Back in the late 90’s I worked for a unit within Lucent called Inferno that developed an operating system that sat and ran in less than a megabyte of space. I still don’t understand what that really means, but we on the business side of things knew that our OS was small and elegant, not massive and ungainly like all that Microsoft stuff. One of the guys I worked with always said that though our OS was small, it packed a powerful punch. He said it so often that no matter what he was talking about, we’d ask him “Does it pack a powerful punch?”
This morning, “Jesus manages to convey something about the smallness of the kingdom via two stories that are themselves pretty tiny. And yet, like the seeds also depicted, these small little parables pack a (powerful) punch.
“The kingdom is finally a mystery. It’s like a farmer who tosses seed out onto a field and then walks away. He sleeps, he gets up. Days come and days go but somehow, even as the farmer is doing apparently nothing, the seeds grow. In verse 28 you read the phrase “all by itself,” and in Greek that is the word automate, from which we get our word “automatic.” Automatically, mysteriously, without any apparent outside assistance, the seeds just grow and suddenly the day arrives when you’ve got a whole field of wheat ready to be harvested.”1
If that doesn’t seem to mean anything, well, you’re not alone. It may even seem to mean that we should go about our lives like the farmer in the parable: sprinkle some seeds here and there, then go read the paper for about three months, and bang! The work is somehow done.
But, of course, it can’t be that simple. Our lives show us that it’s not that simple, that very little about life is simple at all. Like the farmer, we can’t control the rain. “We live in…a world with huge threats to existence and with sickeningly large social and geopolitical problems… There are dictators harboring or seeking weapons of mass destruction, many of which threaten our survival as a species… There are diseases like AIDS galloping through Africa, threatening to wipe out the better part of an entire generation of people. Hunger and poverty loom up like a whole mountain range of daunting problems whose heights we don’t know how to scale.”2
And yet, somehow the Kingdom of God is like a mustard seed, seemingly insignificant when set against the scope of life’s complications; it’s like scattered seed that magically manages to sprout and grow. It just doesn’t seem like enough.
What we are doing this morning (this weekend) might seem like a small thing, like it might not be enough. Just the simple act of taking three babies and pouring some water over their heads in the back of a small parish church on a bluff along the confluence of a creek and a river.
That might not sound like much, but it’s actually one of the biggest things to happen in history. Three souls are to be washed clean this morning, three names written in the book of life. The Son of the living God came down from Heaven and took flesh – He looked just like these three – and now they will become His brothers; now they will join our family, the family of all the baptized, and they will by the sacrament of rebirth be made ready to fight for the Kingdom of God, to sprinkle seeds of the Kingdom wherever they go, to be ambassadors of that Kingdom.
What a privilege it is to be a part of that work; that work starts here, with worship, with the baptized receiving the Body and Blood of our Lord Jesus, with being together to celebrate these holy mysteries together. That work extends to the duty we have to these little ones, our duty to our neighbors and to each other, the duty of being a blessing to all those around us to the benefit of others and to the glory of the Kingdom of God. Today we are reminded that even the smallest of acts and the tiniest of people are infinitely important to God and His Kingdom. We all, in fact, pack a powerful punch.
1Scott Hoezee, This Week. http://cep.calvinseminary.edu/sermon-starters/proper-6b/?type=the_lectionary_gospel