10 For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return there until they
have watered the earth, making it bring forth and sprout, giving seed to the sower and
bread to the eater, 11 so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not
return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and succeed in the thing
for which I sent it. 12 For you shall go out in joy, and be led back in peace; the
mountains and the hills before you shall burst into song, and all the trees of the field
shall clap their hands. 13 Instead of the thorn shall come up the cypress; instead of the
brier shall come up the myrtle; and it shall be to the LORD for a memorial, for an
everlasting sign that shall not be cut off. (NRSV)
1 That same day Jesus went out of the house and sat beside the sea. 2 Such great crowds
gathered around him that he got into a boat and sat there, while the whole crowd stood on
the beach. 3 And he told them many things in parables, saying: "Listen! A sower went
out to sow. 4 And as he sowed, some seeds fell on the path, and the birds came and ate
them up. 5 Other seeds fell on rocky ground, where they did not have much soil, and they
sprang up quickly, since they had no depth of soil. 6 But when the sun rose, they were
scorched; and since they had no root, they withered away. 7 Other seeds fell among thorns,
and the thorns grew up and choked them. 8 Other seeds fell on good soil and brought forth
grain, some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty. 9 Let anyone with ears listen!"
10 Then the disciples came and asked him, "Why do you speak to them in
parables?" 11 He answered, "To you it has been given to know the secrets of the
kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been given. 12 For to those who have, more will
be given, and they will have an abundance; but from those who have nothing, even what they
have will be taken away. 13 The reason I speak to them in parables is that 'seeing they do
not perceive, and hearing they do not listen, nor do they understand.' 14 With them indeed
is fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah that says: 'You will indeed listen, but never
understand, and you will indeed look, but never perceive. 15 For this people's heart has
grown dull, and their ears are hard of hearing, and they have shut their eyes; so that
they might not look with their eyes, and listen with their ears, and understand with their
heart and turn -- and I would heal them.' 16 But blessed are your eyes, for they see, and
your ears, for they hear. 17 Truly I tell you, many prophets and righteous people longed
to see what you see, but did not see it, and to hear what you hear, but did not hear it.
18 "Hear then the parable of the sower. 19 When anyone hears the word of the kingdom
and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what is sown in the
heart; this is what was sown on the path. 20 As for what was sown on rocky ground, this is
the one who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy; 21 yet such a person has
no root, but endures only for a while, and when trouble or persecution arises on account
of the word, that person immediately falls away. 22 As for what was sown among thorns,
this is the one who hears the word, but the cares of the world and the lure of wealth
choke the word, and it yields nothing. 23 But as for what was sown on good soil, this is
the one who hears the word and understands it, who indeed bears fruit and yields, in one
case a hundredfold, in another sixty, and in another thirty." (NRSV)
Sermon - The Sower, the Seeds, and the Soil
I love to garden, I like the sensation of sticking my hands in the dirt and putting in the
seeds and I even like the waiting to see if the seeds will come up. Most of all, I like
the harvest. Whether it is food or flowers, it never ceases to amaze me. What a wonderful
world God has created. You can take a tiny seed that amounts to nothing and with the right
conditions, it will grow and grow and grow and produce beyond our imagination. And then
it gets even better if you are patient, you can harvest one more time, the
seeds that send the cycle on it way again.
But really, this happens in nature all the time. Seeds mature, fall to the ground,
germinate and grow large and strong. Then after their fruit is finished, new seeds grow in
its place and fall to the ground and the life cycle continues.
This is an ordinary event. So is our gardening it is
Ordinary. It happens all of the time all over the world. from the grandmother who
gardens with a spoon and a plastic pot, to the great wheat fields of the Midwest. From the
tomato plant in a pot on a balcony in New York City to the rough handmade tools used in a
small plot in Cameroon.
Jesus knew that it was a concept that we all understand. It happens every where all
of the time. And we witness it, and we participate in it. There is no mystery here.
Or is there.
This year, in a pot that I have had for years with a lemon grass root, that produces
abundantly every summer, but dies back to nothing over the winter there are 2
interlopers. Side by side 2 plants that I have never been able to grow from seed.
Right there beside the larger plant, flourishes an impatient, complete with a tiny bud,
and even more of a surprise, a healthy, very healthy, basil plant.
I just keep watering them, praying that I wont do anything to disturb their growth.
Ordinary plants, but, they sure did surprise me.
