New Vision, New Life

17 June 2018 – Lectionary 11, Proper 6, Time after Pentecost

If we hold a fistful of seeds in our hands, we can’t tell by looking at them which ones will grow or how big they will be. Jesus uses this simple analogy to get to the heart of Christian mentoring.

We do not know who will see the things we do or hear the things we say, but we do know that the seeds lie all around us. The water and light we provide through faithful living will have some influence on the growth of those seeds even while the Holy Spirit provides the main ingredients for germination. It behooves us, therefore, to plant well. . .

What if a kingdom, especially God’s kingdom, is less about place and more about. . . the way we live? In this series of pithy sayings from Jesus about the kingdom of God, we learn more about way than place. The way the kingdom works is through patient and regular attention to the ingredients that are life- sustaining for us rather than life-draining. –– Jennifer Copeland

Mark 4:26-34

Verses 33–34 are Mark’s explanation of Jesus’ parabolic practice: to tell parables to the public and later to explain them to his disciples. Verses 26–32, however, provide us with some Markan “meat” and a recurring Markan theme: the all-inclusiveness of the kingdom of God. The first parable (26–29) emphasizes the startling rapidity of the kingdom’s growth; the second (30–32) the insignificance of the proclamation (seeds) and its inclusive effectiveness (the birds can nest in it). –– Amandus J. Derr

Ezekiel 17:22-24

Set on the verge of the Babylonian Exile, the prophet, who has been continuously proclaiming destruction and doom, suddenly proclaims what might be called remnant theology: an insignificant cedar sprig, plucked and planted by YAHWEH, shall grow into a massive, fruitful all-sheltering and noble cedar, emphasizing again the way God uses the apparently insignificant to bring about the rule of God in the world. –– Amandus J. Derr

2 Corinthians 5:6-10 [11-13] 14-17

Many people rely upon corrective lens in order to see accurately, so most of us know the instantaneous change that occurs when the lenses go on. Fuzzy outlines are clearly distinguished objects; numbers that could not be seen now tell time; words that were only a blur now become sentences.

Paul tells the Corinthians a similar vision enhancement is possible with eyes of faith. With eyes of faith, crowds of nameless people become individuals of sacred worth. With eyes of faith, we understand that wealth is more accurately represented by intangible blessings than the tangible accumulation of material possessions. With eyes of faith, we give thanks for our blessings rather than counting our misfortunes. With eyes of faith, we see a future of hope that is unimaginable when all we have around us is despair.

While a prescription for new glasses can change the way we see the world in only a matter of seconds, the lens of faith often takes years to cultivate. We must wear these glasses every day, training our mind’s eye to see grace rather than guilt. In this way, “everything has become new!” –– Jennifer Copeland


Jennifer Copeland, a United Methodist ordained minister, served for 16 years as chaplain at Duke University and as director of the Duke Wesley Fellowship. She is currently executive director at North Carolina Council of Churches in Raleigh-Durham.

Amandus J. Derr is senior pastor of St. Peter Lutheran Church (ELCA) in New York City.

Homily Service 42, no. 3 (2009): 27-37.

David Turnbloom