By The Very Rev. Sherry Crompton
July 13, 2008

Read: Matthew 13:1-9, 18-23

The Parable of the Sower. This is probably a familiar parable to many of us and I don’t know about you, but when I heard this parable I automatically tried to figure out which kind of soil I am. There are slightly different ways to hear and see this parable…some see themselves as the sower, some as the seeds, and the most common way is to see ourselves as the soil.

That’s what I heard this time, when I read this parable. Jesus is the sower, God’s word or grace is the seed and we are the soil. So, what kind of soil am I? Am I rocky ground, are there all kinds of birds hovering around me snatching away the seed, am I thorny soil or am I truly good soil?

What is happening in my life right now? Because I believe we are all of these soil conditions at different points in our life. Sometimes we just completely miss what God is trying to tell us, sometimes we hear God’s voice and act quickly, but then give up when things don’t turn out the exact way we want them to. We think we know what God wants. Sometimes we allow the worldly influences to crowd out and diminish God’s voice in our lives. And, sometimes, we hear God’s voice, we act on it, we allow our actions to grow and flourish without trying to control the outcome ourselves, because it is God who causes the growth, and then we bear glorious fruit. Fruit that contains new seed.

So where am I? Where are you? And is that really what this parable is saying to us? Maybe this isn’t entirely about us and our own successes and failures and birds and rocks and thorns but about the extravagance of a sower who doesn’t seem to be fazed by such concerns, who flings seeds everywhere, wastes it with holy abandon, who feeds the birds, whistles at the rocks, picks his way through the thorns, shouts hallelujah at the good soil and just keeps on sowing, confident that there is enough seed to go around, that there is plenty, and that when the harvest comes at last it will fill every barn in the neighborhood to the rafters.

We wouldn’t do it that way, of course. If we were in charge, we would devise a more efficient operation, a neater, cleaner, more productive one that didn’t waste seed on birds and rocks and thorns, but concentrated only on the good soil and what we could make it do. But if this is the parable of the sower, then Jesus seems to be suggesting that there is another way to go about things, a way that is less concerned with judgment and productivity, than with plentitude.

“Once upon a time a sower went out to sow. And as he sowed some seeds fell along the path, and the birds came along and devoured them. So he put his seed pouch down and spent the next hour or so stringing aluminum foil all around his field. He put up a fake owl he ordered from a garden catalog and, as an afterthought, he hung a couple of traps for the Japanese beetles.

Then he returned to his sowing, but he noticed some of the seeds were falling on rocky ground, so he put his seed pouch down again and went to fetch his wheelbarrow and shovel. A couple of hours later he had dug up the rocks and was trying to think of something useful he could do with them when he remembered his sowing and got back to it, but as soon as he did he ran right into a briar patch that was sure to strangle his little seedlings. So he put his pouch down again and looked everywhere for the weed poison but finally decided just to pull the thorns up by hand, which meant that he had to go back inside and look everywhere for his gloves.

Now by the time he had the briars cleared it was getting dark, so the sower picked up his pouch and his tools and decided to call it a day. That night he fell asleep in his chair reading a seed catalog, and when he woke the next morning he walked out into his field and found a big crow sitting on his fake owl. He found rocks he had not found the day before and he found new little leaves on the roots of the briars that had broken off in his hands. The sower considered all of this, pushing his cap back on his head, and then he did a strange thing: he began to laugh, just a chuckle at first and then a full-fledged guffaw that turned into a wheeze at the end when his wind ran out.

Still laughing and wheezing he went after his seed pouch and began flinging seeds everywhere: into the roots of trees, onto the roof of his house, across all his fences and into his neighbors’ fields. He shook seeds at his cows and offered a handful to the dog; he even tossed a fistful into the creek, thinking they might take root downstream somewhere. The more he sowed, the more he seemed to have. None of it made any sense to him, but for once that didn’t seem to matter, and he had to admit that he had never been happier in all his life”.   (Barbara Brown Taylor)

Let those who have ears to hear, hear. Amen.

Copyright 2008-2012 Episcopal Church of the Trinity.

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