Bloom Where You Are Planted
(Genesis 12:1-9; Matthew 13:31-32)

Today we turn our focus to our marigolds, remembering that it was six weeks ago we planted them as a metaphor for starting over, a symbol of beginning anew with Jesus as the center of our life.

So here we are six weeks later to see how we did, not only with our marigolds but also with our lives.

In our Gospel reading we learn that Jesus is near a lake, and it's recorded that great crowds followed him to the lake where he was to teach. As Jesus begins to teach he shares with those present different parables or stories to help the folks understand his message of God's reign and God's kingdom.

Now Jesus often used parables when teaching. A parable is an illustration or story that compares something familiar, to something unfamiliar, so that folks might understand what the teacher or preacher is saying.

Well Jesus is teaching and sharing different parables throughout Chapter 13 of Matthew, and then and as we come to verses 31 and 32 Jesus speaks of the Parable of the Mustard Seed, which is the story Franny read just a few minutes ago. Jesus was using the mustard seed, something very familiar to those he was teaching, to teach about the kingdom of God, which was something unfamiliar to those same people.

Now since it's Marigold Sunday lets replace the mustard seed with the marigold seed and let's consider the "parable of the marigold seed."

The kingdom of heaven is like a marigold seed, which a person took and planted in his or her flowerpot. Though it's a small seed, when it grows it becomes a beautiful plant so that all who see it might feel joy and wonderment.

In our parable of the marigold seed, we are comparing the familiar marigold seed with the less familiar Kingdom of God. Now the marigold seed is a small seed and represents the smallness of this world, compared to the marigold bloom, which represents the glory and greatness of the Kingdom of God.

The marigold seed represents us as followers of Christ, that by ourselves we are small, but with Christ in our lives we grow and bloom to live in the fullness of the kingdom of God. The same is also true of our congregation. We begin as a seed and over time with the proper care, nurturing, teaching, and understanding we bloom into all that God wants us to be.

Last week at Annual Conference the Bishop spent some time presenting his vision for the Conference for the next seven years. In his presentation to the 2000 people gathered he lifted up a bible study that's taking place on Metro Bus S1 in Washington DC every morning. He spoke of a ministry to those with HIV/Aids taking place in Washington, D.C. And he mentioned a new worship ministry taking place in a nightclub.

The Bishop also lifted up one church out of the 694 churches that make up this Annual Conference because it has over 90% of its worshiping congregation in ministry beyond Sunday morning worship. And that church is this one.

Bishop Schol spoke of how Trinity serves as a model for the other churches in the Conference to follow. And we ought to celebrate how God is using us. But we've only just begun, and we have much more to do in the name of Jesus.

We are blooming, the Conference sees it, our community is seeing it, and most importantly God sees it. We are no longer just a seed, we are no longer just leaves and a stalk, we're blooming because we're focused on bringing glory to God, we're focused on ministry to our community and beyond, in the name of Jesus Christ.

God has a calling for each of us, a job for each of us to do, and whether that job is a nurse, plumber, EMT, dispatcher, homemaker, retiree, and so on, God is saying we're like the marigold seed, and we are to grow to be all God wants us to be. We're to grow in our families, our community, our jobs, and within this congregation. We begin as a small seed of faith ultimately growing into a wonderful plant that blooms, bearing good fruit. God is saying to each of us, "Look, you have gifts that I have given you, " you have interests that I have placed within you, " and you have Jesus Christ in your heart, so bloom where I have planted you, " bloom and do the very best job you can what ever it may be, " grow as a child of God, " and produce good fruit that will bring glory to God and will serve as a witness for others you work with."

In other words God is saying no matter the extent of the gift we have been given, whether it's highly visible or behind the scenes, like the mustard seed or marigold seed, God can and will use each of our gifts to produce kingdom fruit and blooms.

Last Thursday night at our opening worship session our bishop spoke of church to the second power. He stated, " God has given each of us gifts to use to bring glory to God, and that when we allow God to act in us and through us as we use these gifts we are experiencing church to the second power."

Our contributions to the kingdom cannot be humanity-based alone, or we fail to reach our full potential, we fail to blossom in the way God intends. But when our contributions include God and are based on our response to God and our willingness to serve him, we have opportunity to be more than we thought possible. We are experiencing an extraordinary power, the power of God. And when we allow God to infuse us and this congregation with his power we will experience signs and wonders beyond our wildest dreams.

To bloom fully as God's children we must be continually watered with God's word and love, and nurtured in the faith. You know the neat thing about a marigold bloom is that it will keep bugs away from other plants. I have heard it said that if you plant marigolds near your vegetable plants you won't have as many bugs attacking your vegetables.

Well when we bloom and live in the fullness of God's kingdom we are better equipped to resist the bugs of life, better known as temptation and sin.

Now there is a watch-out. There may come a time when we need to be transplanted, just like a marigold that outgrows its original pot, so that we don't become pot bound. As a congregation God may want to transplant us so that we can grow further, and so our roots can spread out touching other people's lives, so we don't become church-bound, better known as inward focused.

This happened to me. Before entering pastoral ministry I can see where I had become pot-bound and very comfortable doing what I was doing. But God said "no, you can't fully know my kingdom until you are transplanted and can continue to grow." And here I am. Who would have ever thought I would be transplanted at Trinity in Emmitsburg.

Yes, God wants us to bloom where we're planted, but we mustn't become so comfortable with our place in life that we become pot-bound, and we fail to produce the blooms or fruit God wants us to produce.

Abram and Sarai (Sair-i) provide an example of two folks that are called by God to be transplanted in another place so that their roots might be spread. We heard read in our Old Testament reading from Genesis that even at his advanced age God was not done with Abram and Sarai (Sair-i) and had more for them to do.

God came to Abram and said, "Leave your country, your people and your father's household and go to the land I will show you. I will make you into a great nation and I will bless you: I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you."

Well, God is not only speaking to Abram, but is speaking to all of us as well. Let me use our graduates as an example of what this quote from God might be saying to them. "Leave your high school, your high school friends, and your parent's household, and go to the place I will show you. I will make you into a powerful witness of Christ and I will bless you: I will make your name known to others, and you will be a blessing to others. I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will judge; and all folks in your community will be blessed through you."

Now I'm not advocating to our graduates that they up and leave their families or ignore their high school friends, I'm suggesting that you can't remain so tied to the past that you fail to see all that God has planned for you. And this is true for all of us here as well, as the larger body of Christ.

It doesn't matter how old or young we are, how gifted or talented we might think we are, God wants us to bloom into the fullness of his glory, and it's never too late.

For some that may mean being more open to God, for others it may mean trying something new, and still for others it may mean more dramatic changes equivalent to transplanting a marigold.

God wants to plant us where we can be faithful witnesses so that others might see us grow and bloom into what Christ wants us to be. So listen for God's call and no matter where you find yourself along life's journey bloom where you're planted, so that Christ might shine in and through you. Amen

Read other messages by Pastor Wade