Reflection: March 24: As the Seeds are Meant for Growing

Reflection March 24, 2019

Isaiah 55:1-11/ Luke 13:6-9

As the Seeds are Meant for Growing…

I’m not sure if you remember this day, but one Sunday, for the story time, I brought a tiny pot with a bean planted and watered. That day, I said to the children, “Let’s see how this bean grows!” I didn’t do a follow-up because that bean was a dud; nothing happened. It didn’t grow into anything. I thought of what I could have done to help it grow, and there may or may not have been a way. Correct me if I’m wrong because I’m not much of a gardener, but I think some seeds are just not meant to survive and grow. I want to ask those of you who are master gardeners; was there something I could have done to help the bean grow?

Today’s scripture readings are full of farming and gardening metaphors. Today’s Isaiah and Luke passages teach us that our relationships both with God and with each other are like growing plants or crops. First, Isaiah 55 talks of God’s vision of equality and justice and God’s expectation for God’s people to yield the fruit of justice according to God’s will. God’s kingdom is where those with no money can come and be fed; this is the beginning part of the chapter about God’s vision of a just society. Now, listen to verses 10 and 11; “ For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return there until they have watered the earth, making it bring forth and sprout, giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater, so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and succeed in the thing for which I sent it.” If we have heard God’s words, we are expected to live by them and work towards bringing God’s justice to the world. The positive changes we make in the world are the fruit we are expected to produce. 

In the Parable of the Barren Fig Tree, we meet a gardener pleading with the owner of the vineyard to let him give his barren tree another chance. He will take extra care to help the tree produce fruit before the owner decides to cut it down. There is something we don’t know while reading this parable, but this parable came out of the context of some people asking if the Galileans who were killed by Pilate were worse sinners than those who didn’t get killed. We often ask this question, don’t we? “Why do bad things happen to certain people?” I remember, whenever a big natural disaster hits a region and a lot of people die or get displaced, somewhere someone claims that it was God’s judgement. Anyway, Jesus telling this parable came from a context where people wondered if the victims of Pilate’s massacre were punished for being bigger sinners than those who survived. 

That was the context of today’s parable. Now, moving away from the tragedy talk, let us think about privilege and those with privileges in our world. Why do some people have more privilege than others? Why do some people suffer more than others? Why are some people more marginalized than others? Is it because they are more or less worthy than other? According to the story Jesus tells today, “No.” More fragile trees receive more care. Maybe this is to teach us that having more privilege means having to do more and produce more fruit than those who don’t have the same privilege. Let us listen to James 3:1 that says those who teach will be judged with greater strictness. It means those with more privilege have more responsibilities, and since they have more responsibilities, they are expected to do more and better than others. If we have received more from God than others, it means God is giving us more responsibilities. 

Starting from this Lent, and throughout our lives, let us grow and become strong and healthy trees that produce a lot of good fruit. Let us grow in our faith and turn into faithful disciples who live by the teachings of Jesus. We are called to grow in faith and be the hands and feet for Christ in the world. Later, we will sing the hymn “As a Fire Is Meant for Burning”. It says, “As a fire is meant for burning with a bright and warming flame, so the church is meant for mission, giving glory to God’s name.” As the seeds are meant to grow into trees and fruit, we Christians are meant to grow in faith and become the embodiment of Christ so that our Christian lives can give glory to God’s name by bringing God’s love and justice here on earth. God gave us the responsibility to bring the reign of God here on earth. This Lent, let us focus on growing in God’s Spirit to produce the fruit of God’s reign of love, humility and justice for the all people. 

Rev. Sunny Kim

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