June 17, 2012 - Third Sunday in Pentecost
"Scattering Seeds, Spreading Weeds"
Our scripture reading for Sunday is a couple of "kingdom" parables from the Gospel of Mark. (You can read the lesson here.) In both of the stories Jesus compares the kingdom of God to seeds being planted.
In the first parable, a farmer sows seed for his crop. He doesn't understand exactly how it happens, but he knows that the planted seeds will eventually produce wheat. In the second parable, a tiny little mustard seed becomes a shrub, so thick and full that it attracts birds to its shade.
The mustard seed metaphor is familiar. In the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus tells the disciples that if they have faith the size of a mustard seed, they can move a mountain. In Luke, Jesus says the same thing about a mulberry tree. As we listen to this story from Mark's gospel, most of us assume that here the mustard seed carries the same meaning as in Matthew and Luke. So, we regard this as a "faith starts small and grows big" kind of lesson.
But if we pay careful attention to what Jesus is actually saying, and we listen with the ears of Jesus' first-century, agrarian audience, we may just hear a very different meaning - a message not about the size of our faith, but the nature of God's kingdom. Perhaps Jesus' point is that - like those mustard plants (which are notoriously fast-growing and prolific) - the kingdom of God isn't something we can control. Could it be that this story is a promise (or a warning) that once the kingdom of God takes root, it will spread like an invasive, tenacious, unstoppable...weed?
Join us on Sunday as we explore that possibility.