Kenora Pentecost + 3 Trinity + 2 – Proper 11
13 June 2021
1 Samuel 15:34-16:13
2 Corinthians 5:6-10(11-13)14-17
Mighty God, to you belong the mysteries of the universe. You transform shepherds into kings, the smallest seeds into magnificent trees, and hardened hearts into loving one. May your life-giving Spirit re-create us in your image and shape us into your purposes, through Jesus Christ. Amen.
I was looking over the readings, for today, and, as always, my mind ponders a number of subjects.
Among them, this week, are the ongoing struggles to recognize the impact of intergenerational grief of the residential school system on the indigenous population. A level of grief that has been renewed with the discovery of the remains of the 215 on the grounds of the former residential school in Kamloops.
Then there is the recognition that intergenerational trauma affects many cultures and many nations as well, although this is a relatively new revelation on the human psyche.
This week I also pondered, or rather reeled, at the news of a domestic terrorism attack in London, ON, when an entire family was the intentional victim of a hit and run, solely because of their faith practices.
And then there was the idea that in general that we find a loss of belief in God, in the divine, that I am able to see reflected in the literature, and movies, and entertainment of the day to the point that, in June, Netflix still has a raft of romantic Christmas movies available to be seen.
Then I turned to the readings, for today, and found Jesus’ parables of growing seeds and a place for all peoples and cultures in one place, reflecting the kingdom of God. And I wonder if the idea of Canada as a tolerant multi-cultural nation, who cares for and about each other, is still out there, somewhere?
Today, Jesus tells us the parable of the mustard seed. He tells us of this the smallest of seeds, that when it grows, it becomes a bush so large that it’s able to provide homes for many different kinds of birds. (Mk 4:31-32)
The shrub isn’t the home of just the birds who look like each other.
It’s not the home to those who only hale from a specific migratory area.
There isn’t a shrub for this species of bird, and another shrub for that species of bird, lined up like suburbs or gated communities. Rather it’s one shrub and within it’s branches we find room for all of the wildlife, no matter their origin, their migration patterns, or their social habits.
So, from this one tiny, mote of a seed, we find the kingdom of heaven. We find inclusion, we find community, we find love, and we find each other.
Within this tiniest of seeds, we see exponential growth of our faith, our understanding of a world so loved by God that God sent Jesus into it to tell us these parables; and to plant these seeds in each of our hearts.
God sent Jesus to encourage the seeds to grow into shrubs that make room for absolutely everyone of every description in the world to be present, and to beloved in our hearts.
In such an image, in the kingdom of heaven, there isn’t room for racism, for terrorism, or for children to be lost.
In such an image, we find room for absolutely every one who wishes to roost there, and to combine their different plumages, and gifts and skills, to be the most beautiful expression of unity, and diversity, and of God’s love for all of creation.
I grew up with the idea that we live in a multi-cultural society, where everyone, no matter where they came from, no matter the ethnic differences, or differences in faith practices, that we are all welcome to call Canada home.
That we were all able to live our lives, together, and to respect each other.
I see today that such a grand idea had holes in it, but that doesn’t mean it’s a bad idea.
Rather it’s an idea that perhaps needs to be refocused in the idea that the smallest of seeds creates the greatest of shrubs, so that all the world can find a home in its branches.
Now, I know that my understanding of the world has grown and changed but the idea that we’re all living in a multi-cultural nation remains.
I know that this idea of multiculturalism has hit stumbling blocks over the years since it was first presented, especially when we think of our own way of life as being the only way to live, or that your aims for expansion, or prosperity disregard my life and my way to live.
But this train of thought seems to be gaining ground and it makes my heart hurt.
If we truly see the kingdom of heaven as the mustard seed then we have to realize that, as a seed, all of the kingdom is nothing more than potential, until it’s planted and is allowed to grow.
Until it’s lived out, it’s an idea that is still on the drawing board.
It’s not until we plant the seed, water it, and watch it grow does it become real.
It’s not until it puts out leaf and branch; it’s not until the birds arrive in the spring and begin to look for nest sites; its not until the eggs are laid in this the greatest of shrubs that we will realize that there is more than enough room for all, that no one is left out.
That no one is pushed aside, or told they need to conform, or to change, or to move, or anything else that certain members of the population decrees is good for society but in reality, only benefits a small group within the larger society.
The seed still exists.
God plants this tiny, infinitesimal seed in each of our lives, in each of our hearts, and God waits for it to begin to grow.
I remember reading an article of an archaeological dig that took place in Wisconsin, in 2015. In this dig, they unearthed a small clay pot that had been filled with 800-year-old squash seeds.
From there, the Canadian Mennonite university, in 2019 planted a couple of these seeds and they planted them.
And the seeds grew.
In one growing season, they revived a long extinct variety of squash.
These seeds, these promises, waited over 800 years to sprout, and to grow, and to fulfill the promise of feeding the world.
The seeds, planted by God, exist in each of our hearts, and just waits to be allowed to grow. They exist as the promise of God’s love, of God’s desire to share the kingdom of heaven with all of us who believe.
Will the seed in our hearts, like the mustard seed in today’s parable, provide a place for all nations to gather, as equals? No one being over or better than the other?
Will the seed in our hearts, like the previously extinct squash seed, have the capacity to feed the whole world?
Or will the seed in our hearts bring back what we thought had been lost forever?
We stand upon a precipice. Not just here in Canada with the issues of our day, but in the world.
There are many issues that have the ability to draw us together, to build a better world. We realize that there is still so much work ahead of us to come back to the idea that we’re all one nation, but come from many different nations, different cultures, different ethnicities, and different expressions of how to live our lives and at the same time to honour the traditions of the divine that we bring with us.
And in the light of such love, then are able to we take a step forward, together.
Together we have work ahead of us. Work to find a way to honour and to come together over the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s recommendations, and to live into them to overcome the errors of the past that seek to divide us instead of unite us across Canada.
And following that, with honesty and openness between all people, we will better understand how to be Canadians in Canada.
At the same time, we are able to remember that other cultures and other traditions live their lives in different ways but we’re all in the same shrub, and there is room for everyone within its branches.