Pastor's Ponderings: Meandering through Mark 4:26-29 (November 20,2023)
As you prepare for the celebration of our nations Thanksgiving day, please be sure to give thanks to God. All of the benefits that are in our lives are from the Father in Heaven. May the holiday be filled with joy for you and your family and friends. At our home we will gather with 17 people. We will enjoy our meal together, and then I will get an outside fire going in our chiminea that we can enjoy and gather around socially. Today I am asking prayers for our son Joshua who has been unemployed for six months. He is interviewing but nothing has developed yet. We will speak with him again on Thanksgiving Day. Prayers too please for Becky P's former husband Dave. He has been diagnosed with lung cancer. He is a Lutheran Pastor in the upper midwest. May the Lord bless him with healing and sustain his hope in Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior.
Today we continue our study of the statements which are made, according to Mark, sequentially by Jesus. As I told you, they appear as separated statements in Matthew and Luke. This statement is unique, because it is only found in the Gospel of Mark. What it does do though is fit well with the pattern of Jesus to speak in terms that would be easily understood by the people to whom He was preaching. They understood the growing of crops in fields or private gardens. So let's get started. The best interpretation of the beginning of this passage is to use "reign of God" in place of Kingdom of God. This passage is talking about the day when all of the world will come to know God the Creator, Redeemer, and Sustainer of Life. (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit). We know that there are many believers in God, Jewish, Moslem, and Christian in the world, but there are hundreds of millions of people and more who do not yet know the One True God! Yet, it is God's plan that every person know Him, and indeed that the whole of the Universe comes to know Him as God.
So in using the imagery of growth of crops, Christ is telling those who are with him, and through Mark, us, that the wisdom of this parable helps us to know how this all inclusive knowing of God will unfold before us.
1. It tells us, that in the face of such an overwhelming task, to which we all are called, it is only by God's hand that what seems to be a small beginning will unfold before us, and we will not really know how it has been moved to happen. It is like the navel orange tree in my north yard. It get fragrant flowers in the Spring, and then they all fall off the tree, and look as I might, I rarely can see any thing that looks like a beginning orange. Yet later in the month of June, oranges appear as little green balls that get bigger through the summer and fall months. I can't see them get bigger if I sit at the tree and watch, but certainly they do. I know they will be ready by late December, and that they will be bright orange in color. That color appears in the same way, without my help. This whole process occurs by the hand and power of God through His creation. By Christ's words in this parable we can know that the unfolding of this faith knowledge is happening as I write this study, and as you read it. God is amazing in the ways that He chooses to work in His Creation. What I am really talking about is how the Freedom of the Will is moved to change. It is, at first, very self centered. Yet God's faith gift continues to move with quiet power to bring itself into the life of God's children, and to convince the self that there is a Holy One above all things, and most certainly above me, and with me and you. It is constantly moving into the lives of all living things.
a. Sometimes, the growth of the reign of God is imperceptible, but if we wait, perhaps hundreds of years, we will know that God has always been working.
b. So we know that the reign of God has always been growing. It is constant!
c. And like plants that are cared for, the reign of God is inevitable.
This all makes such good sense to us, yet we are continuing to see the work of the Gospel dismissed by our youngest generation, and boomers seem to think that they don't need the Church to have faith and to be faithful. The Church is the gift of Christ for His people. It will be restored one day to its importance in everyone's lives.
This parable also tells us that like the produce of the land which will mature and be harvested, because that is the inevitable outcome. That the reign of God shall have its consummation just as inevitably because it is God who is making it all happen. By the way, have you been watching, and then wondering if the reign of God is going to make it?
You should only have doubts if you are thinking that people will never get the work done. What looks impossible, with God's Work, Jesus Christ's forgiveness, and the Spirit's guidance, everything that God's Reign is meant to bring, will be provided.
Finally, it is a foolish farmer who has not gotten ready for the harvest, So what we need to know - it is our time to be certain that we are getting ready and will be prepared for the reign of God to become our full reality, along with the rest of God's creation.
I am getting all of my vaccinations this morning, so tomorrow's study may be late, or not happen, if I am off my feet recovering.
In Christ Love, Pastor Kim.