Summary: Jesus doesn't just plant the seeds of the kingdom and then disappear. He sticks with us for the long haul. He nurtures the seeds of faith and helps us to grow.
Don't you just love a baptism?
You have the beautiful little baby, the parents and God parents making promises to both child and God. And you have the water and the word. God promising to adopt this child into his family and make him or her his own.
There's a lot of stuff going on in a baptism, and this morning our texts remind us of God's role in baptism. How God is like a sower of seeds, and we are like the soil. We are the recipients of God's gracious faith building work within us.
Faith is indeed a gift from God that no one can earn or produce on his own. Yet once the seed of faith is planted, we do have some choices about how or whether it will grow within us.
Literal soil doesn't have much choice about its receptivity to the seeds. Sandy soil is sandy soil and that's all it will ever be. Weedy soil is weedy soil and that is all it will ever be. And rich fertile soil is rich and fertile soil and that is how it shall ever be. But we as the soil into which God sows the seeds of faith, have all kinds of decisions we can make about how receptive we are. We can be fertile soil one day, only to be weedy and rocky the next. We can make some pretty weighty decisions about how we respond to God's faith building work within us.
Little Kayla looks pretty innocent this morning and indeed she is. She has more faith than anyone in this room. She is pure rich fertile soil. She is totally open to the sower of faith and the blessing he wishes to bestow upon her.
At one time, we too were all like little Kayla. But what happens as we make our journey? Do we not lose that receptivity? That openness to God's faith building work within us?
I am reminded of little Jimmy who was learning how to write his name “JimE”. He got so excited about it, that with magic markers, he wrote his name on the living room wall in great big letters. His mother asked him, “Jimmy, did you write your name on the wall?” Jimmy replied, “Did you see me write my name on the wall?”
Who teaches us to come up with such clever answers? Do we not teach ourselves? Isn't that all part of human nature? We might start off as perfectly rich, fertile soil, but it doesn't take long and the weeds and rocks begin to appear.
And what can we do about that? What can we do to make ourselves better soil so that the seeds of faith might grow and flourish?
One of the things we can do is nurture the seeds of faith, and stop nurturing the seeds of the weeds!
We live in a culture that does not take sin very seriously. And yet, when you look at the price people are willing to pay for their bad habits, it's very hard not to believe in sin.
It was only nine years ago that this country and the whole world came dangerously close to a economic melt down. Realtors and bankers had engaged in unsafe lending practices that resulted in the economic collapse of huge financial institutions such and Leeman Brothers and Merril Lynch. It was the same kind of foolishness that causes a four year old to write his name on the living room wall. Only these deeds of greed were were performed not by little children, but by men and women with PhDs and five hundred dollar suits. When asked to account for their irresponsible behavior, these people said, “Did you see me do it?”
The seeds of sin are present in each of us, but God in his mercy gives us a wonderful way to starve out these seeds. In our baptism, we hear of Sunday school and confirmation, youth group and worship. We hear of the fellowship of the saints, communion and prayer. These are all good habits that God can use to grow faith within us, and starve out the weeds.
But here again, God asks for a response from us. Which seeds are we feeding? The seeds of the gospel, or the seeds sown by that other guy?
We can nourish the good seeds and starve out the bad.
And secondly, we can remember that Jesus is not an “absentee farmer”.
In our parable for today, the sower is like Jesus in that he spreads the good seeds of the gospel everywhere! What mattes is not the quality of the soil, but the generosity of the sower.
Like the sower in our parable for today, Jesus is extravagantly generous with the good seeds of the gospel. But Jesus is unlike the sower in parable for this morning, in that he comes back the next day to nourish those seeds and help them to grow.