Jesus also 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.
(Lectionary, New Revised Standard Version)
When I moved into a new home 18 months ago I had no idea what plants would appear in the garden, since it was so overgrown. But slowly I cut back the weeds to discover winding stone paths and made space for things to grow. Then I waited patiently to see what perennial plants might appear. The year was one of discoveries! In Spring the garden lit up with snowdrops and lily of the valley, then daffodils and tulips. After this came the irises, lady's mantle, lilies, peonies, and crocosmia. Then there were the flowering shrubs like dogwood, hebe and fuschia, and of course the trees, cherry, crab apple and plum. I spent much time watching shoots sprout, often with no idea what they were at first, but it was magical.
Jesus equates seeds with the way the Kingdom of God grows. Mark's Gospel is the only Gospel to have the first of these two parables. The farmer plants the seed and can help or hinder its growth, but ultimately it will continue to grow, until he harvests the grain. In the second parable the Kingdom of God will ultimately be the 'greatest of all shrubs'. Like the sower we too can help or hinder God's Kingdom to grow, but ultimately it will flourish across the world.
When we think the world has "gone to the devil", we need to be patient and help to encourage God's Kingdom of love to keep growing; we need to remember that just as seeds grow almost unnoticeably they do actually grow, and so will God's Kingdom; and we need to have hope, for as Christians we believe that God will achieve His ends finally.
may we remember that the seeds
of Your Kingdom
have been growing secretly
and that when we think
nothing is happening,
growth is still occurring.
Give us hope to play our part,
and patience to see that love
will continue to grow
in Your world.
You might like to sing this lovely hymn to remind you of God and His greatness - I can only find it online as a children's hymn, but it's in a lot Kevin Mayhew's hymn books and is a lovely hymn to lift the spirits of us all:
Or, from Songs of Praise: