It's beginning to feel as if the only time I take the time to post to this blog is when I'm working on another sermon. Bloggin is probably yet another creative way to procrastinate getting back to the hard work of preparation. Even though I know for a fact that God helps me in this process, I still have to do my part. This time I'm wrestling with the parable of the sower, who scattered seeds with such wild abandon that they landed on the path, the rocks, and among the thorn bushes as well as on good soil--much like God's scattering of grace on the just and the unjust alike.
I have learned that broadcasting seed was the way to plant in Jesus' time and place. The seeds were scattered and then plowed under, the reverse of modern Western practice. Not being a farmer, what I didn't realize about this parable before I began this preparation process is that the reported harvest at the end of the story was a ridiculously extravagant one. The expected return for seed sown in Jesus' time and locale would have been about seven to ten fold. Instead the story tells of a harvest of 30, 60 or 100 fold, extravagant even with modern farming methods. As is always the case in Jesus' parables, something unusual is going on.
What I'm now struggling with is how to convey the unusual part of this story in a fresh way to our congregation. (As a side note, it's always scarier for me to preach in our home church, for these are people who have known me a long time.) What I've also learned in reading the commentaries and studying this passage is that Jesus aimed the parable directly at his disciples, implicitly asking them, "what type of soil do you provide and what kind of harvest can God expect in your life?" That's certainly cutting to the heart of the matter.
So now I'm wrestling with how to teach the congregation that this parable is not about judging the quality of soil in someone else's life, and that being good soil requires constant effort and attention, just like planting and caring for a garden. Maybe I'm also procrastinating because I'm now wondering what type of soil I am today, and hoping to produce a good harvest. May the Master Gardner grown an abundance of fruit in your life.
Grace and Peace,