Summary: A short, challenging, all-age talk given at a harvest festival service.
I love the ‘Mr. Men’ books by Roger Hargreaves! I also enjoy reading the ‘Little Miss’ books too, but my favourite has to be Mr Greedy. A few years ago it was the children’s book that I read more than any other and as a result it’s required a lot of sticky tape to hold it together. I particularly like the story of Mr Greedy because it’s one of those Mr. Men books where he has an encounter with something (or in this case someone) and he becomes a changed Mr. Man. He starts to live differently. He is transformed. He is a changed Mr. Man!
This morning we’ve heard a lot in our worship service about where our food comes from, and where our friends in other countries get their food from. If we came this morning taking for granted the wonderful food we have, then I hope we will leave with hearts thankful and grateful to God. I hope we will leave as a changed Mr. Man, or a changed ‘Little Miss’.
Part of the mission of Jesus was to draw all peoples to himself (John 12:32). In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth (Genesis 1:1). Right at the start of the Bible Moses tells us about creation. God said, “Let the land produce vegetation: seed-bearing plants and trees on the land that bear fruit with seed in it” …and it was so …and God saw that it was good (Genesis 1: 11-12). The mountains of Scotland, the valleys of Wales, the amazing detail on a butterfly, the wonder of a new born baby – all from God’s heart.
When Jesus told the story of a farmer who went out to sow his seed (Luke 8:5) a large crowd was gathering. People were coming to hear Jesus from many towns (8:4). They believed in God, and they didn’t doubt that God has a plan for his world. (God has a perfect plan for each one of us; a perfect plan for you and for me.) The crowd wanted to know God better; but many did not realise that Jesus was telling them and showing them what God is really like. He still does that today!
The parables – stories – Jesus told are not always easy to understand. Sometimes we need to think carefully about them and so Jesus said, “If you’ve got ears, listen” (8:8)! In other words, don’t turn your brain off. Instead, think this through and then do something about it!
Two weeks ago we shared good news and sad news stories about the sunflower seeds which many of us planted earlier in the year. Some seeds took root and some did not. Some plants grew strong and others did not. One seed was eaten before it could even be planted (Chris) and that event may be more profound than we first realised!
God is constantly sowing his word, his truth, his Son Jesus, His transforming presence into our lives. How we do we respond to God? The farmer scattered his seed. Some fell on a path (8:5). Can you imagine walking the path to school and scattering seeds? They get trodden on and birds come and eat them.
The seed is the word of God (8:11) and there are people who are like the path; unreceptive and unbelieving. If I were to create a new Mr. Man this one could be Mr. ‘in one ear and out the other’. I get lots of post and a lot of it ends up in our recycling bin. Once I think I threw away tickets to Lego land because in my haste I thought they were rubbish. I was in a rush. I didn’t think about what I was doing.
The seed is the word of God (8:11). There are people who are like the rocky ground, hearing the message of Jesus with great joy initially (8:13), but without sufficient soil and moisture the plant soon withers. Life might be great one moment but tough and terrible the next and without strong roots of faith I have known too many people to fall away from their initial joy. Jesus is not to be followed as if he adds value or as if he is a life-enhancing commodity like the beauty products advertised on the television. He is to be followed because he shows us what God is really like.
Through good times and tough times God is good, but if we have no root to our faith it will not last. In Mr. Man terms it would be Mr. ‘fair-weather commitment’.
The seed is the word of God (8:11) and there are people who are like the seed that fell amongst thorns. These people hear and respond to Jesus (8:14) but their faith gets choked and eventually killed off by “life’s worries, riches and pleasures, and they do not mature.” When Jesus talks about “life’s worries, riches and pleasures” I hope we know what he means.