I’m a news junkie as well as a history buff, so naturally I’ve been spending a lot of time over the last week watching the BBC World News and following all the events surrounding the passing of Queen Elizabeth II and the accession of King Charles III. It’s an extraordinary moment in world history, and these events haven’t taken place in seven decades—a span of time that has seen unprecedented transformations in politics, culture, technology, and science. Queen Elizabeth’s reign was the longest in history, and she represents a generation that is almost gone—the generation of people like my grandparents, those with the memory and experience of the Second World War. The Queen seemed for most of us a permanent fixture in the political life of the world; only a minority of the population even remember a time when she wasn’t on the throne. And yet, change inevitably comes. Even to something and someone that seems so permanent. These days have me reflecting on change, memory, and the handing down of traditions to new generations.
In a recent sermon, Pastor Dan referenced the novel “Parable of the Sower” by Octavia Butler, in which the main character says:
All that you touch you change.
All that you change changes you.
The only lasting truth is change.
God is change.
With these words, the main character teaches the principles of a new religion—what she calls “Earthseed.” God is change, she says; and in that change lies the possibility of growth and adaptation. Just as seeds can be sowed and adapted to new and diverse environments, so must humanity adapt and be planted anew.
It’s no accident, I think, that Octavia Butler chose this metaphor of the sower as her title. The seed contains all the possibilities for growth and new life. The seed contains promise. When everything around you seems to be dead or dying, a seed is a sign of hope. Jesus understood this too, which is why I think he used the image of a seed for one of his most well-known parables, about a farmer sowing seed. It’s an act of hope and almost wastefulness, as the farmer goes out into the field and free-casts his seed, hoping for the best.
But in that small seed—in that tiny, ordinary bit of grain, there’s possibility. Possibility that can upend the world as we’ve come to know it. So I got to thinking: what are the seeds—the tiny containers of hope and possibility, that you’re sowing right now? What are the seeds that you’re holding in your hand, too afraid to sow? What are the seeds that we haven’t even noticed yet, waiting to give birth to something as yet unknown?
Change seems to be all around us. There’s loss, uncertainty, and grief, as well as new and exciting things being born. It can be hopeful, scary, and confusing—all at the same time. But in the change, the loss, the newness, the excitement—there’s the promise. What we call the kingdom of God. And that kingdom makes all the earthly kingdoms that human beings have ever thought of fade away in the face of the justice, peace, joy, and compassion that it brings. May that kingdom be born in and among us today and every day.