Pentecost 3 B 2021
Grace to you and peace, from God our Father and from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.
What young school child has not done that universal project – you know the one, where you plant a seed in a little container, water it, put it on the classroom window still, and then wait for the plant to sprout and grow?
What a wonderful lesson in how things work, and in patience, and in realizing how amazing God has made His creation.
Well today in our gospel reading, Jesus used a seed to tell us what faith is like. And since there is always something to learn from Christ’s teaching, let us examine these two parables from Mark and reflect upon the Kingdom of God as Jesus describes it.
The first parable is about patience and trust. Just as school children learn that after one plants a seed and waters it, there is not much to do but wait; the farmer in the parable was also told that he must wait and trust that the seed will sprout on its own timeline.
I planted a vegetable garden at the end of March, and I can speak to the truth of this matter. After I planted the seeds, I daily checked the progress, and the garden did not grow as fast as I would have liked.
Here we are now in June, and I am finally starting to enjoy the fresh vegetables and produce of the garden. Growing a garden takes time. And growing a garden takes trust in knowing that the combination of seed and soil and sun and water will produce results.
Well, in the Kingdom of God, it is the same. God’s Word is cast onto the soil – and we are told that it will one day produce a harvest. How does it work? In the world today, the church does the casting - the planting of the Word - and we as the people of God are told to simply trust that one day there will be harvest.
We do not see the big picture. As Christians we are simply told to share what we have received, and then wait and watch for God’s garden of faith to grow. We are told to trust that through the Gospel, we as individuals will come to believe in Jesus Christ.
Scripture informs us that “Faith comes by hearing.” It is through the Gospel that the Spirit calls us to faith in Christ. God plants the seed in our heart and nurtures it to life. And it grows.
When we were baptized, the Word was spoken over each one of us with the water, and faith was given to each one of us. Today, when we hear the message of the law, we are pruned and cut down. But then by the Good News of Christ crucified for sinners, He awakens and enlivens our faith.
When we receive the Gospel in physical form – in bread and wine and juice that is His Body and Blood – Christ himself further nurtures the seed of faith growing within us.
And sometimes (quite often) we do not see the growth happening. Just as we do not see immediate growth when we plant a vegetable seed in the ground, we do not instantly see our faith grow.
That is why we Lutherans are not concerned so much as to pinpointing the moment of faith, the so called “the hour I first believed.” We leave that to God, and we simply trust and give thanks that God does plant the seed of faith in us.
And the hard part for us is that we cannot hurry the process along. God has His own timetable. There is no spiritual MiracleGro. And so, it is frustrating to see friends and family members who are not where we would like them to be in their faith.
We see our children straying from church. We see family members sleep in or participate in other activities Sunday morning. We witness a decline in church attendance Sunday mornings in our communities and wonder what is happening.
Or we look in the mirror and we see the same old sinner staring back at us that we have always been. Nothing seems to change. We still have the same old warts and blemishes that we have always had on us. We would like to be someone else. We would like to be more Christ-like. But sin is always present in our lives.
But remember this… “He who has begun a good work in you will bring it to completion on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ.” We do not see it, but we can believe that one day the harvest will come, and we will be with our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
The other seed parable in our text today, the one concerning the mustard seed, further explains this mysterious gift of faith. In this parable, we are told that the small things of God can have great and wonderful effects.
Just as the mustard seed, one of the tiniest of seeds, becomes a great shrub where even the birds of the air can nest – so does the Word of God produce a faith in us that has far-reaching effects.
And so, the message today for us is to be patient as we wait for the day of harvest, trusting that the seed of faith will grow in us and be a blessing to us (and others) in ways that we can never imagine. And to that I say “Thanks be to God. Amen.
Let us pray: Almighty God, give us such a vision of your purpose and such assurance of your love and power that we may ever hold fast to the hope which is in Jesus Christ our Lord, who live and reigns with you the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.