Monday, June 25, 2018

Seeds Part One

He also said, “The kingdom of God is as if someone would scatter seed on the ground, and would sleep and rise night and day, and the seed would sprout and grow, he does not know how.  The earth produces of itself, first the stalk, then the head, then the full grain in the head.  But when the grain is ripe, at once he goes in with his sickle, because the harvest has come.” Mark 4:26-29

There exists a seed right now that as a child I planted more times than I can count without realizing that in the soft, fuzzy-like seed contained numerous health benefits. 

Once this seed matures, which it can do practically anywhere, and you, like the person in the parable go out to harvest the plant, eat it, it can reduce high blood pressure, help with liver problems. 

It has been shown to relieve an upset stomach and improve digestion.  Other studies say the flower lowers bad cholesterol and raise good cholesterol. The greens contain significant fiber, protein, vitamins from A and zinc. 

The scientific name is Taraxacum officinale. 

But growing up, I knew this miraculous and marvelous plant by its more common name, dandelion.  And I learned from the website of the University of Wisconsin Weed Study department that while the name dandelion might seem to describe the bright yellow flower that resembles a lion’s mane, dandelion actually comes from the French name, dent de lion. 

And I find it fascinating, that there is a weed division of a University of Wisconsin?  If I'd only known that when I was looking at colleges!!

This is one of two twin parables Jesus tells us about seeds.  And on the surface, this might be one of the least controversial parables ever.  The words describes planting a seed the way you or I did in Sunday School where we would take a Dixie cup, put in a handful of dirt, sink a seed deep into the soil, set the container on the windowsill, occasionally, when we remembered, watering it, and watching as the mystery and marvel of life took shape sending a tiny fragile sprout to spring forth. 

Matt Skinner in his commentary on this first parable tells us that Mark is the only one to share this story, “Probably because it’s boring. Its plot has all the suspenseful drama of an ordinary elementary-school science textbook.”  Yet, if you dig a little deeper, notice that the one who plants the seed really does very little.  In fact, beside planting the seed, the gardener does nothing, nada, zip.  Sinks the seed into the ground and seems to say, “I guess that settles that.”  The person might be the worst farmer ever.  Nothing is said about the person watering or weeding or at least putting a scarecrow out in the field to keep the birds away. 

Yet, the seed grows!!

What does that tell us about God’s realm growing in our life?  In a culture that worships at the altar of self-definition, in a world where we love to recount to others what we moved from our to-do list to our to-done list.  In the blur of busyness, the first parable seems to suggest it isn’t all about us.  God’s realm moving in our midst may not be as dependent on us as we might think.  When dealing with a parable we always have to realize that it is like looking at mirror in a funhouse that distorts everything we think that we know. 

The kingdom of God that we pray for in the Lord’s Prayer might just grow regardless of our five-year strategic plan, regardless of how much we cling to, control, or white knuckle our lives.  For me, as a Type A person, that thought sends shivers down my spine.  Perhaps, this parable isn’t as boring as we thought.

Pause right now...consider seeds that are being planted right now in your life...and where you can trust in the slow work of the Spirit; that we can't always white-knuckle our own growth; and that God might be plotting something if we open ourselves to God's presence here and now.

And may there be more than a trace of God's grace in that for you this week. 

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