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The Rev. Meredith Holt Crigler | Trinity Episcopal Church, Baytown

A Selection of Sermons:


Jun 13, 2021

Planting and replanting: Imagine with me: we are at the garden center to get what we want we plant a garden. What do you get? 

Do you go for the seed packets hanging on one end cap of an aisle within the football field size store? Most don’t, which is probably why that section takes up less than 2% of the area. 

Do you go for the trays with 12 or 8 seedlings to a section? You know the ones where one if you are not careful you’ll take home a tray with at last one missing seedling or a few that have seen rougher days. 

Do you step it up a bit and go for the four-to a pack seedlings that tend to look like they come with a bit less risk and a bit more promise? 

Or, do you plant with plants? It’s one plant to one pot and that plant is the best of the lot with the most green growth that seems to be thriving in the competition amongst its peers. You get the pot because you want a garden and why take on the risk and the mystery if you don’t have to. You know what you want, you know what you think is going to look good, so that’s what you are going to get. 

Or, do you take it one step further still… do you plant with the biggest and the best plants available at the garden center. Perhaps in your budget you can choose to throw however much money at the problem as it takes. Why go for the small pot, where there is a bigger plant with more growth and even some good-looking blooms right there and all you have to do is transplant it and viola instant garden that looks exactly as you would have it look with very little risk. 

How do you plant and replant? 

Left to my own unexamined human devices, if given the choice and the budget I tend to plant with the biggest and the best. And given the sales floor of the garden center, I know I am not alone. Why? It reduces the risk and the mystery of it all. It tends to allow me more control to make it all look good to my eyes faster.

I’m one of those ones with the beautiful pots of a certain size on our front porch that are just waiting to accept a beautiful and big and ready to go blooming plant each season. Pansies in the cold. Vincas in the summer. Mums in the fall. Poinsettias around Christmas. These plants are not even planted, they are just plopped into the place I have determined them to go and when they are not longer looking how I would want them to look or it is no longer their season, then they are plucked out and if they are lucky they head to my father’s green house to be live out their life in a place I do not see. 

With what can we compare the kingdom of man, or what parable should we use for it? It is like plopping plants into pots. The biggest and the best are on display for all the world to see on our front porches. And, when they grow less grand, or the planed period passes, or their form begins to reflect their wild hearts, they get displaced or discarded. 

Jesus said, “With what can we compare the kingdom of God, or what parable will we use for it? It is like a mustard seed, which, when sown upon the ground, is the smallest of all the seeds on earth; yet when it is sown it grows up and becomes the greatest of all shrubs, and puts forth large branches, so that the birds of the air can make nests in its shade.”

And though God’s planting method may not be popular at our human garden centers, God is the Master Gardener. God plants with mustard seeds. And here is the thing about mustard seeds. Not only are they small seeds, they also turn into mustard plants. In our eyes, mustard is a weed — a veracious unwanted bush that takes over fields and causes trouble. Not only are its seeds small, but it grows with wild abandon and in ways often with no help from the sower and often to the sower’s displeasure. Mustard will not be contained — not to porch pots— not to any place we might try to control. Mustard is tenacious. What’s more it is a home for the birds of the air-- the very undesirables the sower often wants to keep out of his or her fields. Mustard invites and nourishes and becomes a home for the very ones we humans would want to keep out. Mustard seeds become mustard plants…Beloved, this is the parable of the kingdom of God. Do you understand it? Can you imagine it?

I hope and I pray — for God’s sake, and for our own sake’s too— that we plant and replant the ministries and mission of our and our lives with mustard seeds. 

I hope and I pray that we let go of our nature to control the outcome with what looks good to our own eyes and invite God to be God. God sees the hidden, inner potential. God sees the seeds of our hearts and our ministries— no matter how minuscule they may be, with God, they are mustard seeds.

I hope and I pray that when these mustard seeds grow you will not see the growth as a weed to be plucked out but welcome the wildness of the kingdom of God and celebrate even the birds of the air as God’s beloveds.

I hope and I pray that as you look around, that you can release the disappointment that there are not plants to plop into pots, and come to recognize that spiritually speaking there are mustard seeds. I hope and pray that you not so distracted by the kingdom of man that you miss the kingdom of God here and now present before our very eyes. 

How do we plant and replant? Imagine with me: we are at the garden center to get what we want we plant a garden. What do get?

Do we go for mustard seeds?