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The Miracle Seed

Preaching the Parables
Cycle B
Today's Gospel presents two parables for preaching. This means that we must decide whether or not to preach on both or on just one. The parables presented here are: "The Secretly Growing Seed" (4:26--29) and "The Mustard Seed" (4:30--32).

While each parable carries its own special message, there are similarities between them. Both present a description of the kingdom of God; both parables involve a growing seed and the size of plant the seed produces. When we think of "seed," we also usually think of the parable of the sower and the soils, but this popular parable will not appear in the Lectionary for almost two years - Pentecost 8, Proper 10 (Cycle A) - so we need have little fear of repetition in our message.

Another important theme presented is the subject of growth. One of today's parables tells us of a seed's gradual growth while the second amazes us with spectacular growth. Both parables also contrast the tiny seed with the bountiful harvest it is able to produce.


Context Of The Day
Since the First and Second lessons are readings in course, there is no clear relation to the Gospel for the Day. The Psalm (46) is related to the First Lesson and is a lament over Saul and Jonathan's death ("the nations rage, the kingdoms totter" [v. 6]). The Prayer of the Day reminds us that we were called as priests "to bear witness" to God's promises, or, in other words, to scatter the seed of God's Word. The Hymn of the Day, however, is definitely related to the parables of the seed: "Almighty God, your Word is cast like seed into the ground."

Context Of The Lectionary

The First Lesson. (2 Samuel 1:1, 17--27) David laments the death of King Saul and of his dear friend, Jonathan. With their deaths, Saul's kingdom comes to an end and David's kingdom is about to be established. In relation to the day's parables, the death and burial of Saul's kingdom plants the seed for the new and greater kingdom of David.

The Second Lesson. (2 Corinthians 5:1--10, 14--17) Paul assures the Corinthian Church that the physical body will be replaced by a spiritual one. To be in the physical body is also to be separated from Christ, but when physical death gives us a spiritual body, we will be with Christ. God will provide a new body, and in Christ we will form a new creation. In 1 Corinthians 15:35--50 Paul compares the body to the seed. Like seed, he says, the physical body is sown by dying and burial, and from this seed then rises a new body, the spiritual one. Thus, Paul writes, "God gives it a body as he has chosen, and to each kind of seed its own body. It is sown a physical body, it is raised a spiritual body" (vv. 38, 44) [Author emphasis].

The Gospel Lesson. (Mark 4:26--34) In two parables, Jesus describes the kingdom of God. The first parable likens the kingdom to seed that grows secretly until maturity, while the second tells us that the kingdom of God begins small but will end with greatness.

vv. 26--29 - parable of the secretly growing seed

vv. 30--32 - parable of the mustard seed

vv. 33--34 - Mark explains Jesus' use of parables in teaching the public

Context Of The Scriptures
1. Mark. Mark 4 contains three parables dealing with seed, and also provides an explanatory conclusion which makes use of a similar metaphor. A review of the chapter provides us with the context of the two parables for this Sunday.

vv. 1--20 - parable of the sower, seed, and soils (and an explanation)

vv. 21--25 - observation that the truth cannot be kept secret

vv. 26--29 - parable of the growing seed

vv. 30--32 - parable of the mustard seed

vv. 33--34 - Jesus' use of parables in teaching

vv. 35--41 - Jesus' calming of a storm at sea

2. Parallel passages. (Matthew 13:31--32; Luke 13:18--19) The parallel passages deal only with the parable of the mustard seed. The parable of the secretly growing seed appears only in Mark.

In Matthew's account of the mustard seed, the only difference is in the fact that Matthew has the seed grow from a shrub into a tree, while Mark does not mention a tree.

Luke's account is identical with Matthew's except that Luke does not describe the mustard seed as the smallest of seeds, and does not mention the shrub, only the tree. Whether the mustard seed grows as large as a shrub or a tree has hermeneutical implications which will be discussed later.

3. Related references to seed. The following references to seed may be helpful in understanding the two parables to be dealt with today:

Mark 4:1--20 - The parable of the sower, seed, and souls.

Mark 17:20 - At the foot of Mount Transfiguration, Jesus heals an epileptic boy. The Disciples ask Jesus why they failed to heal him while he was on top of the mountain. Jesus explains, "Because of your little faith. For truly, I say to you, if you have faith as a grain of mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, 'move hence to yonder place,' and it will move; and nothing will be impossible to you" [Author emphasis].
Luke 17:5 - The Disciples ask Jesus to increase their faith. He replies, "If you have faith as a grain of mustard seed, you could say to this sycamine tree, 'Be rooted up, and be planted in the sea,' and it would obey you" [Author emphasis].

