Dave and I spent part of November in Aiea where our son’s garden yielded a crunchy, foot-long cucumber for our Thanksgiving feast. This good looking head of broccoli will be in this week’s harvest. Farmer Bryan’s produce took my thinking toward seeds, growth, and Advent.
The mention of seeds first appears in Genesis when God says, “Let the earth sprout vegetation, plants yielding seed and fruit trees bearing fruit.” But by chapter three, the word “seed” burgeons into a reference to the “seed of the woman,” the Promised Seed who will defeat Satan. And thus begins the mystery of the seed.
Do you remember planting a few seeds in a paper cup? Maybe you did this at home with your Mom or in an elementary classroom. For days nothing happened; you probably figured the seeds died. Who noticed?
Just when you had forgotten all about the little science project, you happened by the cup and saw fledgling plants poking their heads out of the soil. Back in the 1800s, Alfred, Lord Tennyson experienced a moment of enlightenment over a flower. Inspired, he wrote:
“Flower in the crannied wall, I pluck you out of the crannies; — Hold you here, root and all, in my hands, Little flower — but if I could understand What you are, root and all, and all in all, I should know what God and man is”
As grandparents, we want to plant Gospel seeds into the hearts of our grandchildren. So we seek ways to do that beyond the weekly letters I write the first year of each child’s life. We scatter seeds, knowing as any good farmer acknowledges, that the miracle of growth lies in God’s hands alone.
What baby seed can grandparents drop into the soil of a three-month-old? Her world this Christmas season involves glazed eyes, the twinkling of lights, the rattling of paper, the touches of those who love her. With the help of World Vision, we gave a lamb (in Baby’s name) to a needy, third-world country. The baby received the chenille lamb as a reminder to her parents to pray for the people who get that baby lamb to raise. Perhaps, as Baby grows older, she will understand the gift, the opportunity to give to those who have virtually nothing. If we give her a representation of the animal or a photograph of the person receiving support, we will ask Baby to pray for the recipients herself.We pray for her heart to embrace such joyful giving, because the Lord uses seeds broadcast throughout the world to call His own to Him.
Like the seeds in the cup, we may forget. But Isaiah tells us that God does not; He has purposed to grow His own by sending forth His word to flourish:
“As the rain and snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater, so is my word that goes out from my mouth: it will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.” Isaiah 55:10-11.