Sow Anyway Mother’s Day Sermon
Rev. David J. Clark
We continue our sermon series Don’t Just Go Through It, Grow Through It! Jesus employed a ton of metaphors about seeds and soil and growth and harvest. We are exploring these growth images to see how they might inspire us to grow in our faith and our potential through these extraordinary times. I believe if you apply Jesus’ lessons about growth into your life right now, you are going to reap great spiritual benefits down the road. The seed planted today will lead to a great harvest. The key is to plant the right kind of seed.
Jesus talked about a sower throwing seed around seemingly willy nilly. Some winds up on the hard path where nothing grows, some in the rocks, some in the thorn bushes. He’s just reaching into his seed pouch and slinging it around. One would expect a farmer to be more careful, not to waste perfectly good seed in places you know it doesn’t have a chance.
That’s how Jesus got people’s attention. They’d ask, “Who does that?”
Seeds Mothers/Parents Plant
Well, we know. Moms, parents. They are forever scattering these little seeds, these little bits of advice, pearls of wisdom. I know my mom did. Wear a coat. Eat your veggies. Wash your hands. If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all. If all your friends jumped off a bridge would you do it too? Be careful. Oh, that’s what you are going to wear? Wear clean underwear because you might get into an accident. And if you get them mad enough, moms will plant the mother’s curse: I hope someday you have a kid exactly like you.
Some of the advice lands and grows. Some of the advice doesn’t. Some of the advice is good seed, but you have to be careful of the weeds that get sown in there as well.
After the sermon about good soil last week, one of our members emailed me about her mother’s garden, the lessons she shared and how she realized this week that the final piece of her end-of-life planning was what to do with her ashes when she’s gone. In her daughter’s beautiful garden.
Resisting the Seeds Jesus Plants
In the scripture, Jesus was talking about himself. His teachings are the seeds. Love your neighbor as yourself, turn the other cheek, forgive those who have hurt you, loosen the bonds of those who are suffering, be humble, give and you shall receive, make your life count for something more than your own desires, pray always and do not lose heart. All of that and more are the seeds of his message that his spread near and far.
Not everyone, however, was open to embracing those lessons. Some of the seed fell on the rocks and hard paths where it could not grow. That is some were too hard-hearted, set in their ways. Some try for a while, get all excited but fade away, some let their own weeds and cares of this world choke out his message.
Jesus spread his message to people who flat out rejected it and made him suffer for it, But that didn’t stop him. He sowed anyway. And for that, we can all be grateful. Because each of us can be so resistant to his messages. It’s hard stuff.
There are times I’m like, “But I don’t want to pray and trust. I’d rather worry and fret and complain. Turn the other cheek? Are you nuts? That hurt. I want an eye for an eye. I know you said repay no one evil for evil, but I think it would make me feel better, a little. What’s that, ‘Do your good works in secret so that you can be sure you aren’t doing it just to look good in the eyes of others. You’ve got to be joking!”
But Jesus keeps throwing that seed right at stubborn rock-headed me–and you! Sometimes when I open myself it lands and grows. This sower keeps after us, keeps sowing in our lives because he knows that those seeds take root and grow and produce the stuff that can transform individual lives and change the world.
Germination Takes Time, So Relax
Fun fact: Seeds can be buried for a long time before they ever grow. Some wildflowers in the forest need the heat from a forest fire to start their growth and can sit dormant for decades. National Geographic reported that a seed from the ice age, 32,000 years ago was successfully grown. They found three palm seeds 2,000 years old near where the Dead Sea Scrolls were found and successfully grew one of those seeds. Those seeds Jesus plants sometimes have a chance. Be patient.
Try imagining that there is some seed of goodness or possibility or awareness or appreciation in you. Maybe this coronavirus time is a forest fire kind of thing that cracks open the seed in you. Something new can grow. The thing about seeds is they must sit there in the dark soil for a while. You can’t rush the seed, what will be will be revealed in due time.
During this coronavirus time, you might see people posting about all the exciting things they are doing and learning and you feel like just getting from one day to the next is the best you can do. They post, “I read all of Shakespeare and learned the secret arts of Thai cooking and now I am fluent in Arabic. And you are thinking, uh, today I put on pants–almost. That is okay. Relax. This may be for you a time to trust and let things be and see what grows out of it later.
Seeds are smart. Have you ever noticed that it doesn’t matter which way you plant a seed in the soil? It always figures out which way is down to send the roots and which way is up to send the shoot. Don’t fret—the seed opening up in you knows which way is up.
Be a Sower
Jesus believed the kingdom of God breaks through into this world when the seeds of his message take root and grow. As followers, we are invited to be world-changers, seed scatterers through our encouragement of others, and through our responses to everyday situations. When we embrace that message of hope and love and joy and peace things happen, we rise to a new level, those around us rise, too.
I think the opening of the Prayer of St. Francis gets at this.
Lord, make me an instrument of your peace
The parable of the sower helps us remember that not every seed we sow is going to produce the way we’d want it to.
It’s important not to get hung up on “why bother,” thinking? Why waste kindness on someone who doesn’t appreciate it? Why waste healing on someone who doesn’t want to be well. Why bother to try to lift up those who will only fall again? Why give to the ungrateful?
Why bother? Because you never know what might grow and produce beyond our wildest dreams. This is the mystery of how God works and this is how God’s kingdom comes about. You never know when that kindness, that word of grace, that example of generosity is going to ignite the growth in someone else.
You aren’t responsible for the success of what you plant. The seed’s growth is not up to you and your time You are only responsible for planting it. I want to encourage you today to keep sowing goodness and grace in all the ways you can however you can and whenever you can. Sling that seed willy nilly, because you never know.
In a take-off from a famous poem called Anyway, here is the takeaway for the day.
Some of the seeds we sow will yield only temporary results.
Some of the seeds we sow will get choked out by the weeds of overwhelming opposition.
Some of the seeds we sow will lie dormant for years and years.
Some of the seeds we sow will seem like a complete waste.
Because we never know when a seed might find a fertile place to flourish.
We just don’t know…
And even if you don’t think you’ll be in an accident today. Listen to your mother and wear clean underwear—or at least pants anyway.