Weeds Everywhere

 

I still remember the day of my high school graduation ceremony like it was yesterday – stepping up onto the stage and how we all walked across the stage to shake the hand of our principal and receive a diploma and how we walked out of the auditorium together thinking anything in the world was possible.

This past week Henrico, Hanover, Richmond, Chesterfield and more graduated the class of 2018 and all these students had a chance to celebrate. Seniors walked across the stage dressed in long robes and wearing mortarboards and are now stepping into the liminal space where their childhood is fading and the future possibilities of what can-be and the future God is preparing for them is coming into clearer focus.

Epiphany’s 2018 senior class a group of incredibly gifted young men and women. This past week we gathered together to congratulate and celebrate these seniors to tell them we love them and will miss them. They are hard workers. They have been successful in academics and received some impressive scholarships, that have excelled in athletics and set all kinds of records, they have given of themselves and served in the community working at summer camps with children to change their lives for the better. They have worked so hard and they have been so successful.

Our whole life we grow up hearing, seeing, and trusting that success comes from hard work. Success comes from the things we do – from our sweat and the time we put in. We learn it in school, in our vocational life: hard work will give us success, and success comes from hard work.

Jesus wants to challenge this notion with a story about a seed that grows secretly at night while the sower sleeps. The sower does his work, he scatters the seed, he rises night and day, gets up day after day, but he does not how and he doesn’t know why that seed will grow. He might have broken his back with work and sweated until he couldn’t sweat anymore, but he knows as he lies in his bed that the harvest can only come as a gift. It is a miracle and a mystery how that seed will grow, and Jesus says, so it is with the Kingdom of God.

Now, our seniors have worked hard and none of them could have succeeded as they have if they hadn’t worked hard. And we are called to work hard and use what we’ve been given, and it is a wonderful gift to be able to use our body and mind to give our self to our family and our community, but in the end we know aht everything we have and all that we are is given from God and the kingdom of God comes through God’s initiative.

God’s unconditional love and acceptance comes to you as a perfectly free gift, with no strings attached, and is given to every person, no matter our race, gender, nationality, sexual orientation, size, age, ability level or background. And God walks with us every day. Nothing changes God’s perfectly free gift of love and nothing can stop it.

Jesus brings God’s kingdom and says God’s kingdom is like a mustard seed.

The first thing about a mustard seed is that its small. It is so small you can hardly see it, but that small seed grows into a decent sized shrub, eight or ten feet tall, and is large enough to give shelter to birds, insects and all kinds of life, and by a miracle grows very large.

Jesus says, small things through God’s touch can be made large and can make a huge difference in our lives.

So Jesus might say: The kingdom of God is like a when we give a donation of a pint of our blood. It is a small gift to you. It take 15 minutes, and you won’t miss a pint of your blood, but with this small gift a life can be saved in an emergency and think what it would feel like if you were the one saved or think about the impact this gift makes on this person’s family and community.

Jesus says, small things through God’s touch can be made large and can make a huge difference in our lives.

Jesus might say: The Kingdom of God is like a Stephen Minister who is trained to visit and care for and pray with people who are in need of a spiritual friend while there are experiencing grief. The small gift of an hour can transform the outlook of a person receiving care. My mother’s mother was in a very low place in her life after my grandfather died, by Holy Trinity Lutheran Church connected her with a Stephen Minister and we all witnessed the renewed outlook of hope that ministry gave to her and to us.

Jesus might say: The Kingdom of God is like a camp counselor. This past week Camp Caroline Furnace kicked off the summer and I heard the story of a camper who was really struggling in their faith. They came to their counselor and said, “We’ve been hearing a lot about God this week…Is God real?” Now the counselor could have given a theological answer, asked the child to open the Bible for an in-depth scriptural analysis, or shared the story of a personal experience of God, but the counselor was wiser than that. When the camper asked, “Is God real?” The counselor said enthusiastically, “YES!” The camper said to her counselor, “I just knew it!”

Think about how little the word “yes” is. A small answer – one word in fact – “Yes!!” But the Kingdom of God came into the life of that child who knew to give what they had received onto the next person.

God takes small things, sees their value, and does miraculously large things in our lives.

A mustard seed is small. That is true. But the other thing about a mustard seed is that it is a weed. It’s a weed that you can’t get rid of and they grew all over Palestine in Jesus’ day. As Jesus talked about this mustard seed, people knew he was talking about a weed that would grow up without any of their doing. They would take over peoples’ gardens, and block old paths, and come up between the stones in the streets.

A mustard seed is like a crepe myrtle that you can crepe murder but which always comes back.

A mustard seed is like the dandelion that you can mow over with the lawnmower, but he comes back with ten of his friends.

The kingdom of God is like a weed that’s everywhere and it can’t be killed. It is going to push through the concrete and break it apart, no matter what you do its going to come back.

It’s like Jesus, who the world in its sinfulness crucified. We wanted to get rid of him because we didn’t want God’s rule of love to take over our lives, but God raised him on the third day, to give life and love to the whole world.

The Kingdom of God cannot be stopped.

So there is question is for us, who know God’s grace in our life, who have received the word and had our lives transformed. The question is: into whose life are you being called to scatter seeds?

We have heard the message that God’s love us unconditionally. Into whose life are you now being called to share the seed of this word?

Into whose life are you planting seeds of the Kingdom?

We are all called to scatter this seed.

Some people are called to go to seminary. Today there is a group meeting between our worship service to talk about a mission or service trip to Appalachia coal country or Papua, New Guinea – our sister and companion Synod across the world – or perhaps some other place – there so many places that can use our service, but before we might go to serve in the name of Christ and after we return there is work to do here. I believe you are right where God has called you and we as a congregation are right where God has called us to be.

When I was about ten years old I played little league baseball for the first time. We all went to practice a number of times. We all put on our real uniforms for the first time. But I especially remember the first inning of our first game. I was in right field. The ball was hit to the third baseman and I took off as fast as I could go over to third base to help the third baseman. A ball got hit to left field and I took off across the whole field to go help the left fielder. At the end of the inning the coach pulled me aside and said “You know, I need you in right field. Just stay there and when the ball comes, catch it.”

God is all over the place, through out the world. Active in our lives. And he has put us where we are. He out you where you are. He has put Epiphany here where we are, to scatter seeds in this place so people will come to know Christ.

And our neighbors and friends, this community and the world need to hear about the God of love revealed in Jesus Christ to welcome all, especially when some quote scripture to support the practice of breaking families apart and separating children from their parents at our border. The world needs to hear about Jesus who calls us to take care of our neighbor, love our neighbor, and treat others as we would like to be treated, especially in a world of judgment and blame and hostility. The world need to hear that we’re called to love all because we’ve are loved as a perfectly free gift with no strings attached.

So, into whose life are you being called to scatter this seed?

It makes a world of difference, and here are the two parts of the good news:

God brings the success and the growth. It’s not up to us. The seed grows at night while we sleep, AND God does graciously use us and our life to scatter the seed.

Into whose life is God calling you to scatter the seed of his word?

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