A few weeks ago now, Spring suddenly jumped on us, bursting with bright colours. It was quite a contrast to the dirty snow, and greys and browns of late winter! Quite a dramatic change! I’ve included some snapshots of some of the flowers on my walk to the Japanese Language Centre (JLC) to give you a little taste of what its been like on my 5 min walk to work. Seasons are important to the Japanese and there was much debate about whether/when Spring had come or not. Apparently, they change the range of letter writing paper to fit with the seasons, although these days we don’t write enough letters to buy new paper every season!
Inside JLC the decor follows the theme of seeds. Like with the parable of the sower, the seed represents the Word of God. But this time, people are carrying the seed to spread it. And the Spirit/Breath/Wind of God blows the seed to spread it.
With all these flowers out, I was reminded of this theme of seeds. It made me reflect a little on what kind of soil Japan is. Shusaku Endo, a famous Japanese Catholic author, calls Japan the marsh in which Christianity cannot take root and grow. But I was also reminded of the parable of the growing seed.
The Parable of the Growing Seed (Mark 4)
26He also said, “This is what the kingdom of God is like. A man scatters seed on the ground. 27Night and day, whether he sleeps or gets up, the seed sprouts and grows, though he does not know how.28All by itself the soil produces grain—first the stalk, then the head, then the full kernel in the head.29As soon as the grain is ripe, he puts the sickle to it, because the harvest has come.”
All these flowers have suddenly bloomed in all their glory. But for months their seeds lay unseen underground. At the right time, the shoot came out, grew and blossomed in beautiful technicolour. Whether people slept or got up, these flowers kept growing, slowly but surely, all by themselves.
Even if we don’t see revival in Japan, even if we don’t see much fruit, the kingdom is growing night and day. We don’t know how. Our job is just to keep spreading the seed.