written by Rev Gary Heard
The city winds blow regularly and with strength, moving many things from place to place. Occasionally our garden has been home to mail, papers, and leaves - even two quail which appeared in the garden after a windy night. During the past summer a tomato plant sprouted in a number of the orchid pots which sit on our verandah. I watched with wonder as one plant grew, forming buds and eventually setting fruit on the branch. It was an odd sight – a wiry plant with two leaves standing no more than 30 cm tall, yet holding two small tomatoes which slowly ripened. Where did these seeds come from, and how were they able to bear fruit in such spartan conditions which such a weak infrastructure?
When was the last time you grew a plant from seed?
Gardening can be a rich and fertile pasttime, watching plants grow, changing colour and shape and – in the case of vegetables – providing food for the table. It can also be frustrating, particularly in times of drought or other effects of nature which serve to impose another agenda on your garden. It can be a contest of wills, one which the wise gardener learns to accommodate.
The imagery of seeds associated with the kingdom of God reverberates through Jesus’ teaching. The parables of the mustard seed, the wheat and the tares, and the parable of the sower are just some which Jesus told to remind us that the work of God’s kingdom is organic and unpredictable in nature..
Cartoonist Johnny Hart mused:
A seed is such a miraculous thing,
It can sit on a shelf forever.
How it knows what to do when it's stuck in the ground
is what makes it so wonderfully clever.
That Jesus would use such an object of mystery and wonder to aid our understanding of the work of God’s kingdom bears much reflection. While biotechnologists seek to reengineer the seed to make it more predictable and to reduce the impact of external events upon its product, we are reminded ever that a seed has a life of its own, and it produces an outcome which often takes us by surprise. Our lack of attention to its needs can be fatal on the one hand, whilst in other circumstances it will thrive and produce much more than we expected.
The key lesson ever remains that without the planting of seed there is no produce to enjoy. The call of the gospel is to seed-planting and seed-scattering. Doing so is no guarantee of successs (just ask our drought-ravaged farmers), but failing to do so is a guarantee of barren return.
Where are you scattering seeds at this time? What circumstances or people are you seeking to impact for God’s kingdom, and how can we encourage one noather in this responsibility and calling?.
April 13, 2008