I share with you from a book “Sermons on the Gospel Readings by David Ball the passage entitled “On Trusting the Work of God” (Mark 4:26-34)
Jesus spoke to the people in parables about the reign of God. He compared it to the plant life that was all around them, to wheat fields and mustard plants. The growth of the reign of God in the world is like a plant that may start out small but can grow and become a magnificent place for shelter. It happens like the farmer who plants the seed but the growth comes when he is not looking. He participates in it but he doesn’t know how it actually happens. The growth comes and he participates in and enjoys the result, but he does not control it, nor can he make it happen on his own. Such is the reign of God.
We are the ones who scatter the seed of God’s reign in creation. There are many ways in which we sow the seeds of the good news of Jesus Christ. Sometimes we do that in the social work that we are involved, with in feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, housing the homeless, healing the sick, welcoming the stranger and visiting the prisoner. These are acts of sowing seeds of God’s reign when we are able to offer care and love to those who have experienced these far too little in their lives. It is difficult to believe in a God who loves us and cares for us when our life experience is all rejection and doing without. When we are constantly treated as though we are worth nothing, it is hard to believe that God calls us beloved children.
We plant the seed of God’s reign in our welcoming others into our community of faith and making them feel that this is a place where they belong. We open up our lives and our hearts to others so that their hearts and lives may be open to the presence of God. We take time from talking with our friends to greet a stranger and offer them a word of kindness. Our welcome includes giving the stranger enough space to feel comfortable. This means more than sliding over in the pew. It means allowing them time to settle in and get to know us before we begin asking them a million questions or pressuring them to join up. If our welcome is to be the sowing of the gospel seed it must be done so that the stranger feels our respect for them.
We continue to sow God’s reign in our caring for one another. While this is not limied to our own members, even the caring we do within the congegation is part of sharing the gospel as we help create a community where people feel cared for and loved. There is something attractive and unfortunately, unusual about a group where people genuinely care about one another. We must guard against the danger that we will become a closed club that only cares about its members, but we must not give up the caring atmosphere of a group of people who look out for one another.
As we sow the seeds of God we also help to ensure their growth by covering them with a bountiful supply of prayer. We remember those who will receive the food, the welcome, the sharing of the good news of Jesus in our prayer time. We hold up those who share with us the work of planting the seeds. W pray for the reign of God to grow and produce magnificently, rather than to pray that our program will be successful. We offer the seeds up to the only one who can bing about the harvest. We trust in God to accomplish the good work that God began as the first dawn shone upon the earth.
The reign of God will come in its fullness. We have already experienced it in our midst. We have met the Lord of the harvest and have come to know the eternal faithfulness of the risen Christ. God has and continues to bring all creation to its fullness in Christ. We do not know when it will all come about but we know that it shall happen. So let us be faithful in trusting the God of the harvest to bring it forth.