Sunday 16 July 2023

 “Going to Seed”  (Matt 13:1-9. 18-23)

Parables can be an incredible way of teaching.  Scriptures show us how time and time again, Jesus would use a simple story to provide a glimpse of something profound about God.  And most of the time, parables are not explained, we are invited to figure out for ourselves “what was that all about?”  We must scratch our heads and consider what does this story say to me?   And we may well find different meaning at different times.  Parables are vivid, memorable stories, often we “feel” them with our senses before we understand them with our minds.  They are pieces of art that we can look at and then look at again and each time see something different.   (Are there any farmers or gardeners here today? Already we have a sense of what Jesus is talking about.)


In Jesus’ story he speaks of seeds and here we have an image of God as a reckless planter, scattering seeds like a child blowing on a puffy dandelion…the little seeds blowing in all directions…God not giving a thought to where they will land…if they will take root or grow, blowing on it regardless, in the process dotting the landscape with flowery weeds that will pop up in droves in unexpected and difficult places. 

This passage shows us how God gardens in a different way than humans.  When we take the time to plant something we take a lot of care in making sure the soil will be receptive. We take into account the amount of sunlight, the acidity of the soil, the amount of water needed. We don’t want to waste seed, space, or time. But God just lavishly scatters seeds. God throws seeds all around. There are God seeds just everywhere. Some will grow and some will not, but God just keeps scattering good news, blowing dandelions, knowing that they will spread and grow and change the look and shape of the landscape.  If your lawn is like mine- weeds seem to be every where!

Notice how God isn’t stingy in anyway. God doesn’t assess our worthiness before scattering seeds of love, grace, and mercy. God throws them all around. I wonder if we shouldn’t be a little more like that. We judge the soil, prepare it, and alter the soil. We dig, fertilize, and water, and then if the timing is right and the weather is favorable we gingerly place the seed in the ground. And then we take a great deal of pride in whatever harvest we get. But God doesn’t garden like that. God lavishly, foolishly, wastefully throws the seed of Word, grace, mercy, and love, everywhere. Miraculously, the results God gets, the harvest God produces is tremendous. In Jesus’ day a farmer, on a good year might expect a four or five fold return, but Jesus says the return from God’s method is thirty, sixty, one hundred fold—an incredible harvest that would more than provide for the farmer and his family.

I wonder if we should try God’s way of planting for a change. I wonder if we shouldn’t just throw around some seeds of mercy, grace, and love even if the soil doesn’t appear to be that receptive to them. I wonder if we might not be surprised by the harvest, its bounty and location. No doubt birds will eat some and thorns choke others but maybe that is not our concern. Maybe we should just keep on lavishly, foolishly, wastefully, even, scattering the seed of God’s word…seeds that contain the makings of good news and forgiveness…seeds that will inevitably produce a huge harvest…seeds that will change the look and feel and shape of the whole landscape once they take root…seeds that have the potential to feed the masses…seeds that will ultimately make beautiful the most desolate of places. God scatters these seeds…everywhere, and maybe we should, too.

I picture God blowing puffy dandelions, thrilled as they float and land and take root and spread in the most unexpected places, just weeds to many but treasured flowers to little children and others foolish enough to take notice of them—foolish enough to pick them and give them away—foolish enough to make wishes and blow them in the wind. God doesn’t judge the state of the soil, its worthiness or potential, God just lavishly, foolishly, wastefully scatters the seeds of God’s grace, mercy, and love, delighting in giving them away because God knows the harvest will be awesome, and incredible. God knows that it will change the whole landscape. God knows that those seeds will take root and make beautiful the most unexpected places, popping up like dandelions thriving despite birds and rocks and thorns…implanting in people’s hearts and producing fruit in even the most barren of places.  (Bring out dandelions.) 

Maybe, just maybe, we should, blow on a few more dandelions; wastefully throw around some small pieces of promise. Maybe, just maybe we shouldn’t worry so much about the state of the soil. Maybe, just maybe, we should trust the power that created it, the one who put power within the seed and just go out and delight in the throwing. Maybe, just maybe, the world will listen and be transformed.

The good news is, that there is no one right way of to share the faith.  As we embrace the parable for our lives, let us consider ourselves as being the sower.  The seed then becomes the ways in which we try to live a meaningful and faithful life in this world.  Think about your efforts at making a living, raising a family, the time you have invested in trying to do something worthwhile.  These are like seeds that we have sown, some which succeed and some of which don’t.  Some seeds fall on good ground and something it falls amidst the rocks and the thorns. 

The Parable calls us to be realistic.  To accept that we win some and we lose some.  We do and will experience good days and bad days.  We can control what we do, but we can not control the results of what we do.  Sometimes, no matter how hard we work, no matter how sincere we are, no matter how efficient we are, we are going to run into dead ends and thing re not going to come out as we planned our hoped.  We are to sow the seed, do our best and leave the rest up to God.  Faithfulness is found in the sowing, the sharing, the taking a risk that something good might happen, just because of a simple small act that we might do, like planning a seed. 

Implied in the parable is another question for all of us;  “If life is that way, why do you persist in expecting success from all your efforts?”  There is no contract that guarantees success, if we adopt the kind of mindset that we have not done something “right” to get what we’ve got, then maybe we can begin to see life in new way.  (then maybe we’re open to grace) The passage does not explain why things go wrong, why there are infertile, unproductive soils.  In the Bible evil is not explained; it remains a mystery.  The parable assumes that some things will go wrong, not all seed will take root. But there too, is good news.  Good seed is not held only for good soil.  God’s grace and blessings are everywhere.  God makes efforts in all places, and so should we.  

At St. Martin’s Presbyterian Church, we are interested in growing our church.  The vision statement says so very nicely.  “St. Martin’s is an inclusive Christian congregation, sharing in the love of Christ, building one another up in joyful faith, reaching out in love to people around and beyond us, and encouraging care for God’s creation. 

Wanting to grow in mission.  You have a good thing and you don’t want to keep it just for yourselves.  There will be many things that we try in the times to come, some may be glorious failures and flash in pan, some may never take off, some may lead to tremendous growth.  As people of faith, part of our identity is to be sowers of seeds, people willing to take the risk of planting where things may or may not grow, for that foolish risk is faith in action.  It says yes, I believe something good will happen here.

The parable shows us we should not focus our questions of why do some things go wrong, but rather on why do something succeed?  Where do good things come from, if it is not us then who?  That points us to GOD!! We are sowers and some things in our control will fail and other things will succeed, and sometimes beyond our imagination, and always beyond our deserving some seed will take root and grow.  We are the sower – that’s all.  We can only do so much and we will only succeed only so often.  But that’s OK in fact that is the way it’s supposed to be.  God is in charge of the rest.  No matter how hard we try we can not get rid of chaos, we can not bring order into mystery.  We are called to go seed, and to trust in the Creator.  Amen.