You Just Gotta Love that Big Old Crazy God Farmer

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Reading from the Gospel                Matthew 10:1-9, 18-23

That same day Jesus went out of the house

and sat beside the sea.

Such great crowds gathered around him

that he got into a boat and sat there,

while the whole crowd stood on the beach.

And he told them many things in parables, saying:

“Listen! A sower went out to sow.

And as he sowed, some seeds fell on the path,

and the birds came and ate them up.

Other seeds fell on rocky ground,

where they did not have much soil,

and they sprang up quickly,

since they had no depth of soil.

But when the sun rose, they were scorched;

and since they had no root, they withered away.

Other seeds fell among thorns,

and the thorns grew up and choked them.

Other seeds fell on good soil and brought forth grain,

some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty.

Let anyone with ears listen!”

“Hear then the parable of the sower.

When anyone hears the word of the kingdom

and does not understand it, the evil one comes

and snatches away what is sown in the heart;

this is what was sown on the path.

As for what was sown on rocky ground,

this is the one who hears the word

and immediately receives it with joy;

yet such a person has no root,

but endures only for a while,

and when trouble or persecution arises

on account of the word,

that person immediately falls away.

As for what was sown among thorns,

this is the one who hears the word,

but the cares of the world and the lure of wealth

choke the word, and it yields nothing.

But as for what was sown on good soil,

this is the one who hears the word

and understands it, who indeed bears fruit

and yields, in one case a hundredfold,

in another sixty, and in another thirty.”

 

Sermon      You Just Gotta Love that Big Old Crazy God Farmer

 

 

In the almost 17 years I’ve preached here

as your pastor . . . I’ve delivered approximately

700 sermons . . .

that equates to about 1,750,000 words.

I feel kinduv sorry for you . . .

that’s a whole lot of words to endure . . .

some of which you’ve heard over and over and over.

But as your pastor, that also makes me wonder . . .

how many of those 1,750,000 words

have ever made a difference in your life.

If we look at each word as a little seed . . .

each and every one of them . . .

that’s a whole lot of seed being spread out there

amongst you.

So I began to wonder . . . as a preacher who loves

to put his life and faith and passion into something

I so deeply love doing . . .

have any of those words I’ve preached . . .

have any of those tiny seeds . . .

even make a difference in your life.

What happened to all those words . . .

those tiny seeds?

Did they germinate . . .

or did they just dry up and die.

 

That’s the essence of this passage we just heard.

A sower goes out and spreads a whole lot of seeds

. . . throwing seeds all over the place.

Some of them dry up quickly . . .

Others take a little time to die . . .

but then, there are those few . . .

who fall into the right kind of soil

and germinate and begin to grow . . .

producing all kinds of fruits of the Spirit of God.

It’s just like that little seed I spotted

in the baptismal fount a few weeks ago.

I looked down and there was this little seed . . .

just sitting there beneath the glass bowl

that sits inside the fount.

How did it even get in there?

And better yet . . . who was going to take the time

to pick it out of there and throw it in the garbage.

After all . . . I saw it . . . and I left it there . . .

I told myself I would come back later . . . in a few days .

. . and take it out of there and toss it away.

That is . . . until the following Sunday . . .

when I looked under the bowl and saw

that that little seed had germinated . . .

it had grown into a tiny little green plant . . .

its leaves so miniscule I could barely see them.

But it was alive. The seed had been emptied . . .

cast aside . . .

something died and this new life came from it.

And now . . . look there on the cover of your bulletin . . .

and here on the fount . . .

that’s the same little plant today.

The children and I planted it the day it was discovered .

. . and now it’s growing . . .

and I’ve been told that we now need to go out

and plant it in our garden . . .

and see what fruit it will produce.

Out of the living waters. . . new life sprang forth.

Pretty cool, heh?

 

Which really got me thinking.

For so many years when I’ve preached

about the parable of the sower,

I’ve talked about the four types of soil:

the path which had no soil . . .

the dry rocky ground  . . .

the soil choked by all those briars and weeds . . .

and then the good soil.

I would elaborate, just like Jesus,

on what happened to each seed

and explain that only about 25 percent of the seed sown

in the world even manages to grow . . .

the rest being wasted . . .

drying up or snatched away or choked to death.

I would describe how our hearts are like the soil . . .

sometimes too hard to even hear the word of God . . .

or how sometimes we’d get so excited

about God’s word,

but then we’d lose interest in no time . . .

or how our lives are so crowded with work . . .

and the internet . . .

and the demands of our children . . .

or tons of homework from school . . . or our desires

to get more and more and more stuff . . .

that the word of God . . . those little seeds . . .

never have a chance to grow in us.

 

Diana Butler Bass talks about the point

of Jesus’ parable in her book, Grounded.

She writes that “The soil is not the problem.

Rather, the infertility of the soil is the problem.

The sin is not that human beings are unclean.

The sin is that we have failed the soil;

we have not attended to it, or we have abused it

. . .  We are not soil-y enough!

Spiritually, we would be better off more soiled

rather than less. Being soiled is the point.

A friend of mine,” she explains, “who is a pastor

and a gardener insists, “God loves dirt

more than plants, soil more than what it yields.

God is a dirt farmer, not a vegetable gardener.”

Soil is not sin. Soil is sacred, and holy, and good.

When we care for it, we are doing God’s work.

