Summary: Proper 6 (b) Christ Himself grows His church by His eternal Word, in and through us, and for and to others.
May the words of my mouth, and the meditations of our hearts, be acceptable in Thy sight,
O Lord, our Rock and our Redeemer. Amen.
“How does your garden grow?”
Do you garden much? Do you have a garden this year? We had a cold spring, and wet too, so some things are late getting started. And if not a full garden, perhaps you have a small patch – some peppers, lettuce, and zucchini. Maybe just tomatoes. Whether you say to-MAY-to or tom-MAH-to, they sure are good. Or maybe you are all about flowers. Perhaps you don’t garden now, but you used to. The question from our Gospel today is, “How does your garden grow?”
Today’s Gospel brings us two short parables. These parable stories are about seeds, but the parables themselves are kingdom parables. They are about the kingdom of God. Thus they each start with the words, “The kingdom of God is like ….” So to understand them, we know that we need to be thinking about the kingdom of God.
In the first one, the farmer scatters his seed into the field. He lives his daily life, going about his other chores. And while he tends his garden and works in the garden, there is nothing he can do to make it grow. Suppose his neighbor asks him, “How does your garden grow?” He may say, “It’s doing fine. The lettuce is up, the squash is vining out, and the tomatoes are setting already.” “That’s good,” says the neighbor, “But didn’t ask how it is doing now, but how does it grow?” “Well, I put the seeds in the ground, and I keep it watered. Add a touch of Miracle-Gro. And with warm sun, soon it is growing.” “Okay, that is closer,” says the neighbor. “But that is all about what you do.” I mean, “How does the seed grow?”
Now, since this farmer went to agriculture college at Mizzou, he starts to tell his neighbor about the parts of the seed, the endosperm, epicotyl,(the baby leaf inside),the hypocotyl, and the radicle (the little babyroot inside the seed), and about germination techniques, scarification, and germination times.
“Very interesting, “ the neighbor remarks. But that tells me about the parts of the seed, and what the seed does. What I mean is, “How - Do - It - Grow?”
“Well, I don’t know,” says the farmer. “It just does. It’s a seed and that’s what seeds do.”
That is what Jesus says about the farmer in the parable and about the seed. The farmer goes about his business. He knows what to do with the seed. But he does not know what makes it grow. Why this seed grows and that seed does not.
But it does what it is supposed to do, and it does it by itself, meaning it does it automatically. And it does it over time. First there is a blade. "When the corn is as high as an elephant's eye and it looks like it's climbing clear up to the sky," the ears appear on the stalk. Then it tassels, and the full corn, the kernels fill out in the those ears. And you have to hope that you grab it before the raccoons do.
And that is what the farmer does. When the crop is ready, the farmer sends the sickle and harvests it.
So what does this mean? The parable is about the Kingdom and God. Who brings the kingdom into existence? Christ. During his ministry on earth, Christ was proclaiming that the kingdom was at hand. In the first place, the parable is about Him.
Christ is the seed. He is planted into the ground. By coming to earth, and in His burial. The parable reads, “when the grain is ripe.” The underlying words are “when the fruit presents itself.” Christ is the true vine. And He voluntary presented Himself as a sacrifice. And in the fullness of time, the Father sent the sickle, cutting Him off. “My God, my God, why have you forsaken Me?” Buried in the tomb, into the ground, Christ rose again, He is the first fruit of the resurrection. First the blade. And how did this all happen? We do not know. We only know what happened. We do not understand how.
How could an omnipresent God who created all become a man, a creature, confined in time and space? How could an eternal God die? We do not know. We only know that it is true and that it happened. And that from his death, He gives us life. “And Jesus answered them, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.”