seed soil sower

Here is the sermon I will be preaching this morning at my installation service:

July 10, 2011 – Installation Service

Seed Soil Sower (Matthew 13)

Please pray with me…May the words of my mouth and the meditations of our hearts be pleasing unto you, our Rock and Redeemer. Amen.

Show of hands: How many of you have ever heard this parable before? The parable of the sower tends to be pretty well-known.

Now, how many of you think of yourself as the seed, the soil or the sower?

I have a confession to make: I was so excited to learn that this was the text for this Sunday. I thought, “awesome! This is gonna be such an easy sermon to preach. I mean, it’s a parable, but Jesus explains it in clear terms, which means that this is the equivalent of having a sermon being spoon-fed to the preacher… Awesome…”

Then I realized that I was going to be preaching about seeds and soil to a bunch of farmers who know a lot more about seeds and soil than I ever will. So I got a little nervous.

But I’m still gonna try with my limited knowledge.

I’m out of my element. I may have come from farming families, but I am not a farm girl. I have never gone to a field to plant a crop. I even tried my best growing up to not be around when my family was planting our small garden.

Because I have to confess that I do not have much of a green thumb. I seldom get a plant to grow from the seed and sprout and survive to actually produce anything. Or when I do manage to keep something alive, it doesn’t act like it should. I have a peace lily that has no lily on it but continues to sprout new green leaves. I have a drooping dragon tree. I have a spider plant that has somehow managed to only grow in one half of a pot.

When it comes to plants, I’m a horrible sower of seeds.

So what can I share with the seed, soil and sowing experts?

A beginning of understanding.

Inspiration hit a few days ago. I was sitting in the office, reading and reflecting upon this passage when I saw that a friend from seminary was online. I asked for some insight into the passage. And she reminded me that this passage is not just about the seed and the soil, but also about the sower. The sower who is abundant while tossing out a lot of seeds without trying to corral them all into neat rows in the best soil, but is hopeful that even those who end up in the bad parts will take root. The sower seems reckless, but is also quite generous with the seed.

Which is true.

But it is also true that this parable is about seed, soil AND sower. The three s’s are all important.

I asked you earlier if you thought you were seed, soil or sower. How many seeds are here? Soil? Sowers?

I’m hoping that some of you put yourself into more than one category.

Let me elaborate.

What is seed? We all know that seeds are tiny little kernels. Seeds are what grow into something much larger. Seeds start out tiny but create more seeds. Seeds contain potential for new life and growth.

So what is the seed in the parable? Simply put, the message of God’s kingdom. The story of Jesus life, death and resurrection. The story of God’s love for all of creation.

But I also think that we are seeds.

Let me elaborate. You are tossed out into the world by the great Sower. Jesus sends his followers out in abundance to all the ends of the earth, and the seed do not know whether they will end up in good soil or not. The disciples are commanded to go and make new disciples, which means that they are to ideally grow and create more seeds. We are the new seeds being tossed out to bring about new life. We are seeds being sent out to encounter the different soils.

And what is the soil?

This is the easiest of the questions to answer: the soil is where the seeds take root and grow. In the parable, Jesus is referring to each hearer of the seed of truth. Each person who hears the story is a soil type.

We are the soil Jesus is talking about. This is an easy connection to make. What is challenging is figuring out where we fit in the list.

Today we understand that some seeds flourish better in different soils and conditions than in others. Some things in farming never change.

The seeds with the hard-packed soil don’t have much of a fighting option. They don’t have the time to set down roots before greater powers sweep them away. The good news doesn’t have time to penetrate through their thick skulls or their really tough skins.

But other seeds fall on the shallow ground where there is not enough depth to provide much support. While they start off just fine, they don’t stand a fighting chance before they falter and fall short. The lack the foundation and depth to really flourish.

And other seeds fall in the thorns. These start to grow but are quickly surrounded by the challenges and dangers of life. They are surrounded by the concerns of the world that choke the life out of them, the worries and fears that keep them from being able to grow.

But there are some lucky seeds that fall into the deep, rich soil. These lucky seeds are those who are able to get nutrients and support they need in order to help them flourish and to create more life.

I’m sure we can all understand how we can be categorized as one of the soil types, or maybe we are a combination. Fields can contain both rocky and rich soil.

We can talk all we want about soil, but when we read the parable of the sower, we cannot forget about the sower.

The sower is the one who is generously tossing out seeds, probably well aware that not all the seeds will grow. The sower is the one who does what he can to prepare the soil but understands that the growth of the seeds is out of his hands once he tosses the seeds out into the world.

In our story, Jesus is the sower. Jesus is the one who is spreading the seeds in the form of stories and lessons. He is the one who first sows seeds in his followers, who then grow to produce seeds and they in turn sow seeds in other fields and soils. And the seed is not just restricted to the soils that are better for growing. Jesus is generous by tossing out far more seed than needed in the hopes that there will be a bountiful crop. He knows that not all seeds will grow, but in order for any to grow, many seeds must be sown. I may only possess a general knowledge of farming, but I am well aware that there will not be a crop unless the sower sows some seeds in the soil. So Jesus does.

And now, we can also be little sowers. We can be the ones to go out and toss some seed around. We get to be the ones who use our words and actions to share the story of God’s love with people everywhere.

God does a lot to ensure that the soil is ready and that growth continues, but God uses our hands to help sow seeds. We stand on the edge of a field that is ready to hear about Jesus, whether for the first time or the 679th time. God as the sower was and is generous in tossing out seeds, and we should be generous and toss in abundance. Something small can become much larger and flourish, but it won’t have a chance to grow unless it’s tossed out and we let go.

So today, as we celebrate changes in Tri-County Ministry with installation of a new pastor and a commissioning of the staff, I want to challenge you to think about how you are always seed, soil and sower. Depending on the day and what is going on, you are the seed with potential for growth, you are the soil where seeds of truth can grow, and you are the sower who enters the world to find soils where new seeds can grow.

Good luck and may God be with you all in every stage of your growth. Amen.

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