and living peacefully until the great harvest season. This is what the Kingdom of God is like. It's about faithfully trusting in God and not relying on our broken selves. It's about giving ourselves over...completely and wholly...to the mystery of God’s grace and love. This might seem difficult, but it’s not impossible. Unless, of course, you are like me.
I’m more like Eddie Albert’s character in Green Acres. I have difficulty trusting the seed to grow on its own. I feel like I have to control it somehow. I fool myself into believing that the seed’s life depends on me. Every morning I go outside to inspect my tomatoes and hot peppers, to see how they are sprouting; wondering what I can do to help them along. Now, you might figure with a name like Macdonald I’d be a natural at farming. I am not so sure about that. I am not sure that farm living is the life for me. First of all, I like to sleep in. And second I’m too impatient. I have trouble simply watering and weeding and waiting.
Trust, like farming, can be hard, backbreaking work too. There is soil to prepare; rocks to be removed; and the constant vigil for pests and other hidden dangers. But Jesus tells us the seed just simply needs to be planted. It will grow on its own. We are not in control. God is. So why worry? It only takes our focus off what we are called to do. Through Christ, God’s grace and love is given freely to us. Even if we’ve sown seeds of doubt and pain...God says it's ours if we want it. God gives it to us, because God loves us.
Christ, the divine gardener, trusts the seed to grow accordingly to the promise sealed within it. There is nothing he, or we, can do to change this. In the same manner, there is nothing we can do to earn God’s grace and love. So why worry about those things that are out of our control? Instead, put all your seeds in one basket and trust that God knows what to do with it. As followers of this divine storyteller, we are given complete instructions on how to follow in Jesus’ footsteps.
To live faithfully to God’s righteousness, we must remember that we are walking around with a seed that God has planted inside each one of us. This seed is in God’s care, and through God’s grace and love it too will grow. In the meantime, we are called to spread the seed of God’s grace and love everywhere we go; until the day of the joyful harvest. When we trust in even the smallest of seeds, which were once considered dead, we too will rise again.
I remember an episode of Green Acres, Mr. Douglas stands in a straggly field of dying corn stalks. All his hard work, money, and worrying could do nothing to keep the crows from destroying his hopes and dreams. But then his wife finds a lone ear of corn left untouched and unharmed. She pulls it off the withered stalk and hands it to her brokenhearted husband. It was a tender and touching moment for a show that redefined comedy.
In one kind act of love, the novice farmer slowly begins to triumphantly grin from ear to ear (no pun intended). All his headaches and backaches, depression and sadness all mysteriously disappear. Hope and joy return to his heart.
From a tiny kernel of corn that was once dead, comes new life. Wrapped peacefully in the soft, silky husk, that one individual ear of corn finds safety nestled in the hands of the great gardener.
To us, such a measly harvest might seem like a waste of time and energy. But to God, whose grace and love is grows freely, every individual life is welcomed and received with such enthusiastic joy.