Weekly Devotion for July 3, 2023
By Sue D'Alessio
Jesus went out of the house and sat beside the sea. Such great crowds gathered around him that he got into a boat and sat there, while the whole crowd stood on the beach. And he told them many things in parables, saying, “Listen! A sower went out to sow. And as he sowed, some seeds fell on the path, and the birds came and ate them up. Other seeds fell on rocky ground, where they did not have much soil, and they sprang up quickly, since they had no depth of soil. But when the sun rose, they were scorched; and since they had no root, they withered away. Other seeds fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked them. Other seeds fell on good soil and brought forth grain, some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty. Let anyone with ears listen!” (Matthew 13:1-9)
What kind of foolish farmer is described in this parable? Any capable gardener farmer tills and fertilizes and prepares the garden soil with great attention and then carefully plants the just right amount of seeds in well-groomed rows. No farmer scatters seed so liberally without care for where the seeds land. That is a huge waste of time, seeds, and investment in the future of the farm or garden. No worthy farmer scatters seeds without planning or thought, like the farmer in this parable. Yet this is the primary message of this parable – describing God’s foolish generosity, as well as implying this is how we are to live as disciples of Christ.
Yet we often use this parable to judge. We ask, what kind of ground are you (hard, shallow, rocky, thorny? meagerly fruitful or abundantly fruitful?)? We judge other Christians or churches – how fruitful are they? Or we judge that a church or member of the congregation or pastor isn’t fruitful because they are too shallow, or that they are thorny (difficult) people, and on. We look at others from the outside, not able to see their struggles and challenges and judge their lack of fruitfulness. We compete to be the “hundredfold” people or churches and then think we are better-than-the-others. Not always, of course, but we all do this at times.
Meanwhile, Jesus is out there spreading seeds of grace and joy and laughter and zest and hope and comfort and healing and presence, and fruitfulness and love with abandon. I can imagine Jesus dancing in delight, singing songs of planting and harvesting, as he scatters the fruits of God’s Spirit wherever they fly. No matter where they land, they serve purpose – seeds which don’t sprout can be food for the birds or critters in the soil; seeds which grow and wither or get choked out become fertilizer to help make next year’s soil healthier; seeds which grow are harvested and celebrated in whatever amount they are fruitful. It’s all part of the cosmic pattern of God’s lavish love.
Sometimes we are the withered or weedy ones. Sometimes we are the fruitful ones – at times, abundant, at other times, with barely enough. And still God continues to scatter the seeds. Sometimes we judge others. Sometimes we rejoice in the harvest. And still God scatters the seeds and joyfully, expectantly, waits for and watches over the harvest, however it comes.
As disciples, we are invited into the dance, to sing with gusto, to scatter our ministries and skills and God’s gifts with abandon, no matter the outcome. We are invited to grow, and we are invited to sow. We are invited to scatter, and we are invited to the banquet table of God’s harvest, where, in God’s cosmic pattern, there is more than enough for everyone.
God of the cosmos and eternity, God of this place and moment, thank you. Thank you for your wide and welcoming banquet table, where every seed, every person, every one, is accounted for and welcome and belongs. Help us to live in the generosity and hospitality of your grace. Help us to scatter the seeds you have given us, to increase the blessing and justice you scatter so liberally and abundantly. In the name of Christ we pray. Amen.