The Third Sunday after Pentecost; Proper 6B (6/14/2015)

Lessons:Ezekiel 17:22-24 Psalm 92:1-4, 12-15 (12) 2 Corinthians 5:6-10 [11-13] 14-17 St. Mark 4:26-34

Semi-continuous Series: 1 Samuel 15:34 – 16:13 Psalm 20 (6)

Prayer of the Day O God, you are the tree of life, offering shelter to all the world. Graft us into yourself and nurture our growth, that we may bear your truth and love to those in need, through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord. Amen.

4:26 [Jesus] also said, “The kingdom of God is as if someone would scatter seed on the ground, 27 and would sleep and rise night and day, and the seed would sprout and grow, he does not know how. 28 The earth produces of itself, first the stalk, then the head, then the full grain in the head. 29 But when the grain is ripe, at once he goes in with his sickle, because the harvest has come.”

30 He also said, “With what can we compare the kingdom of God, or what parable will we use for it? 31 It is like a mustard seed, which, when sown upon the ground, is the smallest of all the seeds on earth; 32 yet when it is sown it grows up and becomes the greatest of all shrubs, and puts forth large branches, so that the birds of the air can make nests in its shade.”

33 With many such parables he spoke the word to them, as they were able to hear it; 34 he did not speak to them except in parables, but he explained everything in private to his disciples.

St. Mark 4:26-34 New Revised Standard Version Bible (C)1989, Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America.

Of Dandelions and Mustard Seeds

I’m not a fan of dandelions, and I’m not exactly sure when that came to be. I was aware of these small yellow flowers as a young boy. Like most boys I brought home a bouquet of dandelions for my mother a time or two. I thought they were pretty, and a field filled with dandelions seemed natural and attractive to me in those days.

My distaste for dandelions probably began to take form when I became a homeowner. I like a deep-green lawn, free of weeds and bare spots. Dandelions in the midst of a carefully tended lawn are an eyesore to someone who has a vision for what the back yard should look like, and an indication that the person in charge of the lawn is not doing a very effective job of it.

My family and I recently moved from a home that had a 5,600 square foot back yard. To me it wasn’t a back yard: it was a battlefield. When we moved in seven years ago the back yard was filled with dandelions. (The home had been a rental for years, and none of the renters ever had a heart to fight the weeds.) During the time we lived there, I tried everything I could think of to get rid of those dandelions. I tried to fertilize early in the Spring with something that had a pre-emergent component. I purchased bottle after bottle of weed killer. The past couple of years, i got down on my hands and knees to pull 25-50 dandelions a day. No matter what i did, they seemed to come back over and over again. It was a war that I never won.

It is said that a weed is a plant which grows where someone has decide it shouldn’t. That’s how i thought about those dandelions. And that is how first century people thought about the mustard plant. it too was considered a weed. Nobody who was of sound mind would plant mustard seeds, any more than a homeowner today would plant dandelion seeds.

It is with a wink and a nod that Jesus tells this parable about the mustard seed. The smallest of all seeds on earth; it grows to become the greatest of all shrubs. (Shrubs? What about the towering Cedars of Lebanon? Couldn’t Jesus have used that analogy?) Truth is: it grew to be one of the most troublesome weeds. People may have thought he was crazy as he wound out this tale. Or perhaps they saw the wisdom in what he was saying. Mustard seeds seemed to have the capacity to multiply and grow despite the land owner’s best efforts to suppress them. As do dandelions. And as does the Kingdom of God.

We are called to plant seeds of God’s kingdom in all that we do. We are also reminded that kingdom growth is due to the miraculous work of God. We do our best to make a strong beginning, but the outcome is both gift and miracle. The kingdom of God grows like a field contaminated with mustard plants, or a back yard filled with dandelions.

God, help us to be faithful in sowing seeds of love and grace in this world. Help us be diligent in creating ministries that are as strong and as effective as they can be. And grant us the patience to allow your gracious, miraculous power move through them. Amen.

David J. Risendal, Pastor

Exploring This Week’s Gospel:

  1. What do these two kingdom parables have in common?
  2. What other current parables to a mustard plant come to mind?
  3. What is Jesus trying to say to his disciple with these two stories?

Connecting with This Week’s Gospel:

  1. What seeds of God’s kingdom have I been involved in planting?
  2. When have I seen the kind of growth that only comes from God?
  3. For what ministries and/or individuals am I praying today, that they might have new life?