2021-06-13 3rd Sunday after Pentecost
Grace, mercy and peace be to you from God our Father and our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.
A wise prophet once asked his followers, “When do miracles become invisible?” Someone answered ‘when we close our eyes,’ another said ‘when we choose not to see them.” The wise man said “No. Miracles become invisible when they become commonplace.” It’s a very profound statement! Miracles become invisible when they become commonplace. When those amazingly astonishing things happen in our midst so often, we cease to think of them as amazing. What do you think our ancestors would have thought if they could walk over to a sink, turn a handle or lift a lever and have hot water flow from a tap? It’d be miraculous wouldn’t it? No hauling the water in buckets, no heating it up in a kettle. Open the faucet and viola! Hot water! Or when it gets dark outside, just walk over and with the flick of a switch, tada! Light instantaneously fills the room. No running for candles or oil lamps. Miraculous! Or what if I wanted to send a message to someone half a world away? I’d have to write the letter by hand, find someone to carry it with them over the ocean in a boat and hope that it eventually made it to its intended recipient. Now, I grab my smart phone from my pocket and I can not only send a message, I can have face to face video correspondence with that person pretty much anywhere in the world. Miraculous! For us though, we look at the water tap, the light switch and the phone and think, meh! It’s commonplace. It’s everyday. Nothing to it. The miracle of it all has become invisible to us.
Our Gospel lesson touches on just this today. It’s all about the very miraculous ways of God’s kingdom. Yet for many of us today, it’s all become quite commonplace and hence, the miracles have become invisible to us. Take for instance this time of year. Seeding time is wrapping up either for farmers in the field or in our back yard garden. We take a hard, dead seed, put it in the ground and in a few short months we’ve got a harvested crop. It’s miraculous! But we take it for granted. We’ve seen it happen a zillion times over. It’s commonplace. Sure, scientists and agronomists can analyze and break down the chemical compounds needed for germination, but there is something else involved. There is a lot of power in a tiny seed. You could easily carry 100 zucchini seeds in your hand, but after they’ve been planted and grown, you’d have enough food to feed a whole town! And you’d have even more friends lining up for chocolate cake! Which is the only real reason God created Zucchini for anyways!
Jesus speaks of God’s Kingdom in this way. He talks about a man scattering seeds and beholding the miracle that comes forth. It reminds us of how the Word of God works in our lives. We are all by nature like a barren field, full of weeds. Not much good there until it is all cleaned up and planted fresh. The Word of God comes to us as we hear and listen to it (Rom 10:17). It cleans up our weeds, that is our sins and iniquities (John 15:3). It churns us up and makes ready the soil to be planted. The Word of God comes to us like a tiny seed, like a mustard seed even, the smallest of seeds that are sown into the earth. And look at what happens. “When it is sown it grows up and becomes larger than all the garden plants and puts out large branches, so that the birds of the air can make nests in its shade” (MK 4:32).
It’s miraculous! From the tiniest of seeds comes a huge plant that gives shade to the birds! It reminds us again of how amazing God’s kingdom is. It starts out in very humble means. From Jesus our Lord and a rag-tag group of fishermen and social delinquents comes a faith so huge that it spreads throughout the Roman Empire and beyond. Some 2000 years later, it is still growing strong on every continent in the world. On the outset, God’s work looks so insignificant. No celebrities, just common people, gathered around seemingly ordinary stuff. A book. Water. Bread. Wine. And yet for those who see, they are exceedingly miraculous things! These miraculous things unite us to the ever-miraculous cross of Christ that gives life and salvation to all who believe that Christ is risen! These miracles are for the long haul. God’s Kingdom doesn’t show up overnight. It takes time to grow and mature through adversity and difficult times – but when it is fully formed it will be even greater than expected!
It’s miraculous! But has it become invisible to us? This is the challenge friends. Ask yourself, has the sacredness of the Lord’s Day been lost? Has it just become another day like any other in the week to fill with endless activities? Or the Scriptures, has the Word of God become just a blip on our radar? We read it for 2-4 minutes on a Sunday morning, but what about the rest of the week? Has the miracle of Holy Baptism become just an empty ritual for us? It truly is the doorway of salvation, the way we enter more fully into God’s Divine life. Yet many approach it to “get the kids done” without any thought given to bringing the children up in the church. “Baptism now saves you” writes St. Peter – but he could never imagine Baptized Christians who never come to church again, separated and cutoff from the life of the Church! Or what about the Medicine of Immortality, the miracle of sins forgiven and God’s healing power present in our Lord’s true Body and Blood in, with and under the bread and wine of Holy Communion. Has that miracle also become ho-hum to us? Have we lost sight of how amazing and miraculous the Word of God and His Sacraments are for us? They’ve become commonplace and largely invisible to us.
Many years back we took our kids to the Wa-Wa Shrine Circus in Estevan when they were knee high to a grasshopper. It was so new and exciting for them! They loved seeing the elephants and the clowns and the acrobats. They stared in wide eyed wonderment as the ponies trotted around the ring and people sold brightly coloured cotton candy and flashing toys all around us. They were caught up in the giant ripoff …er, the wonderment and excitement of it all! The more I think of it, we ought to become like wide eyed little kids again when it comes to our faith. When the little gaffers experience something new they can’t believe their eyes. They love it! They think it’s so exciting and amazing. The miraculous is firmly set before their eyes! As such, so should our faith always be child-like. To this end our Lord Jesus says “Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven” (MT 18:3). The amazing wonders of our Christian Faith should always be new to us, always be exciting and fresh even though we know them by heart.
And this is the challenge to us, is it not? Our culture all around us convinces us we should have new things all the time. New toys. New TVs. New phones. New vehicles. New houses. New spouses! Why do you think divorce rates are as high as they are? Largely it’s because we are addicted to the “feeling of new.” But I would argue there is always something new and exciting to be found in the commonplace if we let the wide eyed wonderment take root in our lives. It’s like an old movie you’ve seen time after time, but you can always find something you’ve missed. When we look again into our faith, we see the miraculous. We see the amazing wonderment of sins forgiven week after week at our Lord’s Table. We see the miraculous in that God has made us His people in our Baptism. We see the fingerprints of God in our natural world all around us. The tiny seeds of faith that are planted grow up tall and strong. Our eyes are opened again to the amazing and miraculous all around us. And the greatest miracle of all, that God has become man and dwelt among us reminds us that our Savior is always with us giving us His power, peace and joy. Thanks be to God now and forever more! Amen.