Matthew 13:24f - After good seed is sown, someone by night sows weeds [Author emphasis].

John 12:24 - When Greeks come to see Jesus, he realizes that his end is near and interprets the occasion as his hour to be glorified. He comments. "Unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit" [Author emphasis].

1 Peter 1:23 - The new life in God results from imperishable seed. "You have been born anew, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable through the living and abiding Word of God" [Author emphasis].


Today's pericope (Mark 4:26--34) gives us two parables dealing with the kingdom of God. The two have a common theme - i.e., growth of the kingdom of God - but in the first (vv. 26--29) the growth is gradual, and in the second (vv. 30--32) growth is fantastic, growing from the smallest seed to a plant which is big enough to house the nests of birds. Although each parable alone may form the text and subject of a sermon, both parables may also be preached together because of the common theme. These short parables simply say that God causes his kingdom to grow, and that it will not stop growing until it covers the world.

Precis Of The Pericope

Jesus taught that the kingdom of God is like seed that is sown. The farmer, who sowed the seed, sleeps by night and lives day after day. He sees the seed growing but he cannot explain how it grows. The seed becomes a stalk, then a head appears, and finally the full grain in the head. When the grain is rope, the farmer cuts it down, for the harvest has come. Jesus said again, "What shall we say the kingdom of God is like or what parable can explain it? It is like a mustard seed, the smallest of seeds, sown upon the ground. It grows until it becomes the biggest of all shrubs. Its branches are so large that birds make their nests in its shade."

Thesis: Like a seed, the kingdom of God grows until it eventually covers the earth.

Theme: Great endings from tiny beginnings! or "Behold, what God has wrought!"

Key Words In The Parable
1. "Kingdom" (vv. 26, 30) People living in a democracy may have trouble with the word, "kingdom." In Jesus' day, every nation was a monarchy or dictatorship, and people could easily understand the concept of "kingdom." A kingdom is a realm of a king who is the absolute ruler. The people in a kingdom belong to the king and are obligated to obey and serve him. The kingdom of God is the realm of God, for he is the absolute king, and in his realm his commands are obeyed and his will is done. The citizens of the kingdom are the people of God. Where is God's kingdom located? It is present in the believer and in the church, the fellowship of believers. The church is not the kingdom of God, but the kingdom of God is in the church, even though it does not always obey the king's commands or do his will. Because many do not understand the kingdom of God, Jesus gave these two parables to describe the nature and work of the kingdom.

2. "Sleep" (v. 27) After sowing the seed, the farmer in the parable went about his normal activities: sleeping at night and doing his chores by day. Having sown the seed, he shows no anxiety about the seed's productivity - he plants the seed in hope of an eventual harvest, and has patience while the seed grows. "Sleep" reminds us that the kingdom of God comes from God and not from human effort. The farmer does nothing but sow the seed. The parable does not even mention his cultivating, fertilizing, or watering the seed, and he does not even understand what or who causes the seed to sprout. The arrival and establishment of the kingdom of God on earth is the work of God.

3. "Harvest" (v. 29) When the seed reaches maturity, in the parable, it is harvested. There is, in other words, a productive completion of the growth process. The seed is not the victim of drought when only half grown, and cattle do not get into the field and trample the stalks, and hail does not break off the heads of grain. The point of the parable is that the kingdom of God will not be curtailed or destroyed but will reach full maturity. Some interpret "harvest" eschatologically in terms of the final gathering of the nations and the separation of the sheep from the goats. But the parable is not referring to the End, but is simply saying that the seed will fulfill its destiny and produce fruit. Indeed, there is a harvest at time's end, but there is also an important harvest to be gathered now: "The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few" (Matthew 9:37).

4. "Like" (vv. 26, 30 [GNB]) "The kingdom of God is like this ..." - like what? Is it like the seed that has the principle and power of life in it? Is it like the growth of the seed? Is it like the harvest that results from the seed? Could the kingdom of God be like all three of these?

