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Several years back, archaeologists began excavating in the courtyard of a medieval monastery and they found seeds that had been dormant for more than 400 years. King Henry VIII had closed the monastery in 1539 and the herbs tended by the monks had died, but the seeds sprouted to life again after the archaeologists disturbed the earth. For hundreds of years the seeds just lay there, then, without warning—life?
A seed is planted in the ground, it may lay there for years dormant or the germination time might be months long, but something is happening below the surface. As with the seeds in the monastery, they may be surviving until a more opportune climate arises or it might be setting down an extensive root system for optimal growth. A mystery, but when God breathes life, the plant breaks the surface of the ground, and grows.
The ministry of Jesus was very much the same way. In the beginning it just didn’t’look like a whole lot was going on. Twelve bungling fellas, who like the rest of the folks didn’t “get it,” so they had to have private tutoring lessons after class, but just when that seed appears to grow, it gets splayed upon a cross and dies, but then the stone was rolled away, and once again—life.
Jesus said, “The kingdom of God is as if a man should scatter seed upon the ground, and should sleep and rise night and day and the seed should sprout and grow he knows not how.” What is meant by saying that the man “sleeps and rises” is that after he scattered the seed, the man went about his day to day business. He had done all he could do. The sprouting and growing was the work of the lord. The Lord would do what the farmer could not—give life. The same is true with he work of the Church. We seek to do the will of God. We till the soil, we remove the rocks, we setup the irrigation, we scatter the seed, but it is the Lord who will give life and he will do it in his own time. And much of this work of the Lord is performed below the surface, out of sight. He instructs us not to make a big show of ourselves, to be humble, so it only stands to reason that he will act in a similar manner, but we should never be fooled by the perceived lack of activity or the silence, because when you least expect it—what was hidden will come to life; therefore, just as the farmer in the parable was ready at once to harvest the crop, we also must be prepared for when the harvest comes in.
James Lloyd Breck who we celebrate today was one who planted many seeds. He planted the seed of Nashotah House where I went to seminary and also Seabury, another seminary in the Episcopal Church (although I can’t imagine why anyone would want to go there if you could go to Nashotah!). He also planted the seeds for numerous other organizations and churches, which to this day, 150 plus years later, continue to produce fruitful crops. St. Matthew’s is a 125 years old this year. If the Lord has not returned by then, I pray that the seeds we are planting will be producing good crops 125 years from now, just as the seeds that Breck planted continue to multiply.