Surprises were what Jesus was talking about when he used parables to explain about the
Kingdom of God to his followers. Think of it, right after Jesus began his ministry crowds
started following him throughout Galilee. Because Jesus would heal them and he would
proclaim the good news - that the kingdom of heaven was in their midst. Imagine their
surprise, - the people who were following Jesus were not the rich and powerful, but the
ordinary people, the one who couldnt quite manage on their own they were the
ones who were sick and needed care, they ewer the ones without enough food to eat, or a
place to sleep. Imagine their surprise when they heard that the Kingdom of Heaven was all
around them. They had been taught that heaven was far away heaven was after death
heaven was Gods perfect place how could the kingdom be right here
all around them? So, Jesus taught. He taught them how to behave and how to believe.
He taught them how to pray and how to love. And still they said what do you mean
that the kingdom heaven is right here. And Jesus continued to heal and preach and the
crowds continued to grow. And the people continued to say Jesus - how could
the kingdom be right here? how can we be sure of who you are - give us a sign that you are
the one is sent from God.
And Jesus said you have seen all that I have done and that isnt sign
enough? So then he began to teach in parables. Parables are ordinary and simple
stories that make sense on many levels. And he said to them you have been given the
secrets. The kingdom of God is like this
Just like those followers, we are the hearers who want to understand and Jesus
tries to explain it all for us, the kingdom of God is like this: there is a sower, who
throws out seed and depending on the soil, will get a good harvest or none at all. And in
our mind, we want to say, Jesus is the sower, the word of God is the seed and our hearts
are the soil. Because that would be easy, we would really be off the hook. The
responsibility would fall on God.
But if there is one thing I know about God and about our faith its never as simple
as we might first imagine. It is rarely easy. And we are never off the hook.
Who is the sower? What is the seed, where is the soil?
Some days you and I become sowers of the seed. Other days, we are the seeds that have been
sown. Still other times, we are the soil on which the seed falls.
When over 10 years ago, Kathy Taylor and Glynnis Gilbert and Joan Jones started baby
Bundles, I doubt that they saw themselves as seed sowers. But today, this vibrant mission
of our Church serves nearly 100 infants, and works in conjunction with the VNA, Social
Services, and New Milford Hospital to provide for these infants needs. They were sowers,
and the seed fell on fertile ground.
Years ago, some kids from this church Valerie Tutson and Betty Camp and Wendi Cook started
a program called Sing Praise at silver lake - our denominations Summer Camp. In one week
middle school kids, write and produce a Christian Musical. Tons of kids from this Church
have gone to Sing Praise over the year and loved it. Sing Praise has even come to our
Church to present their program. I went to Silver Lake on Friday night, to see their
production and what did I find there seeds Not only Valerie Tutson,
Don and Nan Tutsons daughter, but also, Gretchen Kamm and Caroline Nicholas as adult
counselors. These are kids who grew up here, attended sing praise and now are apart of
producing the harvest of the children who will grow into faith filled Christians. They
have become Seeds!
I dont think that any of the folks who work with our children, teaching Church
school or advise the youth groups would see themselves as the soil in this story, but yet
they are they have heard the word of God and they are putting it into action. They
are taking what they know about God and Jesus and their faith and using it as the
foundation on which they direct the youth groups. Their compassion, and understanding and
acceptance of our young people is what will lead our youth to return to Church as adults.
They will be bringing their families back to Church kids in tow, because they will
remember the gift that they received as a child. They will be the ones who will be sitting
in a meeting in 20 years, saying, When I was a kid in Sunday school or youth group...
We are in our ordinary and every day lives, the sower, the seeds and the soil. We
take our faith and bring the kingdom of God into view, right here and now. And the yield
will be great; thirty fold, sixty fold, a hundred fold!
And - This is the key to the whole passage. In the USA today, with the benefit of science,
fertilizer, machinery, chemicals, the harvest at best might be 30 fold. With great effort,
we get the smallest harvest that Jesus expects in his kingdom. With our ordinary lives
lived in faith, by watching out for other people, by spreading the word, by living the
commandment to love others, by letting our faith be visible, we will bring about the
kingdom of God. Our ordinary efforts will produce great fruit. Even a hundred fold.
We are the sowers, the seed and the soil . And by Gods grace, we harvest new
seeds, create fresh soil and commission sowers again and again. By our efforts and by
Gods grace the cycle of faith goes on.
There are people who want to say we are in a post Christian Era We
dont have to be because we have all that we need to change that. We have been
given by God the resources, the intelligence, the finances, the energy, the time, the
love, the compassion, the gentleness, the understanding and Gods grace we
have all that we need.
So, lets get started
Lets be sowers - we have 2 new babies here, baptized into the faith. Families that are
here, ready to become soil, we can become the sowers of the faith
Lets become the seeds we have people in our community that need our help - lets
reach out to change their lives.
Let us become the soil there are people who are struggling and searching for faith
and we can invite them to come here, and to share our faith.
And then watch the harvest grow and watch Gods grace form the seeds of tomorrows