5. "Smallest" (v. 31) Scholars tell us that the mustard seed is not really the smallest seed, but in Jesus' day it was by tradition the smallest seed. Be that as it may, the mustard seed is so small that the naked eye can barely see it. The point is that great things can come from the smallest beginnings. The kingdom, after all, was started by a baby boy born in a barn and finally executed as a criminal on a shameful cross. The church began with eleven peasants who held no credentials other than the Holy Spirit. At the beginning, Christians were despised, persecuted, outlawed, and driven underground, and in the second century being a Christian was a crime in and of itself. Could a movement so small one day spread throughout the world? Revelation answers us that evil will be conquered and destroyed and Jesus and his kingdom will triumph: "And he shall reign forever and ever."

6. "Sown" (vv. 31, 32) For the seed to grow and produce, it must first die and be buried. A seed cannot preserve itself by isolating itself from the soil, but it is only by dying that it achieves a new, fuller life as a plant with grain, fruit, or flower. To grow and produce, the kingdom of God calls for the people in the kingdom to die in order to gain a new life of productivity. This principle was enunciated by Jesus when he said, "Unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit" (John 12:24). In the same manner, a disciple lives by the principle: "He who loves his life loses it, and he who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life" (John 12:25).

7. "Shrub" (v. 32) Only Mark says that the mustard seed grows into the greatest of shrubs, so great that birds use it for nests. Matthew and Luke both say that it grows into a tree. Since Mark is the earliest Gospel, his account is probably more authentic. The shrub is not a small plant, and it grows to be ten to twelve feet in height. The "tree," on the other hand, is sometimes understood escha--tologically, so that it represents God's great kingdom, and the birds in the tree stand for the nations of the world. Indeed, the day is coming when the kingdoms of the world become the kingdom of God, but this parable may not be teaching this. The parable simply depicts the contrast of the tiny seed, with its fabulous growth. The "tree" is also sometimes interpreted as a fulfillment of the prophecy found in Daniel 4:12 and Ezekiel 31:6.


With the context and content of the parables established, we find ourselves at the point where we should contemplate the truth, teachings, and principles in the parables for their possible proclamation this coming Sunday. This calls for musing, thinking, reflecting, and meditating.

1. God's doing. Contrary to much popular opinion, we do not bring nor establish God's kingdom on earth by our work, intelligence, and gifts. The kingdom will be established on earth by God. Jesus taught us to pray, "Thy kingdom come," for example, but if we brought the kingdom, there would be no need to pray for God to send it. The parable of the secret growing seed calls attention to our helplessness in bringing the kingdom to earth. After sowing the seed, the farmer sleeps at night and leaves the growth of the seeds up to God, and when the seed sprouts, the farmer has no idea how it happened. The seed has an inherent power of life, and it is the Word of God which causes the kingdom to grow. Our responsibility is to sow the Word, and to let it change our social order to one of peace and justice.

2. Hope. The parables teach us to hope. When the seed is sown, we can hope for a harvest, and when the mustard seed is sown, we can hope for a great shrub. When a farmer sows his seed, he can do no more than hope that God will send rain and sun for the seed to grow to maturity and harvest. It is easy for Christian workers to become discouraged because they cannot see any immediate results from their work. After preaching as deeply and passionately as possible, for example, a preacher often sees a congregation leaving, apparently unmoved. It is for this reason that preachers may often refer to "the foolishness of preaching." By teaching, preaching, and witnessing, however, we sow the seed of the Word in the hope that some day there will be a harvest. These parables give the preacher an opportunity to overcome discouragement in the church by giving all a sound basis for hope. The seed of God's Word will produce a harvest, and of this we can be certain!

3. Patience. "Rome was not built in a day." Nor does seed produce fruit in a day. Seed grows slowly to maturity. A mother's seed, for example, usually takes nine months for a baby to be born, while a farmer's seed demands that the farmer wait from spring to fall for the harvest. But modern people do not like to wait - we want instant tea or coffee, for the telephone to ring our party immediately, the television and radio to begin performing without time for a warm--up. The kingdom of God does not come overnight, however. The seed of the Word is sown and then we must patiently wait for results. This applies also to human relations: A sign on a pastor's desk said, "Be patient with me, for God is not finished with me yet." And parents need patience while the seed of their training produces the growth of good character in their children.

4. Potential. The parable suggests the great potential may come in tiny packages. What can a tiny mustard seed do, or amount to? In the seed is the power of life to grow to maturity, and in the parable the mustard seed becomes a shrub ten feet high. I was once asked an unforgettable question, when I was but a small boy: "Do you think you will ever amount to anything?" There are also many old adages illustrating this theme: "Big things come in small packages," "Out of an acorn comes a mighty oak," and "Despise not the day of small beginnings." And when in Bethlehem's barn a baby boy was born, who could have guessed that he would become the Savior of the world? A picture was taken of a human egg forty hours after conception and it was revealed to consist of only four cells no larger than the head of a pin. Here was a picture of a human being of microscopic size, and yet an adult human being has this tiny beginning. In the parable of the mustard seed, then, we have an unremarkable beginning but an amazing ending.

