Part of my childhood was spent in the flatlands of Illinois, where you could see for miles and miles. There were corn and soybean fields from horizon to horizon. When I would meet people from outside the area they would ask: how could you stand the boringness of the scenery? Where was the beauty? I would talk about sunrises and sunsets because you could see the sun splinter from horizon to horizon. But if you pushed me to tell you what I found beautiful I would point to a weed. When we would drive from the top of the state to visit my brother in the middle of the state, I would spend my time looking at the weeds on the side of the road. They in fact were my favorite flower and my favorite color. I loved to look at those touches of blue/purple next to either the green or brown. This was the beauty I found on all our trips. This was a plant that was spindly and even when mowed would learn how to grow to survive the mowing. I love the flower’s ability to grow where it will. It doesn’t seem to care where it grows; it just follows the traffic and sprouts all over.
There is a story Jesus tells about a weed that grows. It is the biggest bush. He used this image of this weed to describe the kingdom of God (Mark 4:30-34). Pliny the Elder describes this weed in the encyclopedia he wrote in 77 AD. “With its pungent taste and fiery effect, mustard is extremely beneficial for the health. It grows entirely wild, though it is improved by being transplanted: but on the other hand, when it has once been sown, it is scarcely possible to get the place free of it, as the seed when it falls germinates at once. (Pliny, "Natural History" 19.170-171; Rackham et al. 5.528-529)”This weed grows out of control and attracts unto itself birds that are particularly desired. This pungent shrub can take over. There is something uncontrollable about this weed. Jesus says this weed is like the Kingdom of God. The weed grows to provide shelter and the seed just spreads. The weed is very hard to get rid of. The Kingdom of God a weed! The Kingdom impossible to destroy, providing shelter, and spreading where it will. What if this summer as you wander around you look for these weeds and every time you see one, think about spreading the seed. Let the Spirit use you to spread the kingdom. Is there someone you can help, be an ear to listen, a voice of hope, laughter that heals, a welcome that is extravagant? Is there someone you can invite to encounter God with and through you and our church? Is there someone you can help find shelter, a meal, a place that it safe?