Reading Sunday’s upcoming gospel lesson, I wonder, what if the pastor, the preacher is the mustard seed. She is the weed in the garden of pristine Christian lives. Her roots flow to places and people and events we don’t really (want to) include in our garden. What if, unbidden her seeds, her words on behalf of one she tries to follow, take wind and land in soil we don’t really want to produce our fruits in the community. They are not us. They are not like us. They don’t fit in our landscape.
How do we as a congregation learn to live with such a weed in our midst? Well, we can tolerate, for a while, her challenges to our coiffed appearances and we can allow her buds, for awhile, because they are somewhat pretty when they are in bloom. When the youth respond and attend and lead worship for us, those blooms are exceptional! When the bells play and she leads so well that the worship is enhanced by those blooms, well, that is a blessing to us. And when the council is filled, the toilet paper is full, the fund raisers have enough pies and servers, that is a gift from God, through this blooming weed…Thanks be to God! So maybe it’s ok for her to preach and speak and do on behalf of the congregation. We do pay her enough!
But eventually, all weeds must rest their blooming, their roots continue to explore and their seediness expands to new horizons…but we, we in the garden that is so pretty and defined and, quite frankly, weedless, except for her, we grow weary of the challenge of not embracing the hybrids that her roots challenge us to become. To transform and live into that weediness is, perhaps, too much for us. Maybe some of those other flowers she’s trying to bring in can handle being transplanted and transformed, grafted, I suppose, into our garden. But not in our part of the plot, not in our spaces and our well tended and well known soil. We fertizlied several years ago so we know that we’re fine for a long time to come. New plants would leach our soil, would challenge our sun and our water allocations. So if they dig up a new plot, they’re welcome; just don’t mess with our positions. We’re fine. Except for the roots she’s spreading and the tendrils that are filling in the gaps. They come from a weed! a plant we aren’t certain we like the produce of and something of which we are not akin.
We could, it seems, go out and look for our own plants to bring in, but selling our plot to purchase even the most bounteous and beautiful of those others? That is too much. We’re fine, being complacent in our understanding and our groundedness. We’re fine not seeking that pearl and looking within our selves to find the good fish and the bad fish, determining which buds to nurture and which to pluck out. We’re good, just like we are.
But that pastor, OH! She is something else! We are the church, afterall, and to believe that God’s kingdom, God’s Word is not fully developed in us? I told her that I didn’t need more spiritual learning, that it would cause problems in my marriage and in my work, to live more fully as God calls me. I’m not even sure what that would mean for me. I have been a Lutheran, a Christian, all my life, so naturally, I live as God wills. How else would I be living?
I do like her, don’t get me wrong! But, well, she’s so different, such a weed amid we flowers. She’s everyday and foreign and we, well, we’ve been here forever so we’re native and somewhat acclimatized, we’re special, I guess you could say. to be aware of her so constantly, to carry the seeds of her differences into our daily lives, that creates in me an awareness I’m just not ready to embrace.
Yeah, what if the pastor is the weed? Spreading roots and tendrils in unseen and unwanted paths, opening ground where it’s always been closed and covered with rocks and perfectly fine grass. What if she’s sending out seeds to people who just might want to join our garden? How is that the kingdom of God?