Pastor Scott Hannon
St. John Lutheran Church Amherst, NY
I’m just going to come right out and say it. God is a bad sower. God is a reckless farmer. God is a careless planter. In Sunday’s gospel reading Jesus tells the parable of a sower scattering seed. He says that as the farmer scattered seed some fell on the path, some fell on rocky ground, some fell in the thorns and some fell on good soil. Now, I’m an amateur gardener at best, but this much I do know: this is not the best strategy for sowing seed.
In a world that is flooded with scarcity theories (i.e. that there is never enough) this is a hard parable to hear. Who would plant this way? We’re tempted to think. Haste makes waste. We lament. God, be more careful. We counsel. Don’t plant there. Don’t scatter there. Don’t squander seed. Don’t exhaust your resources in places that won’t produce.
But what if we got over the assumption that the seed would run out? What if we knew that there was an overabundance of seed, a surplus so large it would never be exhausted? Would it change the way we hear this parable? I think it would. Indeed, I think it does.
Starting with the reference point that the seed will never run out the sower is free to scatter. This is not an invitation to be reckless or careless; rather, this allows the sower to be extravagant. The sower is free to scatter seed on all sorts of ground even if it isn’t always labeled “good.” Now such a sight – the sight of a sower extravagantly – may not makes sense to us according to worldly standards, but thanks be to God that it makes sense to God.
This sort of scattering is good news indeed. Often we who are tempted to think that God shouldn’t scatter his blessings on “bad ground,” assume that we are “good soil.” However, the truth of our lives as simultaneous saints and sinners is that on any given day, at any given moment we are good and bad ground. Our lives are like the path: so hardened and trampled by activity that we don’t have time to receive the Word. Our lives are like the rocky ground: capable of receiving God’s blessings at first, only to find our faith waning under the stress of life. Our lives are like the thorns: we find God’s Word choked out by our worldly cares and lust for wealth. And yes, at times, we are the good soil.
The beauty of this parable is that according to the standards of this world God is a bad sower. God sows where God will even if the ground is sometimes hard, rocky, or thorny. God is not stingy with his grace. God is not frugal with his mercy. God is not uncharitable with his love. God is extravagant beyond our wildest dreams. What the world labels “bad” God still sees some good.
Today no matter how hard, rocky or thorny your life, God is sowing seeds. So take hope from the words of Isaiah:
For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return there until they have watered the earth, making it bring forth and sprout, giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater, so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and succeed in the thing for which I sent it.
May the seeds of grace take root in your life. May the hard places in life be tilled to workable soil. May the jagged, rocky edges be smoothed by forgiveness and grace. May the thorns cease to inflict pain. May your heart be good soil. And at all times may you thank God for his extravagant sowing that blesses simultaneous saints and sinners like you and me.
In the Way,
For more inspiration and insights from Pastor Scott and Pastor Shawn’s past columns, please visit www.jamestowngazette.com and click on the Faith Matters page. The Jamestown Gazette is proud to present our county’s most creative and original writers for your enjoyment and enlightenment.