Gardens are amazing things. I have the real privilege to be writing this, sat outside on a warm sunny day in my own garden. As we move deeper into the summer months where things are getting warmer, the gardens are in full bloom, BBQ’s, paddling pools and World Cup Parties are in full swing – we can forget that hidden from our very eyes, the Kingdom of God is growing.
The Sunday gospel reading from a few weeks ago was the Parable of the Mustard seed and the parable of growing seeds (Mark 4:26-34). In these two parables, Jesus gives us great illustrations of how God’s Kingdom; the Church grows.
“It is like a mustard seed, which is the smallest of all seeds on earth. 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.” (Mk 4:31-32)
A Mustard seed is tiny. It looks weak, vulnerable and useless on the outside. If you eat it, can’t sustain you and it can be easily lost. Yet Jesus reminds us that the power of that tiny seed is on the inside. Even though it looks tiny, it produces the largest tree. How can something so tiny produce something so large? That is how the Kingdom grows. It begins very small, so small that we feel that nothing is happening. When we look at our churches we might look and feel like Mustard seeds. With small congregations we might feel weak, vulnerable, like nothing is happening, but hidden from our eyes, in the very heart of all that we do, God is at work, in every person we engage with. God doesn’t look at us on the outside, but from the inside. He looks at and works from our hearts therefore, we should be patiently waiting for these small seeds to grow. They can only grow, like any seed, if the soil is ready and prepared. The soil is solid Bible teaching and focused prayer.
The other parable tells us what we can do to encourage the growth of God’s Kingdom:
“A man scatters seed on the ground. Night and day, whether he sleeps or gets up, the seed sprouts and grows, though he does not know how.” (Mk 4:26-27)
What is important to the farmer is not how the seed produces the crop for him to harvest but that he actually scatters the seed. The Farmer trusts the seed, he has faith and patience in God and in that seed and believes that it will bear fruit. God in his great sovereignty nurtures, encourages and maintains the seeds we scatter. This seed is telling people about Jesus, from loving our neighbours to inviting them to events but unless we are scattering the seed then we will not see growth.
In the heat of the summer, continue to scatter seeds and be patient for their growth. Even through the most rough and tough times we are to keep hold of the hope and joy that deep down, God is still at work in all that we do, even if we feel like mustards seeds. There is a great future! We are to look forward in joy that all these seeds that have been scattered is forming and becoming a great tree.