by Kathy Matuschka
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Night and day, whether he sleeps or gets up, the seed sprouts and grows, though he does not know how (Mark 4:26,27).
This week’s readings employ agricultural imagery to help us understand the mystery of the kingdom of God.
Do you know how a seed sprouts and grows? I am both astounded by the agricultural technology and expertise available today and inspired by the farmers who apply it in their daily work. At one level, we could say that today we know a lot more about seed germination than people did in Jesus’ time.
But still today, no-one can produce a seed and make it grow. That is God’s work. I have watched friends negotiate the ups and downs of prolonged drought: sometimes crops do pretty well despite minimal rain, and other times, crops are ruined by rain only days before the harvest was due. When it comes to producing a harvest, many things can trump hard work, expertise, materials and technology.
Jesus uses planting and harvesting metaphors to help us imagine what the kingdom of God is like. The strange thing is that in contrast to my skilled and hard-working friends, the farmer in today’s parable doesn’t seem to be putting in much effort at all. Did the farmer plough the ground before scattering the seed? Does the farmer, in fact, sleep or get up and work? We aren’t told. This agricultural account sounds so casual that I wonder if this sort of farmer even deserves to see a good harvest.
And yet the harvest comes, the growth that we cannot guarantee, control or predict. The growth that isn’t about us. What kind of kingdom is this?
Dear God, I could spend a lifetime trying to make sense of what you are doing and how you are doing it. For today, I thank you for welcoming me into your kingdom and assuring me of your love and provision. In Jesus’ name, Amen.