The Parable of the Sower

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jimkenney12

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I apologize for posting this on Wondercafe, but, not being in ministry now, I do not have a church website for posting my sermons. The following message will probably be my last for some time.

2014 07 13 Responding to God’s Call (Mat 13:1-9; Rom 8:1-11)
Three sales people in a GM dealership watch a man come in who was wearing a dirty T-shirt, beat-up jeans, and scruffy shoes. Al, the youngest, is told to approach him and find out what he wanted. 30 minutes later, Al has his best commission of the year and the man is driving away in a new Cadillac. He was replacing his old one which had just had an unfortunate meeting with a tree he was cutting down in his yard.
The parable of the sower challenges us in many ways while also offering hope. Here are a few short thoughts about the parable.
On one level, we can see God as the sower who carelessly, generously, throws the seeds everywhere. God gives everyone and every place the possibility experiencing blessings from God.
Similarly, we can see Jesus as the sower who offered his words and actions to everyone, regardless of which soil they seemed to be. For example, the religious leaders would have been the hard ground that would not let new ideas take root, but some of them, like Nicodemus, did hear and respond.
A final view of the sower is to hear an invitation to do likewise, to throw our love and our thoughts everywhere without calculating where they might yield the most results.
The next element in the parable is the seed. The interpretation probably added later as the Gospel was being composed claims the seed is the news of the empire of God that Jesus offered. The fruitfulness of this seed is revealed by the person hearing it embracing the kingdom and successfully inviting others to share this news.
Embracing the kingdom is revealed by the transformation of the person to someone whose love of God flows into all parts of their lives and to all people. They are free from the power of fear; generosity flows out of their confidence that God will provide for them; servanthood is a source of joy and meaning.
We can also think of Jesus as the seed, or of ourselves as seeds being cast about in our world.
The third element in the story is the place, the soil. In the interpretation offered in the Gospel, the people who hear the news are the soil. We can also think of the soil, the place, as being within ourselves, place that changes over time and through different situations. When we are stretched to the breaking point or in situations where we have no energy for new ideas, the soil within us is like a beaten path, a well-travelled road with a hard, unyielding surface. When we are dealing with many challenges and distractions, the place within us is a patch of weeds. When we are feeling at peace and eager to grow spiritually, the place within us is rich soil.
There are other physical elements in the parable such as the birds and the weeds
What is essential to this story, given to a crowd by the sea eager to listen to Jesus, is the action of throwing something capable of growth into a place where that something will not receive the same reception everywhere or by everyone. In spite of the variation of conditions, over all the seed prospers. Even though most of it is lost, there is still more at the end of the story than at the beginning. Encounters with Jesus can be like that.
There is a line from the reading of Romans as translated in the Message Bible that struck home to me: “attention to God leads us into the open, into a spacious, free life.”
If we are going to receive and nurture the seed, we need to know what it is. For me it is the assurance that God loves us unconditionally and invites into god-like living by also loving unconditionally. Trust, hope and love blend together freeing us from the powers of this world to control us. This spirit of being opened the door to Jesus saying and doing things that were offensive to rulers and his listeners and watchers as he peeled away layers of accumulated lies about how we ought to live. One of the sins of the church was replacing some of those layers of lies in accommodating to culture and ingratiating itself with authorities.
A test of our freedom is our ability to genuinely choose standards, goals, and ways of being, and to live consistent with those standards, goals, and chosen ways of being. Over the past 4 weeks I have worked on packing up my ministry and possessions at St. Matthew’s; leaving organized information for John Crowdis, the new minister at St. Matthew’s, helping organize a family reunion in BC which happened last weekend; do a funeral my last week at St. Matthew’s; organize and carry out a canoe trip on the Milk Rive; and, this last week, be with my mother in emergency and help make decisions about her transfer to a hospice as we discovered she had advanced pancreatic cancer. If I lived a totally free, spacious life, I would have been able to be consistent in how I treated all the people around me, and I was not a nice to a couple of siblings as I would have liked to have been.
A free, spacious life is filled with consistent responses not harmful, reactions.
Open, free, spacious lives enable people to move outside of cultural and religious boxes that do not reflect our belief in a source of being who cares about all of creation. The great reformers of the past such as Robert Peel and Tommy Douglas are examples of people living such lives. Hannah, a 7 year-old girl in Winnipeg showed this spacious life as she started doing something for homeless people and was an international speaker by the time she was 9. Webster MacDonald, a lawyer who stood up for criminals and people accused of crimes who were at the bottom of the social ladder, showed this spacious living. There are people of all ages and in all walks of life who are able to claim their freedom to do what they believe is right for the good of others.
Most of us, to some degree, are slaves. We might be slaves to fashion or gadgets or work or money or seeking fame or to many other slave masters. It is hard work to claim freedom, work that never ends because potential slave masters are always on the prowl for more slaves. People who work jobs they hate because they need the money or volunteers who hate their volunteer work, but need the acceptance of others are two examples of slaves.
The seed that Jesus sowed shows us that, with the love of God, we do not need to fear anything in this world, not even death.
The sowing of this seed is by living it, not preaching or teaching it – the preaching and teaching serve to help clarify and translate the meaning of the seed. Without it first being received through example, there is little readiness for growing it.
Living spacious, free lives, such as modeled by Margaret Sundstrom and some people here sows the seed.
It is up to us, each day, to let that seed thrive inside of us, so we may also succeed at sowing seeds in the lives of others. In this way we experience life in the empire of God, and help others to also choose this life.
May the Spirit help each of us receive, accept, and grow the seed within us and provide or be the seeds that help others to know the Empire Life.
 

Inannawhimsey

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the spirit of Bradbury is strong in you, jimkenney12 :3

you might enjoy octavia butler's "parable of the sower"...i found it to be an inspirational retelling of the parable
 

revjohn

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jimkenney12 said:
I apologize for posting this on Wondercafe, but, not being in ministry now, I do not have a church website for posting my sermons. The following message will probably be my last for some time.
No apology is necessary.

I hope that by the phrase, "not being in ministry now" you simply mean you are not in a pastoral relationship rather than you think you are now by virtue of retirement exempt from ministry.

I also hope that by the statement, "The following message will probably be my last for some time." you mean that you are going on vacation and will not be posting or, that since you are no longer in a pastoral relationship you won't be posting sermons, homilies or meditations.

jimkenney12 said:
On one level, we can see God as the sower who carelessly, generously, throws the seeds everywhere. God gives everyone and every place the possibility experiencing blessings from God.


I ran with the image of an extravagant God sowing seed with reckless abandon also. Playing with the invitation included in The Message which reads, "What do you make of this?" before the parable is actually delivered.

It seems strangely self-serving or self-affirming to congratulate you. Never the less, well done thou good and faithful servant!
 

jimkenney12

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Thank you, John. I don't know when I will next be writing a sermon. As a follower of Jesus, everything we do in life is ministry whether it is done well or poorly or otherwise. I meant I am not in paid ministry, and don't expect to be for some time.
 

Inannawhimsey

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Thank you, John. I don't know when I will next be writing a sermon. As a follower of Jesus, everything we do in life is ministry whether it is done well or poorly or otherwise. I meant I am not in paid ministry, and don't expect to be for some time.
Hey m'man, I can consider all your posts I've come across as a part of your ministry

No pressure :3

universe does indeed conspire to shower us with blessings
 
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