Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Mark 4:26-34
Jesus 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."
He also said, "With what can we compare the kingdom of God, or what parable will we use for it? It is like a mustard seed, which, when sown upon the ground, is the smallest of all the seeds on earth; 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."

 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.

1 comment:

  1. Two thousand years ago Jesus told these stories to people who lived in the Middle East, the part of the world that is the historical origin of Christianity, Judaism, and Islam. These ancient people were pretty certain they knew who God was; King of King, Lord of Lords, God who ruled with power and might. Theirs was the God of the rock, the same rock in Jerusalem that all three great religions still fight over; the Foundation Stone, the Temple Rock, the Dome of the Rock. Our ancient brothers and sisters knew what power and might looked like – it looked like horses and chariots, gleaming swords and bloody triumph. To the people with whom Jesus was talking, God’s power mostly looked like destroying their enemy.

    So why in the world was Jesus telling stories about seeds? What did he mean when he said to the disciples, “To you has been given the secret of the Kingdom of God?” Can’t you just see them scratching their heads, rubbing their eyes and trying to wrap their minds around his words? “The kingdom of God is as if someone would come and scatter seed upon the ground… and would sleep and rise and … the seed would grow?” Or, “With what can we compare the kingdom of God?... it is like a mustard seed?”

    Thirteen hundred and sixty or so years later the great tradition of telling inscrutable stories about seeds continued. The twenty year old English Mystic Julian of Norwich was near her death. A priest had given her last rites and placed a crucifix on her chest. And then Julian had 16 visions or “Revelations of Divine Love.” Immediately following her visions Julian sat up from her deathbed and was well. She spent the rest of her life meditating, writing and interpreting the revelations. About one of her visions Julian wrote that she saw something very small in the palm of her hand, “no bigger than a hazelnut.” In her heart of hearts Julian knew that everything in creation was contained in that tiny nut. And when Julian thought, “this is so small it could fall into nothing,” God showed her that, “it lasts and always will, because God loves it, and thus everything has being through the love of God, because God loves it.” (from “Revelations of Divine Love”)

    Today devout Jews, Christians and Muslims travel to Jerusalem to be near their God, the God of Abraham. They stretch out their hands to touch the rock on which Abraham laid his son (Isaac or Ishmael depending on whose story you read) a sacrifice to God. They get on their knees to be near the rock on which Jesus was crucified. They are silent before the rock on which Jesus’ body was laid and raised from the dead. Three great religions all seek God at the rock. I wonder what would happen if devout Jews and Christians and Muslims would all put something “no bigger than a hazelnut” or “mustard seed” in the palms of their hands and with the eyes of their hearts open to see as God sees remember that, all beings of the earth can make their nests in God’s shade because God’s kingdom is “the smallest of all the seeds on earth and yet.. it is the greatest of all shrubs.”