Its not the first time my spelling has landed me in trouble: when I worked for St. Michael le Belfrey I was typing up an OHP and wrote the lines of the song when the music fades which include the line “I’ll bring you more than a song” yet I wrote “I’ll bring you more than a snog!” -oops.
Also at Cafe Tots our toddler group, I mistyped an email on one one occasion had the ‘o’ been accidentally replaced by and ‘i’!
Yet the worst mistake was once another mistype writing about ‘futile ground’ was meant to be ‘fertile ground’.
Yet it made me think about what all of us spend our times doing, is it fertile or futile?
Thinking about this passage, we know there is nothing wrong with the seed, the word of God has taken root in human hearts across the world and across time and history…
So the seed is fine, the problem two fold:
Firstly do we sow generously or sparingly? For if we sow generously we will reap generously!
The second problem with the seed is where is it sown?
Throwing all your seed onto the path would be madness, chucking the lot into the bramble bushes would be bonkers, and scattering it on the rocks it a pretty pointless exercise… whilst giving the good soil a miss would be crazy!
Yet the truth is that this is exactly what too many of us, and our Churches, sometimes do with our time.
We spend years often preaching to those in the who have already heard it many times before forgetting that Jesus says “the fields are white to the harvest but the workers are few”.
Pastor Yinka from the Turning, said “The fields are white to the Harvest and the workers are you!”
The big problem is we never get out the barn and into the fields.
A great quote I read once was “The fields are white to the Harvest but we missed the opportunity arguing about what colour to paint the tractor!
White to the Harvest -What does that mean? When the crop goes white time is of the essence it needs to be harvested straight away as something has got into the plant that will destroy it, the only solution is to harvest it straight away! It is a picture of gospel urgency, or the need for immediate action, delay will mean the crop will be lost.
Sadly however, many of us have been preaching in Church to congregations stuff they already know, whilst outside the doors are those who know little but long to know about Christ. The tragedy is too often we wont move from our soil to theirs.
Recently I was in a headteachers office and she had written on the wall “Don’t water the stones” -a modern take on “don’t lay your pearls before swine” in other words, put your effort what you can change not what you can’t. Go through the doors God has opened, rather than trying to move resistive people into mission when they don’t want to go, instead knock the dust from your feet and go where the soil is fertile.
Go where God is calling, where he is already at work.
I remember speaking to someone who was talking about a situation and he made a joke of “God being at work in his world and sometimes the Church is playing catch up” -which is actually very much like to book of Acts.
Rowan Williams said “Mission, is finding out where God is working and joining in”… interestingly I believe it is often in unlikely places, or rather the places he’s at work are rarely the comfortable Churchy establishment (or the safe confines of our peer groups who look well a bit like us really!) but rather where the hurting, broken, marginalised and disenfranchised are.
Mother Teresa laughed at people flying half way around the world to go to an area of revival for a blessing but the same people wouldn’t cross the street to be a blessing.
A challenge to us all, ask the Lord where is the good soil that you want me to sow into, where is fertile?
Ask the Lord where is the bad soil, where I am expending maximum effort for minimal impact, where is futile? And where is fertile? What and where should I invest my time energy and resources?
Jesus said “I only do what I see my Father doing”