When I go to church, my favorite sermons are the ones that give an interpretation of God that I'd never considered before, or that help me see a Bible story in a new way. Two weeks ago, Bill Tully's sermon at St. Bart's (http://www.stbarts.org) did just that. The Old Testament reading was Ezekiel 17:22-24, which reads in part: "Thus says the Lord God: I myself will take a sprig from the lofty top of a cedar; I will set it out...I will plant it on a high and lofty mountain...in order that it may produce boughs and bear fruit, and become a noble cedar."
The Gospel reading was from Mark 4:26-35, the "mustard seed" passage: "[Jesus] said, 'With what can we compare the Kingdom of God...It is like a mustard seed, which, when sown upon the ground, is the smallest of all the seeds on earth; yet when it is sown it grows up and becomes the greatest of all shrubs, and puts forth large branches, so that the birds of the air can make nest in its shade.'"
Rev. Tully compared and contrasted the two passages, pointing out that mustard wasn't considered imperial and noble like the mighty cedar. Mustard was a weed. So Jesus was actually doing something pretty radical here: comparing the Kingdom of God to a weed! It was messy and invasive. It got into things. Once planted, you couldn't stop it. Weeds just grow and grow, and you don't even fully understand how. "There is something about how life turns out that we can't control," Rev. Tully said. But what we do know is that life is growth -- in all its messy, uncontrollable glory.