“So Sow” Tuesday Meditation. 05-26-20. Alan Neale.
Trinity Church, Newport, RI
Mark 4:26 He also said, “This is what the kingdom of God is like. A man scatters seed on the ground. 27 Night and day, whether he sleeps or gets up, the seed sprouts and grows, though he does not know how. 28 All by itself the soil produces grain—first the stalk, then the head, then the full kernel in the head. 29 As soon as the grain is ripe, he puts the sickle to it, because the harvest has come.”
30 Again he said, “What shall we say the kingdom of God is like, or what parable shall we use to describe it? 31 It is like a mustard seed, which is the smallest of all seeds on earth. 32 Yet when planted, it grows and becomes the largest of all garden plants, with such big branches that the birds can perch in its shade.”
33 With many similar parables Jesus spoke the word to them, as much as they could understand. 34 He did not say anything to them without using a parable. But when he was alone with his own disciples, he explained everything.
In these verses Jesus speaks not of a kingdom defined by physical boundaries but rather a kingdom defined by its members seeking to do the will of God, seeking to serve God in the world. You and I are, in a sense, each the kingdom of God and our daily joy, at times our daily struggle, is to make this Kingdom known, to enlarge the Kingdom… to let it grow.
Verses 26-29 though they focus on the kingdom speak also to our role in being kingdom builders. We are to be responsible, we are to relax, we are to reap. Our responsibility is to scatter the seed at times forcefully at times gently, at times with purpose at times without purpose. The word for ground describes the arena in which we live, the arena where God chooses to operate, the arena which God uses to prepare us and others for eternity.
Often in AA one hears the phrase “the geographical cure”; this is a futile, desperate wish that by changing external circumstances a destructive addiction will be ended. Sadly it just does not work like that… for “wherever we go, there we are!”
Friends, we are being taught here that in whatever situation we find ourselves (even in this time of vile and cruel pandemic), there are opportunities to “sow the seed”.
We are also to relax because we place ourselves in the hand of a creative and loving God. We sympathize all too well with the disciples’ frenetic activity as their boat is assailed by waves and yet Jesus is asleep. Whether we sleep, whether we wake the Lord is at work for He/She neither slumbers nor sleeps (Psalm 121:4).
But we also are called to reap in the power of the Spirit and for the purpose of the Kingdom.
Verses 30-32 draw a parallel between the kingdom of God and the way in which the mustard seed begins so very tiny yet extends exponentially giving shade as well as harvest.
The mustard seed is the smallest of all seeds that a Palestinian farmer would sow in his field. Yet it reaches the height of ten feet!
Zechariah speaks warily of any who would despise the day of small things and we dare not, must not, should not be moved only by the grand, the extravagant, the mighty.
And so again Mark describes Jesus as one who task is always to teach, to educate, to inform and yet one who does this mindful of his hearers and mindful of the strangeness of his subject. We must not be discouraged when we are assuaged by doubts; these doubts are the springboard to understand further the mind and Kingdom of God.
So, in this chapter Mark has shown the inevitable nature of the Kingdom (despite wherever it is sown it does not surrender totally), the supernatural nature of the Kingdom (it requires not our work but rather our co-operation) and the growing nature of the Kingdom (this kingdom, our spiritual journeys require growth…).
Today, this week in telephone or personal conversations, in prayer or the writing of letters, in private reflection look for God’s kingdom to take root and bear fruit in you and those for whom you pray and whom you love. AMEN.