8th Sunday after Pentecost
July 26, 2020
Matthew 13:31-33, 44-52
I think most of us are familiar with the parable of the mustard seed. Today’s reading finds the mustard seed parable in the midst of several other parables Jesus is teaching. Jesus asks his disciples if they understand their meaning. In this story gone are the clueless disciples we found in the Gospel of Mark and instead we find them quite quick on the uptake. They understand them ALL! Wow!!
Even we could claim to understand the parable of the mustard seed. Doesn’t our faith begin very small and as we grow in faith it becomes larger. We would answer that of course we understand the kin-dom/reign of God. Similarly we know that the early church began with a small band of Christ followers and grew into a huge global entity.
The reign of God, even though it perhaps is not necessarily connected with the church, one can’t deny the fact that it is something powerful, mysterious, and big. Rev. Kathryn Matthews likens the mystery to that of leaven. We use yeast in the making of bread. The amount of yeast used is quite small in proportion to the flour and liquid used. But something mysterious happens as the yeast interacts with the other ingredients and before we know it there is enough dough to make a large batch of bread. According to our lesson this morning it was enough for 100 loaves of bread!
Jesus was a plain and simple man who identified with the common people. Therefore, he used tools in his teaching that would resonate with his followers. He chose nature images, everyday activities, ordinary people, to communicate how he experienced God and likewise how we might experience our Creator. Even if we have never baked a loaf of bread and smelled the wonderful aroma as it is removed from the oven; or, if we have never seen a mustard seed we can understand that from something very tiny something huge can be produced. We find Jesus’ words lovely, hopeful, and encouraging.
Barbara Brown Taylor in her book The Seeds of Heaven writes concerning the power of the parables. “How can language of earth capture the reality of heaven? How can words describe that which is beyond words? How can human beings speak of God?
Possibly we do best when we follow Jesus’ lead and stick with ordinary things and “[trust] each other to make the connections. We cannot say what it is, exactly, but we can say what it is like, and most of us get the message.”
Taylor observes that the reign of God is hidden in our parables this morning. What can that hiddenness teach us? Perhaps it teaches us that in our seeking there are clues hidden in the most ordinary everyday experiences; clues to all the holiness hidden in the humdrum experiences of our days. “It is possible that God decided to hide the kin-dom of heaven not in any of the ordinary places that treasure hunters would be sure to check but in the last place any of us would think to look, namely, in the ordinary circumstances of our everyday lives…” (Seeds of Heaven).
As you read this do you find yourself comforted and hopeful? For some this will be good news. For those with heavy burdens to bear it might be a bit harder. But know this: You are a child of God and beloved by God. Is our church a place where those in need of a family can find what they need? Do we understand indeed what Jesus is saying, what the Still speaking God is saying to us?
In the greatest of hope may it be so,