6-8-15 - Scattered Seeds

A person tosses a bunch of seeds on the ground, goes to sleep and wakes up for many days in a row, and is surprised to see plants sprouting around him. This is a description of:

  (a) Organic farming methods
  (b) A lifelong city dweller’s first experience in the countryside
  (c) The way things work in the realm of God

What does the story suggest to you?

Welcome to Seed Week in Bible Camp. I’ve never counted, but it seems to me that Jesus told more parables about seeds than any other one thing. In the passage just before this, Jesus tells a long, multi-part story about a sower of seeds, and the different results he gets according to where they fall. In this week’s gospel reading we get two more seed parables, short, simple – and if we harvest them well, yielding manifold meanings and gifts. Here is the first:

“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.”

We have no sower here, just “someone” who rather haphazardly scatters seed on the ground and then seems to be astonished that it sprouts and grows. How is this like the Kingdom of God?

Is Jesus saying that God is the careless scatterer, hoping that the kingdom values of love and faithfulness and power will take root in some? There appears to be no cultivating, weeding, tending, or watering – just “the earth producing of itself.” Does this suggest that some people are just naturally ready to grow and thrive? Or are we the ones unwittingly scattering the seeds of the gospel, and surprised when some sprout?

Or am I wrong to equate the seeds with people? Maybe the seeds are simply the movement of “getting it,” grasping the truth that Jesus was trying to communicate, about the way the Kingdom is already around, among, even in us. The truth grows in us – we don’t have to study and prepare, simply recognize and accept and live it.

Or perhaps we should focus on the sprouting plants, rather than the carelessness or cluelessness of the seed scatterer. The realm of God is constantly sprouting new life, grown from seeds we scarcely knew had been sown – and day after day, night after night, this growth continues apart from any effort we make.

What do you see when you play with this one?

This is what we do with parables – we turn them this way and that, try on different angles and interpretations, see what strikes a spark in us. Come to think of it, parables are kind of like scattered seeds that sprout and grow, we know not how...

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