Readings for June 14, 2015. Ezekiel 17:22-24, Psalm 92, 2 Cor. 5:6-17, Mark 4:26-34
My garden looks amazing right now. The green onions are huge, the tomatoes are flowering, the poppies waving their bright petals in the sun. One month ago there was nothing but dust and dandelions. 3 months ago the land was still covered in snow and ice. Now it is green, white, yellow, purple, and orange. My salad bowl sings! Sure, I put seeds in the ground and tossed water at them, but the mystery of this beautiful profusion is beyond me.
These scriptures are about the mystery of life and the celebration of the power of the Creator. The parable of the growing seed in Mark notes the mystery. The sower of seed has an important, but very limited, role. God makes things happen. This is a reminder of both the importance of our human efforts and the fact that the results are out of our hands.
Ezekiel is a powerful example of the mystery of growth. In verses 22-24, the community grows and thrives because God has planted it. The point of this, however, is lost unless you read the earlier parts of chapter 17. Here are two eagles, representing foreign emperors, with whom Israels kings are aligning. (Ezekiel is likely writing to try to change king Zedekiah's mind about his policy of aligning with Egypt.) Even though the shoots are planted in great, watered soil, they are destined for trouble and failure because they are relying on human power and not God. Verses 22-24 show the ideal, that humanity must rely on God because people fail.
This morning on CBC radio, there was talk about the firing of Evan Solomon, the host of "Power and Politics" and the "House". I am saddened by this, I liked listening to him and it's hard to hear that he may have used his connections to powerful people inappropriately. The talk this morning was about how power tends to corrupt even the best of people. The Edmonton Journal had an article that talked about the "host" culture at the CBC that protects the powerful when they misbehave or act contrary to good journalistic ethics. All of this is humbling, and should point us toward better lines of accountability for people in positions of power, fame, or authority. It should also warn each of us to consider where we place our trust. Even good people fail. We are not God and it's important to remember that and constructively hold each other to account so we don't create situations where we protect misbehaviour and bend standards to fit what feels comfortable or expedient or makes money.
The words in 2 Corinthians 5:17 are encouraging. "So if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation; everything old has passed away; see, everything has become new! All this is from God , who reconciled us to himself through Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation..."
That ministry is a tall order. I wonder if humanity is up to it. I wonder if anyone I know is up to it. I wonder if I am up to it. Maybe the answer is that we are not. We are not up to it if we rely on our own limited and corruptible power. Maybe we are up to it when we rely on God and align ourselves with what God is doing. God grows amazing things. I don't have to completely understand how it works. Maybe I am capable, and it is enough, to toss a few seeds and water out there and see what God does.