Summary: Here's the question we must answer: are we called to sow the Kingdom Seeds in despair? Or do we sow them in hope?
July 12, 2020
Hope Lutheran Church
Pastor Mary Erickson
The Sower’s Hope
Friends, may grace and peace be yours in abundance in the knowledge of God and Christ Jesus our Lord.
Huge crowds came to see Jesus. People from all over came to see the famous rabbi and hear him teach. There was a human swarm around him, on the scale of when the Beatles came to the US.
One day the crush was so intense that Jesus ended up climbing in a boat and rowing offshore a short ways. His boat gently bobbed up and down across the waves. He looked ashore and saw the crowd gathered along the beach. Why had they all come? Certainly, for various reasons!
• Some were curiosity seekers. They were energized by seeing the unusual and the exotic. And Jesus was definitely the best show around. They weren’t going to miss it!
• Some were skeptics. They came to scoff and make fun of the gathering. Who does that guy think he is? And look at all these dumb suckers who are lapping up this performance!
• Some were seekers for the secret of life. They flitted from one sensation to the next like a honey bee grazing on flowers. They absorbed a little bit of this and a little bit of that.
• But other people came to Jesus with an open heart. They genuinely wanted to hear his message. They recognized the truth of his word.
Jesus had heard all the chatter. He knows about the negative talkers and the thrill seekers. What bearing does it have on him and his mission? How does he continue his purpose through the side dramas and negative energy?
Here’s how: He knows that none of it matters! What does matter is his mission. Jesus only needs to be faithful to his purpose. And his purpose is to announce that the Kingdom of God has come into their midst.
So Jesus tells this parable to the variegated assemblage of people along the shore. He tells them about a farmer. It’s planting time and he’s in his field. He dips into the grain sack and takes out a handful of seed. Then he begins to sow. He releases the seed in a broad arc and watches as it falls to the ground.
The seed falls in random spots. Some of it lands on the nearby pathway. Other lands in a rocky patch. Some falls in a weedy area. But other seed finds its destination on the good soil of the field.
That’s the thing about planting seeds. The farmer’s life involves a tremendous amount of risk. Farmers are at the mercy of so many unknowns. Crops can fail for any number of reasons: Frost, flooding, hail, and drought. Swarms of locusts, loose cattle, beetle infestations. Nothing is certain until the harvest is in the barn.
Top to bottom, a farmer’s existence is hemmed in by risk. But none of that deters the farmer. If you’re going to be dominated by fear and everything that could possibly go wrong, then farming is not the profession for you!
But fear of disaster is the last thing a farmer is thinking about when he plants his crops. If you’ve ever planted anything, you know for yourself that that just isn’t so!
Planting is all about hope. Even as you put that seed in the soil you can already envision the harvest! In your mind, that harvest is already gathered! You can see those shiny purple eggplants as you lay their seeds in the soil. You can taste those juicy, homegrown tomatoes, smell the heady fragrance of basil, hear the crisp snap of the green bean even before you cover the seeds in their blanket of dark earth.
Planting is future-oriented. It’s an act of hope. Even when your yard is nothing but bare soil, you can already feel that cool carpet of lush, green grass as you broadcast the seed. You turn the sprinklers on and dream about the scent of freshly cut grass. You envision lively games of croquet.
No, nothing is more optimistic, more full of hope, than planting seeds! Hope: that’s what keeps us going in late January when the Gurney’s Seed Catalogue arrives in the mail. We sing for joy on the day it comes! As we pour over each page we realize that no decision on earth is more vital than: pole bean or bush bean? We ponder whether this will finally be the year we break down and buy that plum tree root for our front yard. We’re basking in its shade and eating fruit even while we’re shoveling snow.
Farmers may talk a pessimistic streak, but don’t let ’em fool you. In their heart of hearts, they’re optimists!