SCRIPTURE READING Mark 4:26-29
Jesus also said, “The kingdom of God is as if someone would scatter seed on the ground, and would sleep and rise night and day, and the seed would sprout and grow, he does not know how. The earth produces of itself, first the stalk, then the head, then the full grain in the head. But when the grain is ripe, at once he goes in with his sickle, because the harvest has come.”
With many such parables he spoke the word to them, as they were able to hear it; he did not speak to them except in parables, but he explained everything in private to his disciples.
This morning I am going to begin with a seed. Do you want to see this seed grow? I wonder what it will become – a tree filled with delicious apples, a beautiful flower, an ear of grain to help feed hungry people, maybe a tall beanstalk reaching up to the sky?
So I’m going to set it on the table and we’ll watch it grow. OK, ready? Here goes! Does anyone see anything happening yet? No? How about now? Not yet? How about now?
If you’ve done this before you know that for a seed to grow there are some essential ingredients. Who can name them? SOIL, WATER, SUNLIGHT. If we want this seed to grow we need to plant it in soil, give it plenty of water, and make sure that the sun is shining on it.
Some other things can be added. Patience, for one! Have you ever talked with your plants? Have you ever sung to them? Encouraging your seed with words and songs won’t hurt, and it might even help.
The amazing thing is that God created this seed ready to grow. Scientists have created many amazing things in this world, radios, televisions, computers, medicines, cars, spaceships, but no one has ever created a seed like this. In each seed God has included everything that it needs to live and grow. No one else can do do that, but God.
Seeds aren’t the only things that grow. Children do too! Let’s try one. Let’s watch ______ grow. OK, ready? Here goes. Anything happening yet? No? How about now? I think something needs to be added!
When I first came here our oldest high school students were just little children, learning to talk, learning to walk. Now they’ve grown up! How did they grow? Soil, water and sunlight? With people it’s food and water and a lot of love. I think it also helps to talk and sing!
One of the special times in our home with our granddaughter is at bedtime when we read stories and sing songs. There’s a song that I first sang to her when she was a tiny baby, and she still likes to hear it:
Down the road just a mile or two, Lives a little girl named Ellie Blue
About so high, her hair is brown, The Prettiest thing boys in this town
Down the road, down the road, Got a pretty little girl down the road
Now every time I get the blues, I walk the soles right off my shoes
I don’t know why I love her so, That pretty little girl of mine lives down the road
To adopt my son Roberto I had to take ten weeks of classes at the Department of Social Services. One night we did role plays to help us prepare for parenting a challenging child. In one role play the child came with a lot of serious behavioral problems. The prospective father in the role play was asked how he would approach this challenging girl who was hitting and biting and fighting all of the time. He thought for a long moment and then said, “she’s going to need love, a lot of love”. I think that’s true for every one of us – we’re all going to need a lot of love in order to grow.
How about grown-ups? Are they growing? Let’s ask them. Are you still growing? Maybe we’re not getting any taller, but we’re still learning, developing, becoming smarter, wiser and more faithful.
How about a church? Can a church grow? Sure, we can expand the size of our building, add to the height of our steeple., we can grow in numbers of people (welcome, Max!), but most of all we grow in spiritual energy. God has included all of the growth forces that we need. All we have to do is plant and harvest. The growth comes from God.
We don’t have to find the things that make us grow. God has already included them in each seed! Love – It’s already there! Peace – it’s already there! Healing – it’s already there! Hope – it’s already there! Joy – it’s already there! It’s all there; all we have to do is let it grow!