5. Victory. No matter how small the seed when planted, it will grow and produce a bountiful harvest. The kingdom of God is coming and will cover the world: The day will come when the kingdoms of the world will join to become the kingdom of God. Kings will die, nations will fall, beasts of evil will be destroyed, and the kingdom of truth, love, justice, and peace will prevail. Like birds coming to a tree, the nations will seek refuge in God's kingdom. This is the message of the book of Revelation, and this truth is implicit in today's parables.

6. Life out of death. When the pyramids of Egypt were explored, seed was found that was thousands of years old, but when planted, the seed produced wheat. Seed has life sealed inside, so that if it is put in a glass container, for example, the seed will preserve itself. In both parables in today's Gospel, however, the seed is sown - its old identity dies and is buried. Out of this death grows a resurrection in the form of flowers or grain, and it is for this reason, for example, that flowers are usually placed on altars to signify the Resurrection. This process illustrates it is an eternal principle: no gain without pain, no success without work, no progress without sacrifice. Jesus compared his death to a seed buried in order to rise in new glory, and he taught that a life must be buried in his cause to be saved. It is not a question of a future life after death, but, rather, of life out of death in this world, in our time.

7. Growth. These parables deal with the growth of the kingdom. In the first parable, the growth is gradual, from seed to stalk to ear to the full grain in the ear. In the second parable, there is remarkable growth from the smallest seed to the great shrub. In both parables then, we can see how important characteristics of the kingdom's growth:

A. Growth is certain - the seed sprouts without human effort.

B. Growth is secret - the farmer does not know how it grows.

C. Growth is gradual - from seed to harvest.

D. Growth is complete - it continues until the grain is mature.

Because of this growth, the kingdom of God is here both now and in the future. At present the kingdom is not perfect nor universal - it is growing; at its consummation, the kingdom will arrive in all of its bounty at the Parousia.

8. Secrecy. In the parable of the growing seed, the farmer "knows not how" the seed grows into a mature plant, since it is a mystery and one of God's secrets. What makes a seed germinate? Why does it grow? How is life contained in the tiny seed, and all the future form and product of the plant? How the kingdom of God grows and produces a harvest of love, peace, joy, and justice is also a mystery. It is a mystery how God can create something out of nothing, or something great out of something of no apparent worth or size. It reminds us of Paul's words, "How inscrutable his ways! For who has known the mind of the Lord?" (Romans 11:34).

Homily Hints
1. The 3M of growth. (4:26--29) The primary characteristic in both parables is growth: gradual growth to maturity, and fantastic growth to a big shrub. In the parable of the secretly growing seed we have -

A. The miracle of growth - v. 27

B. The manner of growth - v. 28

C. The maturation of growth - v. 29

2. God does it all! (4:26--32) Many people mistakenly believe that by our work and gifts to the church we are building the kingdom and bringing it to earth. The two parables, however, show that establishing the kingdom on earth is solely God's business.

A. God uses his people to -

1. Sow the seed of the Word - v. 26

2. Wait for the harvest - v. 28

3. Reap the harvest - v. 29

B. God provides the harvest -

1. Creates the seed

2. Causes the seed to grow - vv. 28, 32

3. Bring the seed to completion - harvest, shrub - vv. 29, 32

3. Hold your horses! (4:26--32) We want a better world right now, and we feel that we cannot afford to wait for the world peace. The afflicted cry out for immediate justice: How long, O Lord, how long must we put up with crime, poverty, and ignorance? We want the kingdom of God now, not after we are dead.

A. In our impatience, we take things into our own hands to bring the kingdom to earth:

1. Revolution - Zealots and violence

2. Pietism - Pharisees and rules of conduct

3. Legislation - Judaizers: "There ought to be a law against it."

4. Speculation - Apocalyptists: claim to know the hour of the Parousia.

B. Faith gives us patience to wait for the kingdom to come to Paul: "I am sure that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion" (Philippians 1:6). As the seed of the Word is planted in you, be patient - with social problems, with personal problems, with your spouse, children, and church.


