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6/14/2009 - The Rev. Caron A. Gwynn - The Second Sunday After Pentecost

posted May 21, 2010, 6:31 PM by Unknown user   [ updated May 21, 2010, 6:31 PM by Terry Brady ]
Text: Mark 26-29

In the name of the one holy and undivided Trinity. Amen.

Some of you are gardeners and you may appreciate hearing about my first gardening experience. I have been a city girl all of my life. Before going to West Africa in 1982, I had never planted or grown anything. All of the produce I consumed, was happily obtained from the grocery store.

In Africa, vegetable production is sparse and my Peace Corp trainers encouraged all of the volunteers to try and grow vegetables. They provided us with several packages of seeds and sent us on our way. The part of the country that I lived in was known for its low water table. This means that the water supply from the wells was limited and only available at certain times of the day.

I went to the village chief to ask for a small plot of land to use for my garden. He granted me some land behind the village health clinic where I worked. This was the ideal spot for me to plant. I could use the vegetables from the garden as show and tell for my nutrition classes and the well baby clinic talks for new mothers.

In the hot broiling sun, I trekked to my plot of land and began to prepare the land for my garden. I broke up the earth to make the nursery beds, planted the seeds, and watered the ground. The ground was very dry and difficult to break. I gained a new appreciation for farmers and the tillers of the land as I labored to create my garden.

I began to see the connection between nature and myself. I began to think of my dependence on the seeds I planted and their dependence on me to help them grow. I thought that if I did all that was required, everything would work out, and all of the seeds I planted would grow. All I had to do was be patient and wait for the rains to come. Finally, it did rain late one night.

I was asleep when I heard the first rain of the season arrive. I jumped up out of bed, ran outside, and danced in the rain. The whole time I was thinking about the water that my little garden was finally receiving. For several days and weeks, I watched over my garden and looked for signs of growth.

Only two out of the six different vegetable seeds I planted began to grow much to my surprise and my disappointment. I was expecting more for all of the energy and work I had put into the preparation of the garden. I really expected all of the seeds I had planted to grow! But, in spite of all of the energy, hard work, and attention I gave that garden – I learned that I was not in control of what was supposed to grow.

What was there for me to reap or harvest was not in my own hands or control but in God’s. My tomatoes and eggplants were plentiful and I enjoyed them immensely. They added to my limited supply of nutritious food. However, why the other seeds failed to grow was a mystery.

Jesus compares the Kingdom of God to that a farmer who sows seeds and then relaxes day and night. Later magnificent results occur and the farmer reaps the harvest. A mysterious process takes place and causes the seed to germinate, sprout and grow- although this process is hidden from the human eye. (Synthesis 6/16/91) God’s ways are not a human’s ways. We cannot see everything that God does or is doing. We can do a little and God will still do a lot.

What is the reign or dominion of God like? Jesus explains Mark’s gospel, that the Kingdom of God is not the result of human earnings, human creativity, or human striving. What is revealed to us is that the reality of God’s kingdom is a mystery that involves the creative nature of God.

This divine action is not brought about by human intervention or accomplishment. There is no need for me or anyone else to take credit for what causes one seed to grow or another not to grow. God’s boundless ways lie beyond the limited capacities of our human scope or comprehension.

The harvest in the Kingdom of God is linked to our growth. We are called and invited to reap the harvest given to us by the grace of God that feeds our spiritual growth and deepens our faith out of love. (Synthesis, June 16, 91). We are called to allow ourselves to ‘be grown’ by the Holy Spirit. We are called to be present and open for God so that we will be able to reap the harvest and blessings that God has ‘stored up’ and waiting for us.

God provides us with a hope and optimism for the present and the future. Consider this, a notice that appeared in the window of a coat store in Nottingham, England resonates with an enduring and optimistic spirit about what lies ahead.

We have been established over 100 years and have been pleasing and displeasing customers ever since. We have made money and lost money. We have had good payers and bad payers. We have been cussed and discussed, messed with, lied to, held up, robbed, and swindled. The only reason we survive in business is to see what happens next. It keeps us hoping. We’re optimistic! (sermon pulpit)

It has been said, that an optimist is one who has been captured by the Christian faith. An optimist is one who believes in Jesus’ promise of ultimate fulfillment in the present and advent of God’s kingdom. We are hopeful and optimistic at St.Margaret’s. Yesterday many of us participated in the DC Gay Pride Parade to support the inclusiveness and equality of God’s kingdom. Everyone is welcome in God’s Kingdom.

The harvest is growing and ripening at St. Margaret’s as we witness our Sunday School rolls increase with more and more children. Our seeds are rapidly spreading and yielding fruit as we support and sponsor nine persons for confirmation. reaffirmation, reception into the Episcopal Church at the Cathedral Church of St. Peter and St. Paul on next Saturday, June 20th.

We do not have to ask, ‘How is it that our harvest is bountiful? We know that this is the work of God’s divine action and that of the Holy Spirit in this church, in the Kingdom of Heaven. Amen.
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