Jesus often taught in parables, stories that drew his disciples’ attention to their ordinary surroundings. The kingdom of God, he says, is like the scattering of a seed upon the ground. In this reading he likens what God is up to in the world to the common labor of a farmer, who plants in order to ensure sustenance.
In our rhythms of life, we work and rest. In the economy of God’s kingdom, as we sleep, the work continues. The seed sprouts and grows, and we cannot account for this!
One of my temptations is to believe that I am self-sufficient. I want to convince myself that I have earned what I possess. I can point to particular projects or academic degrees. I have entered into fields of labor. I have grasped handfuls of seed and scattered them. I have been intentional, conscientious, and deliberate.
And yet in the rhythm of work and rest, I have at times set the labor aside. I came to the end of my capacity. And at times I have watched as something mysterious and even miraculous occurred. There was change, growth, even transformation. And, if I were honest, I could take no credit for it.
In God’s kingdom, there are divine gifts within every living being. Generativity is built into the fabric and design of all of life. If we work and watch and wait, we will see order—first the stalk, then the head, then the full grain in the head.
As accomplished and invested as we might be, we cannot produce growth. Growth is always a miracle. It is always a gift. We cooperate with the Creator, but in the end we confess that we do not know why or when the harvest is to come.
We know only that God calls us to be faithful—to scatter the seed—and to give thanks for the mysterious gifts that surround and sustain us.
O God, your kingdom comes as a gift. Accept our labors, and yet make us attentive to the mystery of your grace in the midst of our work. Amen.
From a human perspective, we tend to judge people by appearances: how attractive they are, how wealthy they seem to be. God’s standard, however, is not outward appearance but the attitude of the heart. David was the youngest brother in his family, but God knew his mighty heart and chose him as the next king of Israel. The psalmist declares that God gives victory to those who put their trust in God, not in the outward appearance of might. Jesus reinforces this truth with the parable of the mustard seed. Paul tells the Corinthians that we should no longer judge by what we see on the outside, for God changes what really matters—what is on the inside.
Read 1 Samuel 15:34–16:13. When have outward appearances prevented you from seeing someone’s value as a child of God?
Read Psalm 20. How do you discern whether your “heart’s desire” is in line with what God wants for your life?
Read 2 Corinthians 5:6-17. In what ways are you “urged on” by the love of Christ? How do you behave differently because you know Christ’s love?
Read Mark 4:26-34. When have you seen God make much of a small gift that you offered?
Respond by posting a prayer.
I join many of those who will pray for you as you seek to discern what you are called to be at this moment. May God grant you the courage to fulfill that calling. May we all open our eyes and see the misery, open our ears and hear the cries of God’s people, and, like God through the Lord Jesus Christ, be incarnate amongst them.”
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