A sermon on the Parable of the Sower; Mark 4
I want to start off by taking a quick poll.
Show of hands,
who thinks they're bad soil?
Who thinks they're good soil?
Who thinks, well it depends on the day. I have good soil days and bad soil days...
Who thinks they're the sower?
When I was preparing this sermon, I cannot tell you how many articles I read about
"Transforming the congregation into good soil," or
"How to be good soil."
One article even had tips on how to get rid of your thorns.
But if I'm going to be honest with you all,
I have a hard time with this because
the way I understand it, is if we are to be the soil in this story
then we're all made good soil through Christ.
Instead, the way I read this text,
is our call to be loving sowers.
Sowers of God's Word,
through speech and action
without concern as to whether the soil is fruitful or not.
Have you ever held the door open for someone who didn't say thank you?
Have you ever done it a second time for the same person knowing they may or may not say thank you?
Then you kind of already get it.
This idea of action not because of any expected outcome, but because we know it's the right thing to do.
Listen, I know this is easier said than done.
I know this not because of seminary, or Bible study, or because I'm in church every week.
... I know this because I've worked in retail.
In most retail jobs, there's an expectation to greet customers.
You say, "Hi," and "Can I help you find anything?"
At my first job, if the boss saw a customer walk past you,
and you did not greet them. he would put a tally by your name he had written in a notebook.
At the daily department meeting, he would announce who all got tallies and how many.
While he was walking through the store, he would remind you to smile as he passed you. Always.
I should mention, I was working in an electronics store... not at Disney world.
This blanket-greeting-requirement lead to some pretty awkward situations.
I would greet couples as they were arguing with each other,
people who were on the phone,
even customers who were really just employees on their day off.
If I ever talked in my sleep, it was probably,
"Hi! Can I help you find anything?"
I felt like a broken record.
And while this practice was very tedious and borderline obnoxious,
it was overall beneficial because it was a lot easier to help people,
when they knew I was there to help them,
and happy to do it.
Even some of the awkward situations;
the couple that was arguing couldn't figure out how a product worked,
and I was able to explain it to them. They left happy.
The lady who was on her phone was in a hurry, and was able to get her in and out quickly.
Now, I'm not trying to say that spreading the love of God is like selling iPods.
What I am saying is that sowing seeds is a service.
It's a service we do as God's hands here on earth
with and for each other,
regardless of the outcome.
Because, ultimately, the outcome has nothing to do with us.
You can be the best seed sower,
but if you're sowing them as freely as we're called to,
some are going to land among thorns,
some are going to fall on the path.
Sometimes our words fall on deaf ears.
I know this is disheartening.
Sometimes our acts of loving-kindness feel small and insignificant.
Mother Theresa wrote a beautiful verse called, "Do it Anyway."
People are often unreasonable, irrational, and self-centered.
Forgive them anyway.
If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives.
Be kind anyway.
If you are successful, you will win some unfaithful friends and some genuine enemies.
If you are honest and sincere people may deceive you.
Be honest and sincere anyway.
What you spend years creating, others could destroy overnight.
If you find serenity and happiness, some may be jealous.
Be happy anyway.
The good you do today, will often be forgotten.
Do good anyway.
Give the best you have, and it will never be enough.
Give your best anyway.
In the final analysis, it is between you and God.
It was never between you and them anyway.
But that first time it lands among thorns, you shouldn't stop sowing.
While the message to spread the love of God is our call to action,
the good news in this story, is abundance.
Is using the Narrative Lectionary, throughout most of the year we read and preach from different passages than many other churches who use the revised common lectionary.
Often times the themes and the lessons are completely different.
However, this week, those other churches are hearing about the wedding at Cana
where Jesus turns 12 large jugs of water into wine to share.
When you pair this with our Gospel lesson about the sower throwing seeds everywhere,
it would seem that many, many people this morning are hearing a Gospel message of abundance.
The Holy Spirit works in mysterious and creative ways,
and sometimes that means that the lessons we hear, are the messages we need to hear.
If you look at the sower in this parable and his sowing of seeds,
from purely a practical lens, his methods seem a little... off.
The sower in the parable Jesus tells takes and throws seeds so carelessly that some lands among the path,
some of it ends up among thorns,
some doesn't get buried at all,
and only some of it actually lands within the soil.
Anyone who has ever planted a single seed knows that this technique is ridiculous.
Mostly because it's drastically wasteful.
It would seem that about 75% of the seeds never become anything.
The sower doesn't seem to care.
The sower is far more concerned about getting the seed out there.
This isn't how you plant crop...
but this is how you spread the Word of God.
I think the reason we get so upset with the sower here,
is because when we think of seeds, we think of a finite number of seeds.
However, when we realize the seeds are God's Word
the imagery of the sower changes.
Instead of a normal seed bag,
the sower is pulling seeds out of Mary Poppins' magic carpet bag,
and there is no bottom
because the supply of seeds never runs out,
because the Word of God never runs out.
This is the awesome power of the Word of God.
It has the power to be endless.
The same power to turn the tiniest mustard seed into something gigantic and amazing.
And wonderful it is that a God who's Word holds so much power,
loves us so much
that God places the seeds in our hands and tells us to sow them abundantly.
If that's not a seed worth sowing, I don't know what is.
You may never know what happens after the seed falls to the ground.
Sow it anyway.