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16th July 2023 - 7th Sunday after Pentecost

Updated: Oct 30, 2023

Genesis 25:19-34

Psalm 119:105-112

Romans 8:1-11

Matthew 13:1-9(10-17) 18-23

In the name of God, Earth-maker, Pain Bearer, Life Giver. Amen.

The Parable of the Sower

You may be aware that I love gardening. My home is built on incredibly rich volcanic soil. Each day when I am at home, I usually take time to water, weed and trim. I find gardening, which is such an ordinary thing to do, very mindful, life giving, and spiritual. In the years leading up to my father’s death, it was gardening that kept me centred, and helped me process the tough times, and see new life, even when death seemed to be all around me.

I love that Jesus used ordinary everyday things, things that the people would have connected with, to teach about God. He did not lord it over them, but rather, he came amongst the people and told them a parable, parables are said to be life giving stories. Jesus told many life-giving stories. In this story, Jesus came out of the house and sat with the people. They were beside the sea; we are told there were great crowds. In the end there were so many people Jesus had to get into the boat to talk with them. Then we hear Jesus say, Listen! This is always a signal that he wanted their attention – he then proceeded to tell them a story about the Sower and the seeds.

As I was reflecting on the parable, I was thinking about my first experience of trying to grow poppies from seeds. They are the tiniest of seeds, and I dug the holes and put them in, watered them and waited for them to grow. Very few came up. It wasn’t until I read articles and listened to the experts that I realised I had done the wrong thing. Poppy seeds like to be sown, just thrown on the ground, no need to bury them. The next season I built up the soil, with lots of fertiliser, threw the seeds on the ground hoping the birds would not eat them, and success, they grew and flourished, and now every year they reseed, and my garden explodes with happy colourful poppies which not only bring pleasure to me, but also our neighbourhood.

Jesus said, Listen! A Sower sowed the seeds, some fell on the path, and the birds ate them, others on rocky ground, with not much soil, and didn’t survive, and on he went with his story, talking about the many failures of trying to sow the seeds, it wasn’t until the seed fell on good soil that it yielded a crop. After he finished telling them the parable the disciples questioned Jesus, why do you talk in parables? And he responded, “Seeing they do not perceive, and hearing they do not listen, nor understand.” So, we can be told things, stories repeatedly, but do we let them go deep inside ourselves, do we let them enter our soul and disturb us to the point of really understanding and changing our lives.

Language is a powerful tool; it paints a picture of what we are trying to say. How do we use language, do we use it to build up and teach as Jesus was doing when he talked with the crowd. Are we mindful of not using language to tear down, to hurt, or gossip, so we do not cause damage. Jesus used language to teach, to grow, and to reveal God’s love.

After the disciples questioned Jesus he then explained the parable, that we need to be mindful of our language, mindful of what we sow, if we just drop the seed on the path, not being careful, then God’s message of love maybe be snatched away from our heart, then if we perceive straight away but do not continually renew our belief and faith in God, our faith may stagnate and not grow. He continued to explain the story until he got to the seeds sewn on good soil, “the one who hears the word and understands it, will bear fruit.” I’m not sure I will ever totally understand the word of God, I continually strive to learn and understand and change. The way I garden continues to change as I listen to the earth and learn the needs of the soil and the plants I grow, but boy when all the elements come together, it’s an incredible joy-filled garden.

What are some of the things that we have tried and failed, then changed and tried again until it has borne fruit. What are some of the things we have tried as a community, and the seed has died? What are some of the things we need to do to create fertile rich soil to enable us to grow?

And, are we mindful of our language as we work to grow God’s kingdom, we are not perfect, sometimes things will fail, and we need to go back to the drawing board, and seasons come, and season go. There is always, always opportunity for growing God’s creation. We as a community are entering into a new season, I will be finishing up, after spending a wonderful few months getting to know the community and hearing your stories. And we are most grateful for your care and love as you welcomed us into the community for a short season.

My husband, Craig, our cat, Tormey, and I will head back to our home in Brisbane, where I will once again hopefully garden each day, my poppies and bulbs will just about be ready to flower. And in a few weeks the community will be welcoming Naomi as she will be installed as our new Dean. There will be great excitement as you welcome a new season, filled with new and endless possibilities for growth. But like the parable of the Sower, some of the things we will try may not thrive, but others will. May God bless all that is done in God’s name, and may the community grow and flourish. And thank you. Amen.

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