My Grandmother was born in the late 19th century and died at the age of 90 in 1985. Near the end of her life I remember hearing her reflect on the technological advances she had seen in her lifetime. She marveled at the move from a horse and buggy world to a world where we successfully went to the moon and back. I had just finished the sixth grade when the Apollo 11 lunar landing module Eagle set down on the moon and Neil Armstrong took that “giant leap for mankind.” So as a child of the space age, when I think about what advances in technology I will be reflecting on with my grandchildren (if I have grandchildren…. that’s not really up to me), I don’t think as much about our accomplishments of moving farther out into space as I think about our move deeper into the interior of the molecular universe.
As a kid my favorite movie was a science fiction thriller called the “Fantastic Voyage.” It told the story of a medical crew and their high tech submarine being shrunk to the size where they were injected into the blood stream of a patient and sent on a medical mission to take care of a malady that was inoperable. They had to risk things like being crushed by a heart valve and fending off anti-bodies that sought to destroy them. When we made our annual trip to Disneyland I would ride the “Adventure through Inner Space” sponsored by the Monsanto corporation. It was supposed to simulate the experience of being reduced to a size smaller than an atom so that we could travel inside of molecular spaces. As a college student at UCLA in the late 70’s I daily walked past the Molecular Biology Institute. Now as an adult, I have seen the mapping of the human genome, the development of designerT-cells that can fight cancer and I can probably look forward to discoveries in this “inner space” that I cannot even begin to imagine.
My point in mentioning all of this is to note that in the smallest of places there is a space as expansive as the cosmos. The smallest of places is actually enormous and filled with a creative potential that seems beyond comprehension. And this reminds me of what Jesus says about the Kingdom of God being like a mustard seed.
We know today why a seed is packed with so much potential. In the genetic code that it carries it holds a treasure that sustains life. Its apparent insignificance masks its power to reproduce itself and thus many more seeds like it. In Jesus’ day, it was the smallest unit he could use to make his point, which in essence was to say: “Don’t be fooled by the apparent insignificance of this little kernel. It is much more than food for one bird, it is actually the source of life. There is more significance in this insignificant seed than you can ever imagine and if you don’t believe me just stick it in the ground and see what happens.”
A great deal of what the faith journey is about is the risk of trusting seemingly insignificant acts of kindness and love to produce big results. Making these small contributions is like planting seeds. It sows life into places that seem dormant or dead. It plants hope in places where there has been nothing but despair. It’s what makes the wilderness bloom and create an explosion of life and color.
In my sermons this fall I’d like to explore some of what the Bible says about seeds. As we unpack this metaphor, what we see is a consistent Divine invitation to take those small and seemingly insignificant steps to sow life and hope in places that are lost in despair and darkness. When we put those kernels of hope in the ground we can never be assured that they will change anything. In fact, it almost feels like we are throwing them away. But there is more going on than meets the eye and it’s only by taking the risk of sowing those seeds that we will experience the joy of being participants in the big, big work of God.
Dave Rohrer, 9/1/2016