After a week off, I’m back. Thanks to Pastor Joe Garcia for being with us. Made it easy to get a week off without having to worry about preparing a sermon.
Matthew 13:1-23 http://bible.oremus.org/?ql=176899448
I love it when a selected reading begins with “And then…” or, as todays does “That same day…”. It’s a transition that makes perfect sense as a transition, but in a selection used in worship, it doesn’t. Hearing it makes me think “What happened earlier that day?”. The idea that “That same day, he went and sat by the sea” puts to me is “Why did he go sit by the sea.” Which to me is a dumb question. You sit by the sea because it is time to rest. Time to go back to the water you came from. To be somewhere you are usually not. At least that’s why I sit by the sea, or by water of any sort.
Of course, all that can be used to remember how easily distracted I am. After all, the point of the lesson is what it is transitioning to.
And that is the parable. Like I do with most parables, I try to come at it a bit differently than usual. So consider the sower. I don’t know seed prices right now, much less in Jesus day. But I know that it isn’t free and particularly the poorer sustenance farmers of Judea wouldn’t waste seed if they could help it. No farmer plants seed where he or she knows full well it won’t grow. Nobody ever planted anything at Lela’s chapel at Ebert, for instance. Its rock. And nobody puts seed on the sidewalk and thinks it will grow. When I throw seed on the sidewalk, it is specifically to feed the birds, which is of course what happens. But this farmer just wastes seed, throwing it all over. Not a farmer worried about the bottom line. Not a farmer interested in much profit. A farmer with sense would look around, find the best growing soil, and plant only there. So something is wrong with this farmer.
So now, what then could that possibly say about God? Well, I think it says quite simply that from a human perspective, there is something not quite right about God. Any human, seeing a farmer waste seed, would say the person is a fool. So watching God throw seed around willy nilly, we have to remember that God is in fact foolishly extravagant. God’s seeds don’t only go where we see them as having value, but all over the place.
What is to say that God doesn’t know full well that the seed we see as wasted for the birds isn’t being carried off somewhere? Think like the coffee beans that some cat eats and poops out and makes them the most expensive stuff you can buy (and to my mind the most disgusting idea a person has ever though of as a good idea to put in their mouth). But birds carry seeds all over. In God’s economy, as opposed to our own, what we see as waste isn’t wasted. Do I stop caring about someone because their life hasn’t gotten fixed yet? Do I stop praying for them when I think it’s hopeless? Or do I keep on, knowing that God’s wisdom in sowing is beyond my understanding?