by David R. Brock
Jesus was walking around Bethlehem this past week, trying to find the cave or the stable where he was born. An old man recognized him. Jesus asked him not to tell anyone, but then they talked awhile. The old man said, “This dream of yours isn’t working out so well, Jesus. I tried it for a lot of years, but given all that has gone on in this country and right here in my hometown, your hometown, I’m giving up. I’d suggest you do so as well.”
Jesus looked into the weathered face of the old man and said, “Right now, over near Megiddo, a grain of wheat is dying. In a few months it will produce a hundred grains. Those will be harvested and eventually ground into flour and made into bread that might end up on your table. Right now your wife is caring for your grandchild with Down’s Syndrome. She is patiently encouraging him for the 100th time to tie his shoes. He’s about to get it. She thought about giving up several times, but love kept her going and I think tomorrow he’ll be able to tie his shoes. You’ll hear about it with all the enthusiasm of a scientist who just discovered a cure for cancer and he’ll have you watch him over and over. Right now there are citizens groups and religious leaders finding ways to keep relationships of trust alive here in Bethlehem. I’m not giving up.”
Jesus was in the foyer of the church after the first service of advent last Sunday. I can’t remember if it was in my congregation or in yours. Somebody said brother and sister so and so (Barnes, or Gonzalez, or Johnson, I’m not remembering very well here) didn’t come to church anymore because they didn’t get much out of it and that we talked a good talk but they didn’t see much relevance between what we did and what the real world was all about.
Jesus said he felt the same way sometimes. He said he was sad that we weren’t always careful about preparing the soil of our souls, about tending to all those things that grow a person and a community. He was sad that we weren’t wise enough to realize that it takes time; it takes a generation and a community.
But he also said that he was coming back this Sunday. He said, “We plant when we don’t know what will happen. We plant even when we don’t know if there will be a harvest.” Jesus said, “I believe there will be a harvest of peace. Seeds lie in fallow ground waiting for the right moment, the right conditions. People are tending, training, giving, and there are fields ready for harvest.” Jesus said, “I believe in the harvest. In fact, as long as the God seed of possibility is among us, I will trust all to God. I will be the grain of wheat that dies. I will be the bread of life”.
Maybe this season we are John the Baptist, preparing the way for the Christ in the life of others. Maybe this season we can give of ourselves, releasing some deeply hidden seed of hope we’ve been carrying so it can flourish to unbelievable proportions in our lives, or the lives around us.
It is not that we will make the crooked paths straight and the mountains low. That is the work of God. But we can nurture the seeds of God within us, we can spread God’s word and God’s peace.
Speak Peace this season.
Spiritual Practice: Hold the image of the seed in your heart. What does it mean in your life to plant what you don’t know will happen? What does it look like to trust the “God seed of possibility among us?” Is there a deeply hidden seed of hope within you?