Monthly Sermon Series: Sermon Offering for Sunday, July 12

June 15, 2020
By: 
The Rev. Canon Heather L. Melton, Staff Officer for the United Thank Offering

Please note: The August sermon will be available mid-July on our blog. You can find it here: https://unitedthankoffering.com/category/sermon-series/.

Matthew 13:1-9,18-23

The parable of the sower is one of those parables that is easy to breeze past because we feel like we know it. Many of us learned it as children, perhaps even planted seeds in a dish around rocks and things to see how the plants would grow. We’ve heard sermons that ask which type of soil our heart is and how to improve the quality of our soil to receive the seeds of faith that are scattered. This always makes writing a sermon challenging. I often wonder if the best response to this is to encourage you all to discuss it among yourselves and see what you think. But as I was considering this, I got to watch the sowing of seeds firsthand through my office window.

As spring began to unfold, my husband decided it was time to tackle the patchy grass in our backyard. He ordered seeds, worked on the sprinkler system, and got organic fertilizer into the soil. He did everything right in terms of preparing the soil for new seeds. While typing away on my computer one morning, I saw him go out into the yard with the seed spreader and cover the exposed soil with seeds. I returned to my work only to look up a moment after hearing the back door close, to notice that the birds came for a grass seed feast. Our winged friends must have been lying in wait on the roof or perhaps dispatched the bird version of a “tweet” to call all the birds of our town to the yard. It was an amazing bird party, complete with a banquet of seeds.

Birds are often villains in the interpretation of the original parable, but while watching them feast and chat with each other, I realized that an interesting part of the parable of the sower might be just beyond the experience between the sower and the soil. We know that the parable of the sower is about having our hearts, minds, and souls ready to receive the Good News of God in Christ and then live a life that reflects it. But what if the birds are a reminder about not getting to know exactly what good will come from sharing our faith or living our faith? You see, the seed that falls on the path and gets eaten by the birds is still Good News that is given and shared. There are unintended consequences for our actions, and one of those is that when we live a life of faith, we don’t get to choose who picks up on it. We are just scattering the seeds that were the fruit of seeds someone else sowed in our hearts. That’s the magic of plants: We can be meticulous in how we plant them, but in the end, the seeds interact with soil, wind, water, and animals and become a beautiful garden in spite of it all … but it might not look like the garden we intended, and that’s OK, too.

For me, watching the birds eat the grass seed, I realized how grateful after winter the birds were for an easy and safe meal. They were thrilled with the abundance of a food they don’t totally love but that was easily accessible. I then ordered bird seed and a feeder to direct the birds to a better meal that also wouldn’t inhibit our backyard’s grass. Now I watch the birds through my window as they chatter and feast. A friend had sent us a bird house for Christmas that I’ve added to the mix, along with the hummingbird feeder. A little bird ecosystem right outside of my office window is now thriving and reminding me that the Good News of the love of God will bear fruit in the way it needs to, in the midst of us, in spite of us, and through us, if we are willing to sow the seeds and let them fall where they may. The patch of bare ground also is visible through my window. That, too, reminds me that we can choose not to receive the Good News when we hear it, but the sower keeps coming back and trying because the God of love will not abandon us but will nurture us and fret over us until we can finally receive the seeds ourselves and bear fruit for others.

Today, I hope you’ll join me in reflecting on the ways in which the seeds of faith know no bounds, how they are picked up by birds and sown next to other plants that are thriving and how the soil is nurtured into production. How has God nurtured you? How have others benefited from your faith? How have you given thanks for the unexpected feasts in your life? Or simply, where is God sowing seeds in your life right now that you need to share with others?

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