This was the homily from this week’s worship service, delivered by Hugh Hollowell. The text was from Matthew 13:1-9 and 18-23.
I grew up on a farm.
Well, a has-been farm. By the time I was born, we didn’t depend on the crops for our living. Dad worked in town, and so we just had a huge garden, and some chickens and pigs and goats.
Because ours was a farming community, and because Dad worked in town, I spent a lot of my time with farmers, and retired farmers. People who had spent their whole life planting seeds and then waiting to see if this year they would earn a living. To see if this year there would be money to pay the bills, if this year there would be new clothes for the kids, money to provide a Christmas.
These were people who were drop dead serious about farming. They farmed as if their life depended on it. Because, in lots of ways, it did.
So, the one thing you did not do was waste seed.
Every year, you would hold back a part of the crop to use as seed next year. That seed was the means to your whole livelihood. Every dream you had about the future was tied up in that seed. It was precious.
The ground was no less important than the seed. You had to bust it up, then run the cultivator over it, and then use the harrow to smooth the clods. Then, and only then, when the ground was at its most perfect, did you risk putting your precious seed into it. To do less would be wasteful.
So, when Jesus tells the story of the planter who scatters his seeds all over the place, my first thought is that this planter is a really bad farmer. He is risking his future on bad soil, and he is wasting his seed.
See, if you only have so much seed, you can’t take chances on the soil. You only bet on the sure thing.
But this planter doesn’t think that way. This planter takes chances. This planter is willing to risk it. This planter is almost promiscuous with his seed, scattering it here and there. Maybe it will grow in the rocks. Maybe it will sprout on the path. To not take a chance is to not ever know.
In the church I grew up in, I always heard this passage as an evangelism text. “You share the word, and those that are ready will snatch it up!” In the way they told the story, they wanted to make it a story about the ground.
But Jesus says it is a story about a sower – a planter. In other words, Jesus is saying, watch what the planter does in the text.
The planter takes risks on all sorts of ground. The planter is reckless and has hope that the seed will sprout on the rocks, on the path, in the thorns. The planter has hope, and the planter is generous.
That is what God is like, and what we are called to be like, by imitating Jesus.
When we follow the way that Jesus modeled for us, instead of only sharing our love and our hope with the people that are worth it, we love generously. We love hopefully, because we have high hopes that the love we share in the bad places will take root and sprout and bear something.
So instead of looking for the right kind of soil, we can focus on sharing love instead. Because unlike seed, there is enough love for everyone.by