How can these two parables in today's Gospel be applied to modern society? How can preachers interest the people in the lessons of these parables? Are we talking about that which they could not care less, answering questions which they are not asking? Let us be honest and face the facts: How many in the average congregation are interested or concerned about the kingdom of God? How many can even explain what is meant by "kingdom"? Does it really matter to the congregation if the kingdom grows or how it grows? If the parable of the mustard seed tells about the fantastic growth of the kingdom, then how can we reconcile the parable with the huge numerical losses of American churches during the past decade? Do you think the people in the pews will "buy" the idea that a better world depends on God rather than on human efforts? These questions challenge a preacher to be realistic, relevant, and practical in preparing a sermon on today's parables.


As we begin our sermon preparation, we face certain problems which we need to be aware of so that we might handle them as best we can.

1. Kingdom. American congregations have difficulty in understanding the concept of the kingdom of God since we have never lived in a kingdom. And because we are devotees of democracy, we may even have an antipathy toward the very idea of the kingdom. This may call for a careful explanation and defense of the term. Since the two parables tell us what the kingdom of God is like, it is not possible to avoid the term altogether.

2. Bigness. Contemporary society is obsessed with bigness. We boast of belonging to the biggest church in town or in the denomination, or we may live in the biggest state in the union, or we may work for the biggest corporation. In contrast, the parables deal with the little seed that slowly grows into a harvest or great shrub. How can preachers, then, sell the idea of smallness when the public is so interested in bigness?

3. Urban society. The parables deal with an agricultural situation: soil, seed, harvest, farmer. They assume that we are familiar with these terms even though we live today in an industrial and technological age in which only three percent of the American population is living on a farm. How many members of your congregation, for example, farm for a living or even have a garden? These conditions present a challenge to the preacher to take the principles of the parables and translate them into terms meaningful to modern society.

Do these parables speak to the needs of the twenty--first--century people? Consider the following:

1. Discouragement. Many Christians get discouraged in witnessing and performing good deeds because they cannot see any immediate results of their work. And this was precisely the occasion for Jesus' giving the parable of the secret growing seed (4:26--29). For three years, Jesus and the Disciples preached, taught, and healed, but no progress could be seen - no change in society, no wholesale repentance, no mass revival. Even a pastor often feels discouraged when he/she sees no change in people's lives resulting from proclamation and pastoral care. Parents often feel the same way about the training of their children and take comfort in the saying, "Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it." People today need to understand that the seed of the Word will grow and eventually produce results. We need that hope and assurance.

2. Smallness. In a society that glories in bigness, we need to appreciate the importance and the potential power of smallness. The parables stress the smallness of the seed and its eventual greatness and productivity. People need to know that a little faith can move giant mountains, that a little love can solve large problems, that a little word can give deep encouragement, that a little act can save the most desperately lost. God can make something special of a person of little or no apparent account, while a great institution may result from the dedication of one individual.

3. Humanism. We all know that we need a better world, since conditions in the world are so atrocious: civil rights are often disregarded, innocent people are tortured, the mad arms race may lead to cosmic destruction, many families are breaking up, sexual morality seems nonexistent. Who would believe us if we say, "Just sow the seed of the Word of God and all will be well"? Very few would agree. If the world is going to change for the better, we are going to have to get busy in changing it. So we are all in favor of social action, human rights, and the social gospel. But today's parables teach us that God's kingdom of love, peace, and justice is God's work, so that our task is simply to sow the seed and allow God to give the increase. We must help our people to understand their proper role, no matter how difficult it is to communicate a message which seems to contradict our deepest feelings and best impulses.

Illustrative Materials
1. Seeing results. We often become discouraged because we see no results of our efforts. A bishop was the guest preacher in a certain church. At the time of the children's message, the children were allowed to ask the bishop about his work. One little fellow asked, "What do you like to do best?" He answered, "I like best to mow our lawn because I can see that I have done something."

2. Cooperation with God. God brings the kingdom on earth with the cooperation of humanity's sowing the seed and reaping the harvest. One day a man passed a garden full of flowers and vegetables. He called to the gardener, "What a beautiful garden God has given you!" "Yes," replied the gardener, "but you should have seen it when God had it alone."

3. Trying to do the impossible. Early one morning near the local high school football field, a pastor saw a large woodpecker fly to one of the steel poles. The woodpecker began to hammer his brains out against the side of the pole in hopes that he would get a bug or worm for his breakfast. The woodpecker never realized that it was a fruitless enterprise, for he kept at it for an hour. Trying to establish the kingdom of God on earth by human efforts is equally futile.

