Jesus’ parables in this section focus on the hiddenness of the kingdom. It grows like tiny seeds that when planted in the ground grow up into great plants in which the birds of the air shade themselves. It grows like seeds which grow unseen beneath the earth, sprout up, and grow to be ready to harvest through the ongoing cycle of life. It is made visible through what is within us that, like a lamp, we may be tempted to hide under a barrel.
These parables invite me to consider how easy it is to overlook the working of God around me. It is easy in our culture to rush ahead to the next task whether at work, at home, at school with blinders on. I may not see the people around me and their needs. I may not see what is happening even in my own heart. I can overlook the whispered wooing of the Spirit within me. I can overlook the struggles toward new birth all about me. This text calls me to slow down and see. To see myself as I really am, to listen to that voice within. To see others for how they are, to really look at their lives and hear their stories. To not just push through overlooking what is not screaming above the din of my busyness for attention. Helping the invisible become visible and the unconscious conscious is a part of the work I have if I want to participate with the Spirit’s work in all things. She is like a woman working to give birth and our work is to be like midwifes, partnering with the Spirit as new life breaks forth in our lives, communities, and others.
I also am called to not be afraid of letting myself, as I truly am, shine. So often we hide our true selves, afraid of vulnerability and exposure to a world that constantly tries to push us into pre-made molds. Yet that true self is the light which, when cultivated by the Spirit, can shine if you don’t put it under a bushel-basket. It can light the way for others to find their life’s passion, calling, and healing.
I am reminded of the words of Christian author Marianne Williamson: ““Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that frightens us most. We ask ourselves, ‘Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, and famous?’ Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that people won’t feel insecure around you. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in all of us. And when we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”
A final lesson these parables teach me is to be patient. I can become frustrated that I am not yet where I want to be, whether in my personal life or in my career, in work for social justice. Yet change happens over time, it grows and evolves like plants. I can help this process, cooperating with the Spirit who breathes the life, freedom, healing, and comfort into all things. Yet ultimately any process takes time. You cannot raise a crop in a moment. Life comes in its time, and so does change.
I’m called by this text to focus on this moment, to embrace its gift, lest I miss the hidden presence of God creeping right outside my vision, underneath the obvious. In it are gifts, lessons, blessings, which will help me get to my destination but only after some journey. Focusing on my destination so much can cause me to lose the joy and lessons in the moment.
Let’s open our eyes to the light all around us and within us.
And I’m not whistling Dixie,
Your progressive redneck preacher