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July 26, 2020
Eighth Sunday after Pentecost
Matthew 13:31-33, 44-52
It’s tempting to skim through these lessons and draw out a common moral. Something like: From even the smallest of wonders, can come the greatest miracles. Martin Luther King, Jr. said something similar, …if I cannot do great things, I can do small things in a great way.
Those are magnificent lessons to live by, but I have to believe that the Gospel has something more to offer us. At the end of the day, this Gospel according to smallness can land us in a very works-righteous place where we can easily be lured into thinking that the small things we do are scoring points with the Holy One.
Jesus pushes us to see more. To see there is profound inter-connections in God’s world, even when we do not see or appreciate them. A tiny seed morphs into a tree and is no longer simply an uncommon addition to spice up your menu, but a home for birds and shade for weary travelers. A bit of yeast, all but invisible is what makes bread, well, bread. Somebody stowed something in a field. To them, it might even have been trash. But to another who found it, this small thing was worth the world. Tasty fish swim right along with those that are not-so-commercially valued. And they get caught up in the same nets. Everything is connected. Everything has a purpose. It’s not just about doing small great things. It’s about seeing them. And our world is so much richer, so much more alive when we see, when we truly SEE that all things are connected.
Today’s assigned reading from Paul in Romans, the 8th chapter, the 28th verse, reminds us of this. All things work together for good for those who love God, who are called according to God’s purpose. All things. All things are connected. Romans 8:28 is my confirmation verse, a verse assigned to me by a wise and compassionate pastor who, even though he knew my father was dying, wanted to instill in me this profound and life-giving truth of the interconnection of all things. Pastor Horn wanted me to see with the eyes of our loving Creator. No matter what was to come, God’s connection to me and my family was solid.
It’s heartening to me, in these days of heightened awareness about our need to be reconciled with those who are not like us that we’re learning that one of the most significant things we can say to one another is, I SEE YOU. I see you. We are connected. You are in my sights. Seeing you is the beginning of recognizing you, and your gifts, and the ways in which your life can enrich mine. You are precious, and wonderful, and complex.
In the lump of dough, Christ calls us to see leaven. In the mighty spread of the shrub’s growing branches, Christ calls us to see a tiny seed. In the expanse of a farmer’s field, Christ calls us to see that where we might see weeds another sees wheat, a treasure to him that is worth all her or his other possessions combined.
It’s in seeing those things that we begin to see the wonder, the power, the complexity and the GIFT of the Gospel of Christ. From this one life… From this one life lived in selfless, profound love… From this one gift given, unconditionally, all the way to the death of the cross… From the endless store of compassion that our God has for us, even the smallest detail of our lives is never taken for granted. We are seen. We are eternally, powerfully loved. We are cherished like a pearl of great price. And so cherished and precious are we that God gave it all – all! – to have us back. But not just one of us. Not just some of us. God has brought back to God’s eternal self the pearl of all humanity, the treasure of all creation: renewing, restoring, reviving us all with the breath of resurrection life. In God, we are all connected. Seen.
In the miracle of a seed growing into maturity, in the wonder of yeast urging dough to rise, in the wisdom of fisher folk sorting through the good and the bad… In all these things, Jesus points us to the greatest wonder of all, to a love that will not let us go. To a God determined to have us know, all things work together for good for those who love God, who are called according to God’s purpose. What a pearl. What a seed. What a treasure. Thanks be to God.
In the name of the Father and of the (+) Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.