Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Bethany Bullet - June 19, 2012

As we pause to honor fathers (Sunday, June 17), I can’t help but thinking of my own dad.  My dad was a simple man from southern Indiana who heard the Lord’s call to be a pastor at a young age.  He grew up in a family that grew most of their own food in their garden.  The Holy Spirit sent this country boy way out west after seminary.  My dad tells a story of his first months in his new parish when he was invited over to a members house for dinner. In the course of the evening my father learned that the member was an engineer.  My dad said that he had not met any engineer before, and that was that. 

He soon learned that quite a few members in the church were engineers.  He was puzzled by this new information.  He had no idea that so many people in southern California, worked in the railroad industry.  He had no idea what an engineer really did.

You can take the boy out of the country, but you can’t take the country out of the boy; a truth that exhibited itself in the fact that we always had a garden in our backyard.  I spent many hours with my dad, pruning and planting, caring and tending. I gained an appreciation for God’s living creation and how under the right conditions growth and the yielding of a harvest were possible.

That time spent in the presence of my dad, I gained a deeper appreciation for growth.  It takes just the right amount of water, sun, and tender care for growth.  Too much water, or too little, both could stunt growth and the vital component was the sun. 

For all of you biology people out there, you know the equation for growth.
Photosynthesis is the chemical process, necessary for life, creating sustenance in the sweetness of glucose, a sugar. 

This is a process which God initiated back in the first garden, Eden.  A perfect place filled with “trees that were pleasing to the eye and good for food.” (Genesis 2:9a)

Photosynthesis changes simple carbon dioxide and water into a complex sugar capable of sustaining life as we know it.  Without the sun it would be impossible.  With the sun a change takes place.

Before photosynthesis can happen a seed must be planted. 

The Bible is filled with stories, metaphors, and parables; about seeds and growth, life and abundance.  Two of them come before us today, our Old Testament lesson from Ezekiel and our Gospel lesson from the book of Mark.

From our Old Testament Lesson, “I will take a shoot from the very top of a cedar and plant it…it will produce branches and bear fruit.” (Ezekiel 17:22, 23)

And from our Gospel lesson, “What shall we say the kingdom of God is like…It is like a mustard seed…when planted, it grows and becomes the largest of all garden plants.” (Mark 4:30, 31, 32)

All growth is the result of the actions of another.  A seed planted in the ground, the tender hand of the gardener, watering and caring for the seed. 

It was just a few verses earlier in Mark 4 that Jesus tells the Parable of the Sower and He explains that the seed is the Word of God.  That seed is spread liberally on the earth and falls to the ground to sprout to life. But one of the most interesting things in creation is that for life to spring from the earth, the seed has to die.  With water and sunlight new life bursts forth and soon growth accompanied by the yielding of fruit is a result. 

This is a pretty good image for our life in Christ, and I think that is just what our text was getting to. 

The seed of faith was planted in you at some point in your life.  Perhaps it was the day God, our gardener watered the seed of faith as you were claimed in the waters of Baptism, or perhaps it was the moment the Word was sown into the soil of your heart as you heard the message of Jesus for the first time.  It was at that moment that you were changed, your sinful nature was drown and died, and new life sprung forth. 

This is a result of another death, that of Jesus, who was buried in the ground and who burst forth to bring life eternal to the world. 

Like growth in the natural world, the vital component for our spiritual life is the SON, the Son of God - Jesus Christ.

We too are called to yield in the presence of the Son.  Not yield as in to give way, but to produce, as we spend time in the Son’s presence. 

Spending time in the presence of the Son is necessary for life, He provides the sustenance in His body and blood, given and shed for us, and the sweet message of salvation that is found in no one else but Jesus, the Son of God.

The Son changes simple carbon beings into complex organisms capable of sharing the sweet sustenance of God’s Word.  Without the Son it would be impossible.  With the Son a change takes place.

The Apostle Paul reminds us of this fact in our New Testament lesson for today, “…if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come.” (2 Corinthians 5:17)

We yield under the tender hand of the Gardener, God almighty as he waters us with his word, as he prunes and plants us.  It may not always be easy, but it is for our good so that we might grow in him and yield a bumper crop of fruit for the benefit of others. 

It is not really a complex equation, and like a seed, we must die to sin, and rely on the living water poured over us and the food provided by the soil of the church and the food of His meal.

God calls us to yield in the presence of the Son so that others may benefit from our fruit and know the sweetness of the Savior.

It is what the season of Pentecost is all about.  There is a reason for the color green, it serves as a reminder that we are to grow in faith and that growth will yield a bumper crop that will be a blessing to others.  Even as we get to the 27th Sunday after Pentecost, do not lose hope, but continue to grow for the harvest is almost here.

On this Father’s Day, I am reminded of my own father who worked in the garden in our backyard which yielded fruit for our family, but more importantly I am reminded of his tireless efforts tending the garden of the church where he would yield in the presence of the Son to serve his Lord and he serves as an example to me today. 

So if you are feeling parched, come to the presence of the Son and experience the sweetness of Jesus who will produce in you abundant fruit.
Let us pray…

-Pastor Seth Moorman


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