We seem to be swimming in bad news lately. Antarctic ice melting at triple its previous rate, 100 wedge tailed eagles intentionally poisoned, more and more animals added to the list of endangered species, thousand year old baobab trees suddenly dying, a housing crisis no one seems to want to address, women and children murdered in their homes and on the streets, a dying refugee on Nauru refused palliative care in Australia, tax cuts for the wealthy while low income earners battle on. Every which way I turn there is a story to break my heart, and I admit I often feel quite distressed.
In the midst of all this, I started preparing this week’s children’s talk. I wanted to turn the passage over in my mind, so I read it quickly and got to thinking… as it turns out I read the passage too quickly and muddled a few of Jesus’ parables together and came up with something that is perhaps not exactly what Jesus originally intended. But it was just what I needed.
The passages I mistakenly mashed together were about candles in the dark (don’t hide those lights!) and seeds thrown on a field and somehow (without the farmer understanding it) sprouting and growing. I grabbed the dark and the seed, put them together and ran with it.
Imagine, if you will, a seed buried in the earth. It’s dark, damp, squashy and kind of miserable – I would not want to be that seed. And yet in that dark place, life sparks. It breaks through the hard shell of the seed and pushes its way to the surface. What a miracle!
If life can miraculously grow in the dark earth, where else might it grow? In dark hearts? Surely God can spark life in hearts sprinkled with seeds of love and goodness. And what of our dark world – all those miserable things happening right now? Jesus promises that God’s life and goodness is like a seed that grows, even in a world full of darkness. Like the farmer, I cannot understand it, but I believe it.
It’s a bit crazy, jumbling passages and taking liberties with Jesus’ parables, but I am grateful for my mistake. Through it, God whispered hope into my ear and breathed life into my heart. Yes, there are a lot of distressing things happening in the world. And yes, God brings life even here.