“Your Heart’s Desire”

Posted By Beckie Sweet on Jun 16, 2024 | 0 comments

June 16, 2024 ~ 4th Sunday after Pentecost ~ Father’s Day

Rev. Beckie Sweet


Very early on in my ministry, more than 40 years ago, I preached on the Gospel Text about the mustard seed for the first time.  I was excited!  This is one of Jesus’ parables which is more concretely understandable to the subjective mind, like mine.  I was serving two churches at the time, and after the first service, I would greet folks before rushing off to the second service, just about nine miles down the road.  Then, the folks at the first service would split up into two Sunday School classes, one for children and one for adults and older youth.  The adult class would discuss the scripture passages and sermons for the day, often digging a little deeper into the historical context and other interpretations of the texts’ meaning.  I would occasionally get a call on Sunday evening or Monday from someone who was excited to tell me about their class discussions and discoveries.

But on the day that I preached about the mustard seed, the comments started early – in the greeting line.  One dour looking gentleman interrupted the conversation with the first folks in line to blurt out, “You must know that the mustard seed is not the smallest seed on earth, nor is its bush the largest!”  I don’t remember my response exactly, but while still in my early 20’s I retorted something to the effect that Jesus never claimed to be a botanist.  Jesus is the Child of God teaching lessons through common imagery with theological meaning.

So, lest we, too, get hung up on the details, what Jesus is saying is that the works of God through us, often start with small beginnings and grow to have a great impact on creation.  Starting with a small seed, we can end up with a large bush for shade and bird habitat.  The kin-dom of God on earth is like that, Jesus says.  God’s ways are not our ways!  We humans like to be in control of the big moments, the large gestures, the bright spotlights, the immediate results.  God, on the other hand, works quietly, often unseen and unnoticed, behind the scenes.

In that first, wonderful pastoral appointment, I inherited a few messes in and around the parsonage which were in need of cleaning.  One of those messes was a brush and trash heap behind the parsonage garage.  Sure, you would think that would be a great place to hide such a heap, except that behind that was the cemetery.  Every time folks were leaving the cemetery, that pile of brush and trash were right in front of them.  So, I started to clean it up.  And when I did, what was left in the yard, but a patch of raw dirt about the size of my car.  One of the very helpful Trustees brought me a magical bag containing a combination of grass seed, mulch, and fertilizer.  Since, at age 22 I had never planted grass seed before, I read the instructions and followed them to the letter.

I spread the magic substance onto the raw patch of dirt and watered it as directed.  Nothing happened.  And, since the weather had been very dry, I started to water it twice a day.  Still, nothing happened.  Then I needed to leave for Local Pastors Licensing School in New Jersey, where I would be learning the nuts and bolts of the practices of pastoring for the next 12 days.  While I was gone, I never thought about the bare patch of ground, and I finally got the smell of the wet mulch and fertilizer out of my nose.

When I returned home, the yard was overgrown (as no one had mowed it), but, that patch of ground had become a carpet of bright emerald green grass.  Isn’t that interesting.  When I worried and focused on that patch of ground, nothing happened.  When I left it alone and entrusted it to God’s care, the miracle of growth occurred.

God was trying to teach me that not everything flourishes when it is in my control.  Even when I don’t orchestrate a ministry or project, God can bring about amazing results.

Psalm 20 is a reminder of this in the form of a prayer of encouragement, fulfillment, and joy!  It’s like a prayer for blessing over each other.  “May God grant you your heart’s desire and fulfill all you plans.”  You may notice, that God is the active one here!  Within the Psalmist’s prayer is the plea that our heart’s desire would come from God, and would be granted by God.  The prayer seeks for each one’s plans for life to align with God’s plans for our lives, and that those plans would be fulfilled.  What a beautiful sentiment.  What a beautiful prayer.  Do folks hear us praying for them in such a beautiful and meaningful way?

For those of us who are not in the habit of offering prayers of encouragement for others in that way, we may need to start off in a small way.  Perhaps when Jami is offering the Prayers of the People today, and as we recite The Lord’s Prayer, we could mindfully pray for specific people and their circumstances in an encouraging way.  Even if things look gloomy and hopeless now, we may not foresee and anticipate the growth that God has in store for that individual and situation.  And, we all know people in need of prayers of encouragement, because so often lives look like a pile of brush and trash, or the bare, lifeless ground.  But God can see what a bag of magic mulch can do.  God’s creative energy is always working, whether we are paying attention or not!

The tiny mustard seek can grow into a large bush providing shelter for the birds, providing for the welfare of creation.  That is why we call this the KIN-DOM of God.  It is not about what will happen someday, but rather about how God would have us to be in relationship with God and others in the here and now.  Kingdoms, which are built by humans, are all about US.  We build walls and laws that protect us from the people who are not like us.  We build monuments to how amazing WE are.  We build armies to eliminate those who are not like us.

But God would have us to live with LOVE in our hearts, creating a heart’s desire that is aligned with God’s plans.  So that the prayer of our hearts may be one of encouragement, peace, and love.  Feel free to start off small, and allow God to bring growth into your life even when, especially when, you are not even noticing the change.  We are the seeds of God’s own choosing.  may we become the bush to shelter God’s beloved creation.  Amen.

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