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The Sower and the Seed, July 23rd 2017, the Time after Pentecost

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Time after Pentecost July 23rd 2017

Isaiah 55:10-13 Psalm 65: [1-8]9-13 Rom 8:1-11 Matt 13:1-9,18-23

The Sower and the Seed

The Parable Song:

1. Let’s pray for God’s help again,

So no birds come snatch us away.

Let’s pray for God’s help again,

So the sun won’t scorch us by day.

2. Help move those rocks all around,

Sink your roots deep in the ground.

The choke-holds of thorns break apart,

Let the Spirit’s breath fill your heart.

3. The sower and the seed that is sown

Make Christ’s new garden your own

Filled with Christ’s fruit, oh, amen.

Let’s pray for God’s people again.

4. Now yield a bold hundred-fold

With ventures of faith yet untold.

Christ prays for the harvest, amen.

Let’s pray for God’s help again.

I’ll back to that interpretation of this Jesus parable. But I heard an interpretation that was very new to me. It could be called the prodigal sower, because farmers didn’t waste seed, and this sower seems to waste it on many of the wrong people.

Someone said to me, “You have to cast your bread on the waters.” I did not know what that meant and I found it in the bible, in the book of Ecclesiastes or the Preacher 11:1: “Cast your bread upon the waters, for after many days you will get it back.” That must be somewhat like karma, what goes around, comes around. It seems to be a waste of your bread (although when the kids threw slices of bread in the water during Day Camp, fish would jump up, snatch, and swallow it to the delight of the children.)

Now I’ve heard this parable interpreted in a similar way to casting your bread upon the waters: Jesus may well have been casting the Word of his Kingdom, his seed upon the waters, because it seemed a waste. He was getting all kinds of rejection; rejection from the scribes and Pharisees, from his own mother and family, who thought he had lost his mind.

But Jesus the Sower in this parable continues to cast his seed, his words of the kingdom of heaven even if some is snatched up by birds right away, some falls on the path, some gets scorched by the sun, some falls on rocks and can’t take root, some get their dear life choked out of them by weeds, like bad people they hang out with, and lo and behold, some seeds fall on good soil and bear fruit: 30 fold, 60 fold, and 100 fold.

So you see, this parable is about you and me. Understanding the kingdom of heaven makes you grow and mature and finally become a Christ. Sometimes I compare becoming a Christ to football. Each play, you know, could be a touchdown. Each of us could become a Christ. But we get sacked way behind the line of scrimmage, you make a few yards and get tackled, throw a pass and the receiver misses it, but then you suddenly see a player go the whole nine yards or even 90 yards for the touchdown – a person has become a Christ saving any number of people.

God’s Word does not return empty for all the obstacles that the world places in its way, even when snatched away by birds. But just think, birds can poop it out fertilized and the kingdom starts growing somewhere else, not in that field, but outside this church, say in your office where you work, in the supermarket where you shop, in the laundromat where you are doing your wash, in a demonstration where you make a politician take a stand saving the healthcare for millions of people.

This is the parable of the sower and the seed. Jesus talks about seeds, because they are baptized. This is what I mean by the seeds being batized. You have to plant a seed in a hole in the ground, like burying it in a grave, and then it bears much fruit. We set apart our lives, becoming buried in our baptisms, bringing new life and healing and help to many, many people because of it.

Now a seed is set aside, because you have to deny yourself. You can’t eat it. Think of Psalm 126:5-6: “Those who sowed with tears will reap with songs of joy. Those who go out weeping, carrying the seed, will come again with joy, bringing in the sheaves.” The sower is crying over the seeds, because they are starving, but can’t eat the seeds or there will be no harvest.

Now here is the good news: consider one kernel of corn. You set it aside for a seed, plant it in the ground, water it, and tend it, and soon a shoot comes up out of the ground, much like a blade of grass. Then it grows and grows into a sturdy stalk with two or three sets of ears and when the silk up on top of the ear is dry, it is ripe and ready for picking. Lo and behold, have you ever counted the kernels of corn on one corncob? We had one left over from the other night. It was ¾ size and I counted 540 kernels! Now with six ears of corn, you have over 3,000 kernels from that one kernel that got baptized into a seed by being planted in the ground instead of being eaten.

Now you may think corn is something! Imagine an acorn that falls into good soil and grows up into an oak tree, say here in Oakland. It will bear many more acorns than that kernel of corn, which only grows that one plant or stock that year. The oak tree will bear huge numbers of acorns each year.

Can you see why Jesus scatters the seed, the word about the kingdom of heaven, from one village to the next, from city to city. The words certainly do not get planted well in many ways, but when it gets into some good soil, when it takes root and bears fruit, people enter the kingdom 30-fold, 60-fold, a hundred-fold at a time.

All that fruit is more than enough to provide for the sinners as well, those snatched by the birds, left on the path, scorched by the sun, choked by the weeds. The fruit borne by those in the good soil nourishes everybody or at least a good many with plenty of redemption, abundant grace.

So even if some people cannot be productive, they are covered by those producing fruit from the good soil. I often think of the woman who had MS that I visited in the hospital. She had become completely debilitated. She said, “Will you tell everybody that even though I can’t be productive, I still have value?” The abundant fruit of the seeds of the good soil provides for her too.

That’s why in health insurance, those who are productive have to cover those who have pre-existent conditions. The acorns from one oak tree can grow a whole forest.

So even if it seems that Jesus is willing to waste seeds, which no farmer would do at the time, he knows what he is doing. Some of it will take root and then watch how a whole new chapter of God’s Word opens and new blessings shower down from heaven over the people God loves so much, because:

Each play in football can be a touchdown.

Each kernel of corn planted and you have 3,000 kernels.

One acorn, and an oak tree bursting with thousands of acorns each year.

Acorns fed the Ohlone Indians for centuries as they used pestles to grind them in mortars, those round holes in the rocks. You can see those holes in rocks up above Indian Rock in Berkeley.

Now I ask you, what can one person bring, who takes root, with the Word of God deep in their heart, understanding it. We can’t even imagine it.

The parables that Jesus tells are about the kingdom. And he tends to flip things around from how the world thinks. Farmers do not waste seed. Jesus wastes the seeds. Flip a crime around and you get a miracle, a valley and you get a mountain. In our bible study, they called it mind-flip. People are capable of horrendous crimes: we can’t even fathom the abyss of evil. But flip it around, by God’s grace, people are capable of doing miracles, mountains of goodness, more than sufficient to overwhelm those valleys of evil. Because no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor heart been able to imagine, what God can do for those who love him and are called to his purpose.

Now we should not use this parable to label and Pidgeon-hole different people facing these particular problems. People snatched away by birds, by the fads of the day; on the path, to hurried to even live their lives; scorched by the sun, because of too much heat in the kitchen; on the rocks, just cannot muster up any more empathy; choked by all the cares and hardships of the world; no, these are all stages that we all go through. Sometimes our hearts are on the rocks. Sometimes we get snatched away from what God wants us to do and how God wants us to be. Sometimes we hang with the wrong people and we forget how much God loves us and how we have to bear fruit, because of the grace of God flowing through us.

And our fruit has to spill over outside of this church called Bethlehem. You have to spread the word of the kingdom where the birds can snatch it, on the path, where nothing grows, where people are scorched by rage, where you know there are rocks and weeds that choke the dear life out of others. But your seed will also hit fertile soil and wow! You and I can’t even imagine what can happen here!

So, we sing:  Let’s pray for God’s help again! Amen.

 

 

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Written by peterkrey

July 17, 2017 at 12:58 am

Posted in Uncategorized

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