Genesis 25:19-34 Romans 8:1-11 Matthew 13:1-9, 1-23
The word gospel means good news. Good news brings us Joy. We are living in a time when we need good news and joy. We are trying to get through the pandemic and return to life as “normal” as the community opens up again. But we still have the worry of second waves and more illness as we are seeing in many parts of the United States and our world. There are others concerns and worries from violence, corruption and extreme hot weather. We as Christians and people of faith have good news to share and we can find comfort in the words of Jesus, if we look closely.
Today for our gospel we have the Parable of the Sower. This is a story of divine extravagance. Jesus looks out at a crowd and tells this story. A sower goes out to sow, some seeds fall on the path, and the birds come and quickly eat them up. Other seeds fall on rocky ground, where they spring up quickly but wither when the sun burns their shallow roots. Other seeds fall among thorns and are choked. Still other seeds fall on good soil and bring forth abundant grain. Now when I hear or read this parable, I usually focus on the types of ground the seeds fall upon. We can use it to think about how our church’s message of love and forgiveness reaches different people. How it is heard for awhile then forgotten in most kinds of ground. So it can be kind of depressing when we read it like that. Or I can think of my own life and wonder what kind of soil am I really. I hope to be the good soil which helps God’s love grow and spread from me. But I can think maybe my soil is hard and birds eat it up, or it takes root for awhile then is burned up by the sun or choked by the weeds. There is nothing wrong in looking at the Parable of the Sower this way, because it helps us prepare and change and try to be better soil through prayer, study and worship. These are good things. However, there is another way to read this parable. We have to remember it is not called the Parable of four types of soil. It is the parable of the Sower. It is a Parable about the nature and character of God. It is about God’s kingdom, God’s provision and God’s extravagant generosity when it comes to us, his beloved creations. The sower as Jesus describes it, goes out and the seeds fall everywhere. Everywhere. Picture this, the sower spreads the seeds across fields, back alleys, sidewalks, playgrounds, parking lots of this world. There is no way to sort or save it. It spreads everywhere. The interesting thing is the Sower does not mind. The sower does not care where it falls or lands or settles. The sower continues to keep sowing. Keeps flinging. Keeps opening his hands. Why? because there is enough seed to go around. There is enough seed to accomplish the sower’s purpose. It is like the sower is God and is walking around the terrains of our lives. The truth is I am much stingier than God is. Sometimes I don’t believe there is enough good news to go around. I don’t think every kind of soil can benefit from the seed. I don’t think God’s love will go out and do its purposes no matter where it lands. The truth is God can soften hard ground, clear away rocks, and cut through stubborn thorns to make way for a harvest. I have to realize this great truth. The truth is all the terrain is under God’s provision and sustained by God’s love. Who am I to tell God the creator what good soil looks like. Who am I to decide who is worthy and who is not of the sower’s generosity. Who am I to hoard what i have been given ? Who am I to call God’s reckless spreading and call it a waste. This is a challenge for me and for the church. How I wish the church was known for its absurd generosity. How i wish seeds of love, mercy, justice, humility, honour and truthfulness would fall through our fingers so that the birds, the rocks, the thorns, and the shallow sun scorched earth would burst into colourful, joyful life. In this time of sickness, scarcity, anxiety, suffering, and loss what does the world need more than a sower who is lavish? A sower who errs on the side of wastefulness? A Sower who would rather lose a bunch of seeds to inhospitable terrain then withhold a single one.
The thing about this Parable is that we do see its wisdom. We know Jesus is telling us the truth. We know that seeds are mysterious . We know that well cultivated gardens can fail and flowers can push up through cracks in pavement. We know that joy follows from selflessness and generosity, not caution and miserliness. The problem is we are sometimes unwilling to follow in the footsteps of the extravagant sower. His carefree generosity worries us. His wastefulness offends us. Why won’t he discriminate? Why won’t he wait and withhold at least a little bit ? Why won’t he be more giving to the terrain that is more deserving? Jesus wants to tells us that the Sower or God is not like that. There is the sower tossing seeds to the wind with a daring and delighted smile on his face, inviting us to toss our own handfuls across the earth and share his joy. The challenge of this parable is will we be extravagant with our love, time and resources to share the joy of our faith with all kinds of people, the worthy, the unworthy, the hard of heart, those tangled in complicated situations. This is what Jesus calls us to and we will not know where it will lead us. This is our message for today and always.