Soil is life. And it is time for us to reclaim the dirt.”

 

That makes a lot of sense to me . . . as a matter of fact,

I believe there are just times in our lives

when our hearts . . . our soil . . .

is just not ready to receive the word of God.

We constantly move through cycles of life

and sometimes God’s word . . . God’s little seeds . .

. do germinate in us.

But there are plenty of other times when the seed

is just wasted on us.

 

It’s not that we don’t want to receive and understand

the word of God in our lives . . .

it’s just that there’s so much competition out there

in the world . . . so many other things . . .

good and bad . . .

that vie for our attention.

It’s hard to stay focused on the word of God all the time.

It just is.

Trust me on this . . . I, for one,

can speak on this from experience.

So when we look at this parable this way . . .

it can make us feel a bit depressed

that so much of God’s good seeds . . .

God’s good words . . .

are wasted on all of us.

How sad.

What a disappointment we must be to our Creator

that we just don’t get it.

No wonder our world is in the shape it’s in . . .

wasted seed everywhere.

 

But . . . there is another way of looking at this parable . .

. and that’s to turn it on its head.

Think about this . . . this is the Parable of the Sower . . .

NOT the Parable of the Soil.

I think there’s a good reason someone named it

the Parable of the Sower . . .

because this story has a lot less to do with us . . .

about how dried up or hard our hearts are . . .

THIS IS A STORY ABOUT THE SOWER . . .

it’s about GOD . . . not us.

And when you turn a story upside down

and look at it from another way . . .

you begin to catch a glimpse of a most amazing thing . .

. and that is this . . .

we’ve got one crazy God farmer who doesn’t care

how much seed is thrown out in this world . . .

or how many times that seed is dropped on our hearts .

. . it’s just going to keep raining seed . . .

over and over and over . . .

pouring out into our lives . . . until finally . . .

when the time is right . . . it will germinate . . .

and God’s grace will fill our lives.

Because this is a story about GRACE . . .

not about our failures and sins.

This is a story about GRACE . . .

not about how we so often miss the mark.

Trust me . . . the seed dropping into your life

this morning might not take root . . .

but there’s plenty more coming . . .

plenty more coming.

 

I think Barbara Brown Taylor clearly understands

that this parable is all about God’s grace . . .

I love how she paraphrases this parable . . .

“Once upon a time a sower went out to sow.

And as he sowed, some seed fell along the path,

and the birds came along and devoured them.

So he put his seed pouch down

and spent the next hour or so stringing aluminum foil

all around his field.

He put up a fake owl he ordered from a garden catalog

and, as an afterthought, he hung

a couple of traps for the Japanese beetles.

“Then he returned to his sowing,

but he noticed some of the seeds were falling

on rocky ground,

so he put his seed pouch down again and went to fetch

his wheelbarrow and shovel.

A couple of hours later he had dug up the rocks

and was trying to think of something useful

he could do with them when he remembered

his sowing and got back to it,

but as soon as he did he ran right into a briar patch

that was sure to strangle his little seedlings.

So he put his pouch down again

and looked everywhere for the weed poison

but finally decided just to pull the thorns up by hand,

which meant he had to go back inside

and look everywhere for his gloves.

“Now by the time he had the briars cleared

it was getting dark, so the sower picked up

his pouch and his tools and decided

to call it a day.

That night he fell asleep in his chair

reading a seed catalog, and when he woke

the next morning he walked out into this field

and found a big crow sitting on his fake owl.

He found rocks he had not found the day before

and he found new little leaves on the roots

of the briars that had broken off in his hands.

The sower considered all this,

pushing his cap back on his head,

and then he did a strange thing:

He began to laugh, just a chuckle at first

and then a full-fledged (laugh) that turned into

a wheeze at the end when his wind ran out.

“Still laughing and wheezing

he went after his seed pouch and began

flinging seeds everywhere:

into the roots of trees, onto the roof of his house,

across all his fences and into his neighbors’ fields.

He shook seeds at his cows and offered a handful

to the dog;

he even tossed a fistful into the creek, thinking

they might take root downstream somewhere.

The more he sowed, the more he seemed to have.

None of it made any sense to him,

but for once that did not seem to matter,

 

and he had to admit

that he had never been happier in all his life.

(Barbara Brown Taylor, The Seeds of Heaven, pp. 28-29)

 

God’s seed . . . God’s word . . . is found everywhere . . .

in the words of the Bible . . .

in a Bible study on Sunday morning . . .

reading a devotional book . . .

sitting quietly with a friend . . .

even in the words of my sermons . . .

 

the word of God touches all of our lives

in so many ways . . .

the seed of God is always being sowed.

 

So the next time you’re walking through your life

feeling miserable about yourself . . .

wondering if you’ll ever catch on to

what Jesus has been trying to teach you . . .

wondering why you keep right on making

the same mistakes over and over and over . . .

maybe even wondering why you feel

like you’re just a dirty rotten sinner

with no hope of ever changing . . .

take a look over your shoulder.

There’s someone walking through your life with you . . .

It’s that big old crazy God farmer . . .

carrying a giant bag of never-ending seeds . . .

full of grace and hope and love . . .

pouring them everywhere . . . and sooner or later . . .

one’s gonna sprout out of your heart . . .

just like that little seed hiding under the fount did . . .

and its gonna grow and grow and grow.

Thanks be to God!

In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

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