One of my favourite times of year is Harvest. I usually have opportunities to take assemblies and acts of worship in the local schools – as I do presently – and one of the things I like to do is to show the children a pumpkin seed. ‘What do you need to make this grow?’ I ask them. Lots of hands enthusiastically shoot up, and the answers are shouted out: sun, soil and rain. A bit of dirt, a bit of water, some rays – and hey presto, in a few months a tiny seed multiplies a million times to become an enormous fruit.
Modern science is very good at explaining the ‘how’: but sometimes we just need to take a breath and marvel at a miracle. We can throw in some pesticides and whatnot, but for millions of years these dull little beige seeds have always known how to do it! All by themselves, they grow.
And that, says Jesus in today’s reading, is what the kingdom of God is like. The Word of God has power in itself: it grows, it multiplies, it changes lives and communities – all by itself (v28). Of course, we have to co-operate, as the parable of the sower makes clear: but ultimately this is God’s kingdom, and God is the One who makes things happen.
This God is also in the ‘harvesting’ business: these seeds don’t just grow for their own sake, but to produce a crop (v29). This is the harvest of changed lives: the fruit of renewed human beings whose seeds go on to change other lives. It’s a wonderful image of abundant life, and all the more important to grasp in our current culture. It is easy as followers of Jesus to feel ‘left behind’, in an isolated minority.
But that is not how God sees it. The kingdom is constantly at work; the Word still has the same inherent power, because the same God empowers it. And this kingdom work keeps on reproducing ‘all by itself’.
Today, let’s give thanks that, despite everything, God is still very much at work. And take a few moments to reflect: where do you see the kingdom particularly growing? Pray for that process to continue: that a bumper harvest might be the result.