My grandmother is going to be worshiping with us this Sunday. Mrs. Opal Morgan, 96 years old, is still gardening. My mom says that growing up my granny always planted a vegetable garden and a row of zinnias, like those above. Mom says that that row was her beauty. But what is interesting is that my granny never watered her garden. It either “made” or “didn’t make” based on the rains which came.
This week we are talking about planting as a spiritual practice and studying one of my favorite little parables, the parable of the growing seed. It is also called “The Parable of the Seed Growing by Itself.” With this title it makes me think of a children’s book. This is the only parable found in Mark which does not have a parallel in the other Gospels. Perhaps that is why it tends to get less airtime in church than its more famous cousins, like the parable of the mustard seed.
In this passage the Kingdom of God is likened to someone scattering seed on the ground and waiting to see what happens. This person sleeps and wakes and time passes and the “earth produces of itself”, we are told, first the stalk and then the head and then the mature grain. This someone reminds me of my granny.
She was busy sleeping and rising and taking care of my mom and the chickens and sewing and going to the well for drinking water and bathing water. She didn’t have time for an extra trip to water her garden. She was dependent on the rain.
My mom says most years the garden made it and they had okra, black eyed peas, and onions. As well as a row of beauty on which to rest weary eyes.
Planting it seems to me is an act of hope. The seed in the moist and rich- smelling soil is the meeting space between human work (preparing the soil, preserving or buying seed, timing the planting after the final frost) and the mystery of germination and new life. The seed lives in a liminal zone between what is and what can be. And this fertile space is where God does her work.
Now there is a lot to this little parable. I don’t want to domesticate it but instead I invite you all to read it and reflect on its multiple meanings in our lives together. What might it say about the Reign of God and the way in which it grows in our midst?
Join us tonight as we practice some Lectio Divina and sit with this passage over Mediterranean fare at Wes and Teri’s 6:30pm (call 214. 233-4605 for directions)– and Sunday morning 11am.
Grace and Peace to you all this day,
Scott’s Commissioning Service, written by Teri. Too beautiful not to share. courtney
Cantor: A parable for our journey and our journey with Scott. There once was a sower who went out scattering seeds.
Scott: I have never been in the belly of a large fish, but I know what it feels like to be in a job where I just don’t belong.
Congregation: Scott, you are never outside the presence of God. And you always belong with God.
Cantor: And some of these seeds fall on asphalt roads, and some of these seeds fall in the little cracks along concrete paths, and some of these seeds fall by the banks of duck ponds, and some of the seeds fall in garden beds.
Scott: I have never been blinded by the light of God on the road to Damascus, but something started to stir on Zang Boulevard when I encountered this congregation.
Congregation: Scott, we can see God’s light in you. God’s light is part of you on this road or any road where your journey may lead.
Cantor: And the seeds begin to grow where they fell. Some are quickly scorched by the Texas sun, some are trampled by people scurrying to appointments, some nourish little ducks splashing at the water’s edge, and some find their life by growing into plants and producing more seed.
Scott: I have never written an epistle to churches near and far, but I have picked up a paintbrush recently and I have hosted a gallery and shared my artistic visions with this church.
Congregation: Scott, you are inspired by the Spirit of God and inspiring us to encounter the Spirit of God using your gifts.
Cantor: I tell you about the realm of God.
Scott: I don’t have a story like Samuel’s call. I never heard God voice speaking my name, wooing me out of my deep sleep.
Congregation: Scott, we are witnesses to your waking as God has stirred you from the slumbers of predictability and sedateness. God has called you in the voices of hungry fed. In the voices of English learners taught. God has called you as a steady voice in a time of transition. God has called, God is calling, God will call you continuously in a myriad of voices.
Cantor: Who can understand the mysteries of the realm of God?
Scott: But why me? Who am I to follow the mysterious voice into the realm of God into the path of seminary?
Scott comes to be anointed at the altar with these words: “You are a beloved child of God. Go where She leads you.”
Congregation: Scott, you are following the stirring of the Spirit in you. We affirm the voice of that Spirit. We hold you in your journey.
Scott: I am grateful for your support and your encouragement as I live into this part of my journey. I affirm the mystery that is the realm of God. My path into seminary is now solid and sure. My journey through seminary and my future after seminary are mysteries that I will live into. Community, I ask that you encourage me when I am doubtful, stand with me when I am scared, celebrate with me when I succeed, and call me out if I ever think that the lessons of seminary are all the lessons that I will need in life.
Congregation: Scott, go to seminary surrounded by the love and care of this community. Do not worry that you are alone, God is calling each of us to live into the gifts and opportunities that we have and we journey with you. Live boldly into the mystery of the realm of God. Be the carefree sower who is called to spread seeds and who doesn’t worry about where the seeds might land. Be the scattered seed that lives into the experience and has no control over the ground to which it might be called. And be the rich earth, carefully prepared ready to nourish and bring forth a bountiful harvest from the seeds of experience thrown your way. Our blessing on your journey, Amen.