Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Reading Parables that Read Us Mark 4:26-34

When crowds came close enough to listen to His teachings Jesus spoke in parables (Mark 4:33-34). Jesus' Parables read us pointing out what God sees in us leaving questions for later pondering and invitations to later action.

Reading Mark 4:26-34 we'll discover 2 of our great teacher's parables about the Kingdom of God: one about someone who scattered seed and one focused on a mustard seed. Alone with just His twelve closest followers Jesus said it plainly, but when crowds came 2000 years ago it was time for parables. And these same pointed stories speak today testifying about God's kingdom coming among us.

Jesus compared the kingdom of God with someone scattering seed. He doesn't know exactly how it sprouts but trusts it will (Mark 4:26-27). In our age of hybrids and genetic trait selection there's still no guarantee every seed planted in the spring will sprout and produce a harvest. Instead the person who scatters seed, like a person of faith, counts on something else often something unseen to do the work.

People of faith count on God the Holy Spirit to act unseen like the soil supporting seed as it sprouts and grows (Mark 4:28-29) Jesus invited his hearers to imaging the God's kingdom as a mustard seed starting small (Mark 4:30-31) but growing exponentially from tiny seed into a bush (Mark 4:32) David Lose explores the nature of mustard plants growing like weeds in a very powerful way in this story.

Over the past 3 years I've placed a mustard seed in the hand of each seventh grader starting Confirmation. Midwestern Lutherans, like me, put emphasis on Confirmation ministry. It's a tradition that's stayed alive for 12-15 year-olds as the majority of parents in the past two generations have drifted away from churches of all stripes. Young people come immediately facing their parent's inconsistency. They wonder why it matters if they know about God and church if their parents worship so infrequently if ever. They wonder why parents expect them to be in church for 3 years but don't come themselves. These kids come ready for seed. Troubles come when we aren't planting the seed these kids need. They need the seeds of faith—the stories of Jesus love and a chance to be part of the church—the living breathing people of God.

When we plant the seeds of Jesus in what we say and do we will see God at work. It's time to be church—planting the seeds with faith God will act. AMEN.

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