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Rector's Reflection: Scattering and Sprouting, June 15, 2024

Beloved Members of St. Martin’s,


Our gospel reading for this week (Mark 4:26-34) depicts Jesus using humble agricultural metaphors to help understand what the kingdom of God is like. First Jesus compares the kingdom of God this way: it is as if someone scatters seed on the ground and then goes to sleep, to rise the next day and see the sprouts, knowing you had nothing to do in the actual sprouting.


Many times I think we pass over that brief little parable in our rush to the next parable, which is about a mustard seed producing a giant bush. But what if we took seriously the underlying reminder to us all—that much of what we take for granted in the abundance our planet provides to us has nothing to do with our own cleverness or control, but with the miracles of natural processes?


Earlier this year, we paid for a company to come out and clear all the underbrush, especially the Chinese honeysuckle and the poison ivy out from the woods that forms our front yard. Before this area was broken by dense human settlement, naturally occurring fires would have taken care of this task for us every few years, but we humans have altered this eternal arrangement—and the result is weeds, non-native species’ proliferation, and unhealthy density in the understory of the forest.


Through these last two seasons since the forest was tended to, we have been amazed by how sun-dappled and airy that entire area now feels, and we were really enjoying that. But last evening, I noticed a new benefit: there are now more fireflies, butterflies and bees in that part of our yard, as ferns and wildflowers who had been starved of sunlight have begun popping up underneath the remaining trees.


How do we then take this knowledge and apply it to the kingdom of God? Maybe by understanding that we DO have a responsibility to scatter the seed and then to notice the growth when it happens. We have to be brave enough to testify to the abundance of God’s grace in our lives, so that others can see the fruitfulness as well. The scattering and the tending is in our control—but the sprouting and growth belong to God.


In Christ,

Mother Leslie+


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