ecclesia: church at the chip
a community of faith, love and hope


Seeds and Sprouts

Seeds and Sprouts
Mark 4:21-34
Daily Office: March 1

“The seed sprouts and grows; he knows not how.”

If you’ve ever spent time in the country, you know the feeling. You watch the farmer plant seeds in the spring. You drive past the field every day, wondering when it will sprout.

At first, all you see are hundreds of rows of barren dirt. Suddenly, the long rows are dotted with green. Perhaps it is soybeans; maybe it is corn. But there it is. It wasn’t there yesterday, but it is today, as if by magic.

We know it’s not magic. But it seems like it, doesn’t it? Yesterday there was nothing; today there is something. It’s almost like a miracle. This is what the kingdom of God is like, Jesus tells us. As if by magic, it grows out of nothing.

When I read this text, I can’t help but think about Church at the Chip. It’s a story we’ve often told: How it was not so much an act of faith as an act of desperation when we first decided to invite people to join us in this crazy Cave Creek church adventure.

Almost despite ourselves (no money, few people, and small [mustard seed?] faith), people began to show up. Nobody was more surprised than us. Somehow, the seed sprouted and grew; we know not how.

Well, in truth, we do know how, at least in part. That’s what makes it such a beautiful story. There was no clever marketing plan, no grand vision; just a handful of people who stumbled into the story God wanted to write here in a Cave Creek saloon. To borrow from something the Apostle Paul wrote, we may have planted and watered, but it was God who gave the increase.

A tomato seed becomes a tomato plant because the life of the tomato is inside its husk. Church at the Chip grew because there is life in the seed (the Word which proclaims God’s kingdom), and it was planted in a place God wanted it to grow. By God’s grace, we were simply at the right place at the time, and willing to step out in fear and trembling.

To one degree or another, you have become a part of the story God is writing here in Cave Creek. Perhaps you entered with as much fear and trembling as we did. Perhaps you were bruised and broken. Perhaps the husk around your heart was hard and brittle. Perhaps it still is. Who knows?

Whatever it was that brought you here, somehow you got planted in this place and, as if by magic, the kingdom of God is growing in your heart, and through you into our beloved community. Thank you for being part of our story.

Only, again, it’s not really magic, right? They knew perfectly well how seeds become plants. Jesus said it himself in John 12:24: “Unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.”

In order to bear fruit, the seed must be planted in the ground. The outer husk must die before the life within can break out. In a few days, where once there was only death, now there is life.

The allusion to Jesus’ impending death and resurrection is clear: he will be buried in the ground, but his death will be the beginning of new life. What seems like the end will actually be the beginning.

As we continue our Lenten trek with Jesus, we are mindful that, while it involved unspeakable suffering and death, its ultimate purpose was life and fruitfulness. We dare not minimize its horror; after all, it was our collective sin that put him there. But our overwhelming sadness dissolves into resounding joy, for we know that Jesus voluntarily chose this path to bring new life to our broken world and, alas, to us, too. It wasn’t magic at all. It was love.

Amazing love! How can it be
That thou, my God, shouldst die for me?

Daily Office for March 1
Psalm 70
Genesis 42:29-38
1 Corinthians 6:12-20
Mark 4:21-34