Saturday, July 9, 2011
The Extavagant Sower: Sermon on Proper 10A
So I find in reading today’s Gospel a bit of restlessness. No matter how much ground preparation I can do, my tomatoes are still going to burn up by August. No matter how much soil preparation I do, or how much watering, the garden that I manufacture in my back yard is still subject to the climate.
But Jesus is not talking about gardens is he? He is talking about us—he is talking about God and he is talking about the Word of God. And like anyone who uses analogy as a literary device, Jesus is not talking about the climate, or the soil, or even the seeds. He is talking about the generosity of God.
This week the Jehovah Witnesses came to my door. Usually I when they come, I thank them and turn them away. This week I invited them in. They had their tracts they wanted to share but it was not doctrine that I wanted to argue with them. I wanted them to share with me the love of God that they obviously knew. It was remarkable. Most of the things that they espouse I do not. But that didn’t matter. We were talking about where the seed of God had changed our lives.
In the alternative reading from Hebrew Scripture in Isaiah 55 we hear “ So as the rain and snow comes down from heaven watering the earth, so too my word goes out and does not return without accomplishing that for which I purposed it, says the Lord.” It is a good image to keep in mind—we do not have to worry about how to describe how God has worked in our lives. We just have to do it—be faithful to speak even when we are not sure of what will come out. Gratitude for all the goodness of God’s blessing, of God’s sowing should not be kept in. It isn’t somebody else’s job. It isn’t just for those of us who have funny pieces of plastic stuck on our shirts. Sowing God’s gospel is the job of every one of us because we have already experienced the growth of the seeds in our lives. From the time we first knew of God in our lives, we have been graced with the ability to share the stories.
One of the biggest impediments to the sowing of the Gospel is because we don’t think we are worthy or feelings of inadequacy. “Why would anyone want to hear how God has worked in my life?” we think. But that isn’t the issue. It isn’t your life that is important, but what GOD has done in it that says to others that God is there for them.
I had a preaching professor once tell me that I should not share my own story in my sermons. That’s hogwash! It is our stories that we can tell with the integrity o that carry the message of God to others. That is what is so extravagant about God: none of us are worthy to even mention what God has done in our lives, but it is Christ who makes us worthy—who cleans up our act and allows our lives to be transformed by his love that makes our stories carriers of the Divine message of love.
It is the words of Paul’s Letter to the Romans that give us hope: “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” All too often we compare our lives to Christ and find ourselves wanting. But for those of us who are baptized into the life of Christ, we do not have to worry because there is no condemnation. We can step boldly knowing that we have been given all the words to claim God’s blessings, to step out in faith despite our own failings and we can share what God had done in us, in our families, in the world, in all Creation, simply because God has sown love so extravagantly. Perhaps we have struggled with knowing God’s love, but we have learned to love through the love of another. We can see the signs of the seeds in our lives. All we have to do is share them with others whether in the pulpit or at the water cooler, whether it is in church or at a ball game, whether it is on rocky ground or well-prepared soil. The seed of God’s love will take root. AMEN