Monday, June 18, 2012

Small and Insignificant

You never know.
You never know when the kingdom of God is going to sneak up on you.
It is always something hidden, just out of our ability to see and understand.
It comes in small things, but always produces big surprising results.
This is what the parable about the mustard seed is about.
It is about the kingdom coming in something so small and insignificant that we often miss it.
But once sown it is about everything.
It grows so big that it brings shade to all who want to lie under its branches.
It brings protection and lets us know that we are home.

Every other week I get a visit from a man named Harry.
Howard has some special needs.
He comes with his Lutheran Social Services worker.
Every two weeks we sit and talk about life and God.
Harry is very special to me.
When I see Harry I see in him the kingdom of God.
I see someone who cares about others, and who wants to know more about God.
But to the world he is nothing special.
He isn’t rich, famous, or powerful.
In fact some might even believe that he is of no use.
Some might view him as a drain on the economic system.
This week was one of the weeks Harry came to see me.
And his aid worker said, “Tell Pastor Jon what you said about God earlier.”
Harry said, “God is great.”
Now I thought he was going to talk about how God was great because of the nice weather we were having, or how good his father is doing as proof of God’s greatness.
But he said, “God is great because he forgives us.”
That was right on the nose.
Yet most of us when we think of God’s greatness we think of miracles, or how God has given us health and wealth.
We thank God for our families, for our lives, for all things.
But the kingdom of God comes in small things.
It is something simple and wonderful like forgiveness.

It is in things that we might throw off as insignificant and unimportant.
Like fatherhood.
I can say that part of my spiritual journey has been to find the wonder and workings of God in my calling as a father.
I like most people had grand ideas of what I would do with my life.
Maybe I would lead a revolution, or convert the most hardened of hearts.
I wanted to be and do something great.
My journey has led me to see those great things in being a father.
It is not always glamorous work.
But it is in waking up at two in the morning to change the sheets of your child who wet the bed, and then consoling them because they are upset about it.
That is where we find the kingdom of God.
It is in the moments of self sacrifice in moments of real grace.
I am sure that all the fathers here this morning had some moments in their lives when they did something they never thought they would do for the benefit of their kids.
That is the beauty of being a dad.

I noticed this in my father.
Who always went out of his way for us kids.
When I was in college he worked two jobs to make ends meet.
And yet, when he came to visit he would always slip me some money for beer.
In fact, one time he drove me to school.
It was unusual because my mom usually came, but for some reason she couldn’t make it.
Now if my mom came she would always make my bed and put away my clothes.
My dad, he made sure that my fridge was stocked with beer.
It is a little thing, and maybe even a silly one…but it was a moment I will always treasure.
Seems like something so insignificant.
And at the time I don’t know if I thought too much about.
But now that he is gone it is a moment that I cherish.
It was something small that meant a lot.
I could sit in the shade of it.
It made me feel at home.
This is the kingdom of God.
It is something that is small when we sow it, but it grows into something so much more.

It fits with what we know about Jesus.
Jesus was a man of little significance.
He was not rich or worth mentioning.
But because of his life, the way he gave to people, the way he followed God, Jesus own life was planted into the minds and hearts of those who knew him.
And what he left behind grew to something greater than the sum of the parts.
Today we gather to remember his life, to hear his words, and to eat and drink his body and blood.
And in doing we live in the shelter of the tree that grew out of the small seeds that he has sown in our hearts, gives us shade, and makes us feel at home.

One other thing about the parables we heard this morning.
And that is that this kingdom is not something we control.
I am wondering how many of you like to be in control.
(I won’t ask you to raise your hands)
But I know that I do.
God knows this about us.
And so God created a world out of control.
God created a world where things happen in a random order.
Mathematicians call it “Chaos theory”.
I wish I could explain it to you, but I am horrible at math.
But basically it is the unpredictability in complex systems.
We all have experienced and seen this in life.
Why does the really nice guy who never talked bad about people get the horrible non-curable cancer and die too young?
Why did the person who was never late a day in their life all of a sudden over sleep on September 11th and survive because they were not at work that day?
The older I get the more random and unpredictable life becomes.
But you see I think God made it that way.
Because we want to control things so much God made this life basically uncontrollable.
And the only thing that we are left with is faith and trust.
We have to trust God because otherwise things just don’t make sense.
We have to have faith that the kingdom is coming regardless of what we do.
This is the parable of the sower.
The sower sows, but does not water or weed, but merely sleeps.
And while the sower sleeps God produces fruit.
God brings the kingdom.
It is not ours to control, or to do.
Merely to have faith and trust that God knows what God is doing.
To trust that all the random chaos has a purpose and is leading to something beyond our expectations.

My grandmother turned 93 this week.
I went to have lunch with her and my mother.
She was talking about miracles.
And she said to me, “Thank God for all the miracles we see, and the millions of miracles that God does that we don’t see.”
My grandmother has a great and wonderful faith.
She was witnessing to it that day.
May we all be able to see with eyes of faith that helps us see God amidst the chaos.

The kingdom is hidden and beyond our control.
But to be able to live in faith, to be able to see glimpses of it invites us to plant God in our hearts.
It means to give our lives to God so that we might live in the shade of forgiveness, love, mercy, and acceptance.
All things that seem so small and insignificant, but that once are grown mean everything.

So as you go into your week may you live in under the shade of God’s love.
May you open your hearts to allow God to plant the smallest of seeds in your life, so that you might be able to see the kingdom of God all around you.  Amen

No comments:

Post a Comment