Presbyterian, Methodist, Church of Christ

Greymouth Uniting Church

The Sower and the seed

Readings: Psalm 119:97-112, Matthew 13:1-9, 18-23.

May we pray:    May the words of my mouth and the meditations of our hearts be acceptable unto you our Lord God and Saviour. Amen.

How often we have heard the words of the parables - how often we have nodded our head - sometimes in agreement - sometimes not really understanding the truth within them?

What is Jesus trying to tell us? What are the real messages for us? After all they were all written in a time when everything in the land was very different from ours today.

Yes, different but still the same. We are still filled with the knowledge and the sadness, of Jesus, because we know that God’s seed which is God’s Word, is not falling on GOOD soil.

It is not being heard and understood by enough of the people of our time, so it cannot bear fruit, it cannot yield a hundredfold, not sixty, not even thirty.

This is true, but thankfully, those of us who hear and obey are sufficient to keep God’s promises alive. Our work is to find more and more people to help to spread the Word, the Good News.

This is not impossible! We do this every day. We sow the good seeds by our example of Christian living with our family, with our friends, our workmates, our children’s schools and to the many other organisations we belong too. It seems to be so little but God knows and God sees that it is GOOD.

Our Christian faith carries us through the traumas of life and allows us to rejoice in the many blessings we receive in our troubled times. GOD IS GOOD AND HIS SEEDS ARE HIS WORDS TO US - the basis of our Christian faith.

His SEEDS bring us comfort and strength when we look with sadness at people we love who are nursing a sick partner or family member. As we look on with that awful feeling of helplessness as this is happening and when the Television, the Radio and the Newspapers scream at us about the atrocities that the people are committing against one another in our world today, our feelings of helplessness is intense.

The horrific things that we thought only happened in the past are no longer history, they are real, right now and for some people they are worse than we can ever imagine. God’s seeds, His Words, His presence gives us the strength we need to continue on.

This is why we have the Word, the seeds of the Holy Bible, God chose people to write down His words, which are our Scriptures, our life line to Jesus the Christ. The Jesus who died for us so that we can be forgiven of our sins - our sins, not Jesus sins, he has no sins.

We read His word to learn how to understand ourselves and how to, if not understand but at least to cope in the world we live in.

We have heard again the Parable of the Sower. We have seen some graphic pictures and sung words praising God for the beauty of his earth and of how we plough the fields and scatter the seeds which are the words.

Scholars throughout the ages, have studied the Parables asking questions: Why did Jesus speak this way? What is he trying to say to us?

I chose the work of Father Michael K Marsh and share some of his thoughts with you...

He begins with a story

Several years ago I spent a couple of days in Selma, Alabama. I stopped at a gas station at the edge of town to fill up before heading home. I went inside and walked over to the cashier. On the other side of the office an elderly black man was sitting in a chair against the wall. I looked at him and said hello. He just nodded and said, "Boss." He called me "boss." And then he started. "Forty cents a day I plowed dem fields boss. Forty cents a day!" Then he got louder. "Forty cents a day I tell you. Forty cents, boss!" Then he got his wallet out. Held up two one dollar bills. He was quiet, calculating. Then he began waving the two dollars and said, "This was five days of my life boss. Forty cents a day. Forty cents a day!" I was filled with lots of thoughts, questions, and feelings. I mostly kept silent; not really sure what to do, what to think or feel. I have often thought about him since that day. Today’s gospel makes me think about the ground on which he has walked.

I suspect he often walked the hard packed path of prejudice, a path where not much grows, where life and opportunities are too quickly snatched away. I’ll bet he knew what it was like to live between a rock and hard place. On the rocky ground life withers because you can’t put down roots. There’s no security or stability and the sun scorches. He surely walked amongst the thorns of violence, fear, anger, and poverty. I have no doubt that those thorns wrapped themselves around him and his family choking away dignity, security, trust. I hope the best soil that he walked through was not the forty cents a day soil that he plowed. I hope he stood in that dark rich soil that nourished life, love, and hope.

We may not have plowed fields for forty cents a day but we all know the different landscapes of which Jesus speaks. We know the beaten path of life. We’ve stumbled through the rocky patches of life. We have been scratched and cut by the thorns of life. And we have planted our roots deep in the sacred soil of life that feeds and grows us to become a harvest, in one case, a hundredfold, in another sixty, and in another thirty.

Parables are not easily understood, we have to look further than the story. This story is ridiculous when first read. We know a farmer would not work like this - he would not waste his seed. Farmers have to be efficient and use all that they have well, so that their soil will prosper and they will have sufficient for their families needs. The farmer in the story scattered the seed in a wasteful, inefficient and ineffective way. The people knew this. Jesus used familiar things to illustrate his messages.

So we need to search further and we find that: The Parables give us a sense of God’s grace that test our heart’s willingness to surrender to and be enveloped in the always surprising generosity of God. The surprising generosity of God is exactly what the parable of the sower reveals.

As different as the four soils are they all hold two things in common. Seeds and the sower. The sower, who is God, sows the same seeds in all four soils with equal toil, equal hope, and equal generosity. The sower does so without evaluation of the soil’s quality or potential. There is no soil left unsown. No ground is declared undeserving of the sower’s seeds. This is not about the quality of dirt. It’s about the quality of God, the divine sower. We want to judge what kind of dirt we are. God simply wants to sow his life in ours. Whether we are forty cents a day soil or $400 a day soil we are sown with the seeds of God. No life, no person, no soil is left unsown.

Seeds here. Seeds there. Seeds everywhere. That just seems like poor planning. Given today’s economy that’s just wasteful. By today’s farming practices it is inefficient. With the cost of seeds and the time spent sowing it may not even be profitable. These are not, however, the sower’s concerns. They are our concerns.

Thankfully this parable is about God’s faithfulness and not about farming, soil quality, or how things work in this world. In the sower’s world wastefulness gives way to hope, inefficiency to love, and profitability to generosity. Every part of your life has been sown with the seeds of God and you know what happens to seeds.

Given the right conditions apple seeds become apples. Peach seeds become peaches. God seeds become... God.

Hear then the parable of the sower!

May we pray:    Precious God, we have listened and we have heard. We thank you that we are blessed to receive your unconditional love and we go forward rejoicing that we can show you as the light of our loves. We give thanks in the name of your Son, Jesus the Christ. Amen.