SERMON: “The Sower and The Seed”
Today we heard the parable of the Sower in the Gospel message. This is the first of several parables that we will hear in the weeks to come, and it will be well for us to remember that these parables of Jesus, when they were first heard were heard in two ways. Some found their message offensive and others found their message to be incredibly liberating and they heard them as good news about God’s love, about how God cares for the world and for everyone in it.
The offense in today’s parable should be obvious to any of you who garden and to any who have farmed or are familiar with farming.
Seeds are a precious commodity. It is not something that you spread on rocky ground or cast indiscriminately on the pathways throughout your garden or the roadside next to the roadside. Nor would you sow seeds in the midst of thistles. Yes, when you sow, be it by hand or by a machine, some seed will fall in those places, but it is not something that you do deliberately. What you do deliberately is sow seed in good ground. You sow it in those places where you know the seed has a chance not only to germinate and sprout, but to grow up into a healthy plant , one that will produce fruit.
But in today’s parable it seems that God has a different system of sowing. The incredible thing in the parable of the Sower is that the Seed is both offensive to those who think that they know how things should be done, and good news to those who have ears to hear the message is the liberality of the sower of the seed and the abundance of the harvest that is produced at harvest that far exceeds what could be reasonably expected even if all the seed landed in good soil.
Those who have ears, let them hear…..The seed in the parable of The Sower is the Word of God, it is the Word or the Message about God’s kingdom. And the Sower is God. But the seed is also the one who first tells us this story, the seed is Christ Jesus himself who as the scriptures tell us over and over again, came from God that we might have life and have it abundantly. The seed is the one whom we call the Living Word, the Word made flesh who came, while we were yet enemies of God and gave his life for us so that we might turn to God and live as God’s beloved children in a world and a heaven made new.
The seed is the one who tells us to do crazy things like love our enemies and to pray for those who offend and persecute us and to bless those who curse us. The seed is the one who accepts us and who wants to be planted deep in our hearts and to grow in our lives even if we think that we are not good enough to approach him and to ask him for his hope – his love -his strength – his joy.
While there may be a limit to what we can do in sowing the word, a limit to the energy and the love that we have for one another a limit that might cause us to try to sow in one place, but not in another, there is no limit to what God can do and what God does do; nor is there a limit to what we can do when the word of God is in our lives, working through us, growing in us as God wants it to.. “Those who have ears let them hear.” Let them hear that God is pouring himself out in abundance upon this world upon the rocky ground and the places that thistles grow, the pathways and the good soil and that at the end, when the final reckoning is made there will be an incredible harvest.
There will be a harvest so generous that the one who has sown so much seed so indiscriminately will be rewarded beyond anything one could reasonably hope for – even if all the soil had been good soil. Let them hear too that we should not hoard the seed that God has given to us to sow; let them hear that God’s purposes will not be frustrated if we waste a little bit of it here and there, that the word of God’s love and care that we manifest in our actions and our attitudes and the words we speak will not be lost if we give it freely to the those who may allow it to be snatched away, or choked out, or to wither away… it won’t be lost because the harvest that will come from all our acts of sowing the good news of Jesus Christ will be more, much more, than anyone can expect.
“As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the Sower and bread for the eater, so is my word that goes out from my mouth” said God through the prophet Isaiah in the first reading today. “My word will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.”
The purpose of God is the renewal of our lives, of our lives and of the life of the world. “You will go out in joy and be led forth in peace”, says God to his people Israel and to all of us here today. “the mountains and hills will burst into song before you, and all the trees of the field will clap their hands. Instead of the Thorn bush will grow the pine tree, and instead of briers the myrtle will grow. This will be for the Lord’s renown, for an everlasting sign, which will not be destroyed.”
God’s purpose is accomplished by God’s word, the word that created heaven and earth and which has been made flesh in Christ Jesus our Lord so that the sick might be healed, the captive set free, the poor receive good news and the dead restored to life. It is going to happen and we can be part of it – or not as we choose. But those of us who have chosen to receive the Word of God into our lives, those of us who have accepted Christ into our lives and who strive to grow in him and have him grow in us – let us not choose for others by denying to them what God has given to us, let us be wildly indiscriminate in how we share the good news, in how we love one another. This indeed is part of the harvest that good soil produces abundant seed for the sower to sow once again and grain that is more than enough for all who hunger.
They who have ears – let them hear. Amen