That same day Jesus went out of the house and sat by the lake. 2 Such large crowds gathered round him that he got into a boat and sat in it, while all the people stood on the shore. 3 Then he told them many things in parables, saying: ‘A farmer went out to sow his seed. 4 As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path, and the birds came and ate it up. 5 Some fell on rocky places, where it did not have much soil. It sprang up quickly, because the soil was shallow. 6 But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched, and they withered because they had no root. 7 Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up and choked the plants. 8 Still other seed fell on good soil, where it produced a crop – a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown. 9 Whoever has ears, let them hear.’
18 ‘Listen then to what the parable of the sower means: 19 when anyone hears the message about the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what was sown in their heart. This is the seed sown along the path. 20 The seed falling on rocky ground refers to someone who hears the word and at once receives it with joy. 21 But since they have no root, they last only a short time. When trouble or persecution comes because of the word, they quickly fall away. 22 The seed falling among the thorns refers to someone who hears the word, but the worries of this life and the deceitfulness of wealth choke the word, making it unfruitful. 23 But the seed falling on good soil refers to someone who hears the word and understands it. This is the one who produces a crop, yielding a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown.
Firstly an apology again to Mark who fell victim to the age old problem of not reading back what I had written.
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 parenting group has one one occasion had the ‘o’ been accidentally replaced by and ‘i’!
Yet the worst mistake was once about 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 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 pew who have already heard it many times before, and forget that Jesus says “the fields are white to the harvest but the workers are few” -perhaps because so many of them are preaching in Church to congregations stuff they already know whilst those who don’t already know about Jesus because 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 into what you can change not what you can’t.
Work 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?
This is not saying to give up on people and places (although sometimes we are called to knock the dust off from our feet) but rather a prayer to ask God to direct our steps, our time, our energies so that we may serve him faithfully with obedience as we seek first his Kingdom.