Reading: Mark 4:26-34
Mark’s Gospel relates two parables that use seeds as the metaphor for God’s Reign. In both readings the message is clear: God often uses the least, the smallest, the hidden, to accomplish God’s purposes. God’s work is often subversive and hidden, and God often works God’s transformation by using small things to slowly and gently impact our world. This week we will be exploring how to recognize and co-operate with the small, hidden work of God in our lives and our world.
Reflection: The two parables that Jesus tells in this reading are both simple and very comforting. In the one, the Reign of God is shown to be a reality that grows in secret in ways that we cannot control or even understand, but that produces fruit if we just nurture it and receive it. In the other, God’s Reign grows from small, but significant, things. The seed is the perfect metaphor for these truths. Farmers work with seeds – planting them, watering them, weeding the ground, nourishing the soil – but no farmer can make a seed grow. All they do is co-operate with the process of growth that is built into the seed. In the same way, we cannot make God’s Reign grow. We can only open our hearts and allow the seed to be sown into our hearts. We can only nurture, nourish, and water the seed, and then trust that God’s Reign will grow in our hearts and lives. Furthermore, the miracle of the seed is that a tiny thing can become a large and sheltering plant. God’s Reign is like this. Even the smallest actions, attitudes, words, and thoughts can be seeds that can grow into significant movements or realities in which God’s Reign is manifest.
The invitation that lies in these two stories is simple. Rather than strive in our own ability to make God’s Reign visible in our lives and our world, we need only open ourselves to God’s activity and presence. Then, often in ways that we can’t observe or control, God’s Reign begins to take hold of us, and we begin to change – with the result that we begin to reflect the character and compassion of Jesus, and bring life, healing, and welcome to others.
How can you open your heart to the seed of God’s Reign today? How can you trust the process of growth that God has created to bring the change you need in your life?
Practice for Today: It can be helpful, in seeking to allow God’s Reign to grow in us, to learn to be more mindful. This doesn’t mean we have to “watch” the growth process or try to control it. It just means that we look for the signs that God’s Reign is becoming visible in our lives. The practice of listening – to our hearts, to others and to the world around us – is a good way to grow in mindfulness. Try it today.
Breath-Prayer for Today: Open my awareness to the seeds of God’s Reign growing in my heart and in my world.
(John van de Laar)
You walk in your garden,
enjoying what you have planted,
It has come from your hand
and yet from its own mystery,
each blossom a gift of grace.
You stand for a while, still,
taking in the beauty,
simply relishing being there.
You also know what you have sown
that is not yet up,
still hidden, gorgeous.
That, too, you savour,
the promise, the mystery,
It is enough for you
to be here, to take it in.
This is its purpose, its perfection.
God, I too am still, sharing your delight
in the garden you have planted
(c) Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Every act of service, every effort of justice, every act of peace, healing, and reconciliation will not be overlooked by God, but will someday grow to bring forth results that we cannot imagine. God is redeeming the world through mustard seed churches and ordinary people who give themselves to the love and grace of God. Kyle Childress, Ekklesia Project.