* * *

Augustine: "Without God we cannot; without us God will not."

* * *

H. Richard Niebuhr: "Man's task is not that of building utopias, but that of eliminating weeds and tilling the soil so that the kingdom of God can grow. His method is not one of striving for perfection or of acting perfectly, but of clearing the road by repentance and forgiveness."

4. Patience during slow growth. For decades, Western missionaries preached almost fruitlessly to people of northern Nigeria. During this time the Nigerians wanted no religion but their own. Since the late '70s, the people of Nigeria have been turning to Christ by the hundreds so that today's missionaries are desperately calling for help. Six thousand Nigerians have joined the church, and 200 churches have been built. Hundreds have attended Bible training schools. The seed of the Word of God takes time to produce a bountiful harvest of souls.

5. Small beginnings and huge endings. The Reverend Mr. Wildmon, a Methodist pastor of a small church in Tupelo, Mississippi, began to protest against pornographic materials in the public media. He later founded the National Federation for Decency which grew from one to 350 chapters nationwide. One chapter in New England claims 1,000 members and has picketed thirty adult magazine outlets in the region. One success was found in persuading 7--11 stores to take Playboy and Penthouse magazines off the shelves.

6. Kingdom growth. "The last ten years has been the most dramatic harvest the world has even seen," says Patrick Johnstone, research secretary of the Worldwide Evangelization Crusade. Since 1980, for example, 27,000 Chinese people have become Christians each day, and South Korean enjoys a 24 percent increase in church membership and has the world's largest churches. Costa Rica has had a 100 percent increase in four years, while in Argentina "people are falling all over each other to become Christians."

If the seed of the Word is causing God's kingdom to grow so fantastically in some parts of the world, why is there a decrease in Western Europe and in America? In Finland, only five percent attend worship and a mere one percent take Communion. In Western Germany the average Lutheran church has 3,000 members, but has a weekly attendance of only 100. And if the Church of Scotland continues to lose 19,000 members each year, she will cease to exist completely by 2030! In one year (1985) Methodists reported a loss of 65,000, Presbyterians 43,727, and Lutherans (LCA) 13,405. Is the western church failing to sow the seed of the kingdom?

7. Sow and sleep. Martin Luther once wrote, "I opposed indulgences and all the papists, but never with force. I simply taught, preached, and wrote God's Word, otherwise I did nothing. And while I slept or drank Wittenberg beer with my friends Philip and Amsdorf, the Word so greatly weakened the papacy that no price nor emperor ever afflicted such losses upon it. I did nothing: the Word did everything."
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Janice B. Scott
The first thing Jack saw when he walked into church on the Sunday morning was a bright red octopus. It seemed an odd animal to be in church, but Jack's heart lifted in anticipation, for with an octopus in the offing and a bright red one at that, surely the preacher would have an exciting talk this morning.

Of course it was only a paper octopus, but nonetheless it filled Jack's mind with thoughts of the sea and strange sea creatures and coral reefs and snorkelling and all those things you never usually thought about in church.


Kristin Borsgard Wee
Just a short time ago, a young homemaker and mother sat in my office telling me how she was feeling about her life. She said she felt she was adrift in a tiny boat in the middle of a great and surging ocean. How she had gotten into that boat and where she was going was a mystery to her. All she could see were the huge waves towering over her frail, little boat, threatening at any moment to swamp it and sink it, to swallow her up forever.

Stan Purdum
The United Methodists came out with their most recent hymnbook in 1989. Three years before that, while the hymnal committee was deciding which hymns from the previous book would be included in the new one and which would be deleted, they concluded that "Onward Christian Soldiers" should be omitted. The committee voted to delete it, feeling that the hymn was overly militaristic and thus was inconsistent with the church's goal of eradicating war and establishing world peace. The announcement of this decision, however, made in mid-May 1986, launched a great brouhaha in the church.

Glenn W. Mcdonald
In the year 2000 Forbes Magazine featured a special edition on a single topic that it called "the biggest issue of our age -- time." The editors wrote, "We've beaten, or at least stymied, most of humanity's monsters: disease, climate, geography, and memory. But time still defeats us. Lately its victories seem more complete than ever. Those timesaving inventions of the last half-century have somehow turned on us. We now hold cell phone meetings in traffic jams, and 24-7 has become the most terrifying phrase in modern life."

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