The Gospels this week have all revolved around gardening and farming, with the sowing of seeds and the harvesting of grain. In all of them the kingdom of God is likened to one of these planted and harvested acres.In each reading the reader is given a glimpse, or idea, or suggestion of what the kingdom of God is like. The Kingdom of God is likened to a planted field. The question becomes though, what does this kingdom of God resemble, if it indeed is like a garden or field of plants? Does it resemble the structured formal; gardens of Europe, carefully manicured and structured where every plant has its place and those that don’t are removed? Where shrubs are trimmed at angles,
and labyrinths amuse the guests? Does it resemble a vegetable garden where those invited to the kingdom must pass the requirements of foodstuff? Where crop and weed are clearly defined? Does it contain the logic of a Japanese Garden, manicured ever so slightly? Does it resemble the monotony of a grain field, or an industrial farm with one purpose and one purpose only? Is it the abandoned field, where what ever can grow does?Is it the struggles of a secondary forest, or the ,maturity of old growth? Alpine meadow, wetland, or desert oasis?Forest or Field? In cultivated fields, much effort is taken to reap a reward. In nature everything has its place, and even places nothing grows serve a purpose.When the kingdom of God resembles a plot of land, most folks have an idea what that plot looks like. The trick is though,might be to consider the others.
When Jesus gave the parable of the sower, casting seeds was one of the ways crops were indeed planted. The farmer was content to let the seeds fall on rocks, on the pathway, in thickets, on soil, in poor or rich soil. The seeds landed where they might and the varied garden was precisely what was expected. The farmer simply cast the seeds and accepted whatever the bounty might be.
Like architecture, farming made advances.The other type of farming was the large scale type which involved not just a farmer and their bag o’seeds. The agriculturist who owned the land had laborers to cultivate the field, others to plant the seeds, and yet others to harvest. Theirs was the big operation designed for maximize the yield. Of course the landowner reaped the bounty, while those who prepared the field,and cast the seeds and harvested the crop received little reward.When Jesus describes the sower of seeds, his audience was very familiar with the type of gardens.
In Jesus parable of the wheat and the weeds, Jesus does not simply talk of an abstract concept.A common problem for many of the large agricultural farms was weed control, and that control was simply out of their hands. For a crop to be either a useful grain or useless mixture of grain and weed was dependent on weather. Temperature and rainfall could either favor a field of wheat, or it could favor wheat mixed with weeds. For all the advancements in cultivation, man is still dependent on God for a bountiful harvest.
The question still remains though, if the Kingdom of God is likened to a garden, what would that garden look like?