The Sower and the Seed
A homily by The Rev. Abigail Buckley given at Church of the Resurrection, Eugene, OR
July 12 & 13, 2014, Proper 10, Year A, RCL
Opposition has intensified
Hate grows like a virus
A cancer spreading from Pharisee to Pharisee
Fearful, afraid, worried
About this man, Jesus
Who does he think he is?
Walking into town
Claiming to be the Messiah
Performing miracles on the Sabbath,
There are rules, laws
He ignores them. Overturns them.
Eats with tax collectors and prostitutes
And he calls himself the Messiah.
How dare he?
Opposition has intensified,
The Pharisees are plotting
Jesus has shut his own family out,
Claiming that all people are his brothers and sisters.
Who is this man? How dare he say that?
Who would shut out his own mother,
And yet have the audacity to claim he’s the messiah?
It can’t be. He can’t be. Opposition is heating up.
It seems like he can’t catch a break.
So, Jesus goes to the shore,
To where it all began,
When he first asked a few fisherman to follow him.
Like the shores of the Jordan where his cousin John baptized him.
It calmed him. It soothed him.
It’s where he went when it felt as if nothing was going well.
It’s where he went when he had nothing left,
When he didn’t know what to do next,
When he didn’t know how to get people to listen.
The miracles didn’t convince them.
His words didn’t convince them.
Some days it felt like his Father had sent him
on an impossible mission,
a fool’s errand
but still he carried on,
because in his heart of hearts,
he knew there was no other way,
that he could do no other.
The peace, the prayer, the silence
down by the seashore is shattered,
cut short as people begin to gather on the shores,
first a few, and then many
hoping that one of this man’s
now-famous miracles may fall upon them
But rather than heal
Jesus gets into the boat
Teaching the crowds gathered
Alright, Abba, he sighs.
I’ll keep trying…
But these people can’t listen
I mean the Pharisees,
They plot against me, even as I speak
My disciples try so hard
But still don’t get it
But I’m not going to give up…
They settle in
Like dutiful students
In an elementary school classroom
A hush falls over the crowd,
Not even a child cries.
All eyes are fixed on Jesus.
Jesus begins telling a story…
Of a sower, a seed, and a field.
A farmer sitting in the crowd,
Unknowingly listens on
He’s had a bad year…many had.
But none fared worse than he.
The crops aren’t growing; his family is hungry
His mouth is dry and his lips stick together,
Cracked and bleeding from lack of water and the heat.
He’s skeptic at best about this Jesus fellow
But he’d heard about the man’s miracles
And he was down on his luck
So seeing this man couldn’t hurt
And then this Jesus fellow starts telling a story
The farmer down on his luck sighs
Just his luck, he thought, A story.
Just what I need
To waste precious daylight
Listening to a story.
What good’s a story?
What a waste of time, he thought.
If this man’s really who he claims to be
Can’t he just wave his hands,
Make his troubles go away?
Why waste time with a story?
Did he really just say that,
Thinks the farmer low on luck?!?!!
Spreading from chest to arms,
To fists, now clenching.
What kind of idiot sower would just scatter his seeds everywhere?!?!?
What a fool!!
What a waste!!!
No sower in their right mind
Would do that,
Would scatter their precious seeds, willy nilly.
How could he let some fall on the path,
The rocky ground and the thorns??!
The farmer down on his luck gasped,
His breath caught in his throat,
His heart skipping,
Like one who’s just caught sight of his life’s love.
30?!? 60?!? 100 fold?!!
A good year is TWENTY fold.
A GOOD year.
And yet this man is claiming 30, 60, 100 fold yield?!?!
That’s inconceivable, nonsensical, impossible
Thinks the farmer down on his luck
The farmer is now listening
If this man is for real
Well, if there’s any chance he’s for real
I have to follow this man,
Thinks the farmer down on his luck.
Then he sighs,
Doubt creeping in,
Like rain through cracks in the ceiling,
Trickling down into his mind,
Hardening his heart,
Sure that this kingdom,
Isn’t for him.
That it won’t happen,
That it’s just all talk,
Just like these politicians
Talking the talk,
But unable to deliver
Every year promise of change,
Every year, it remains the same
They get riches
Us farmers, we get nothin’ but a hard life.
The farmer down on his luck
Doesn’t walk away though
He is fixated, something holds him there
This kingdom, this leader, this teacher,
This man, Jesus…he’s different
Something nags him
Story goes he eats with tax collectors and prostitutes,
Rich and poor alike,
He stands up against the Pharisees
No one does that,
He shakes things up.
No war horse, no weapons
And this God, that he calls Abba
Isn’t like the other gods
So, if Jesus is the seed
And this God he calls Abba
Is the sower
That’s something different….
The farmer down on his luck
Disperses with the rest of the crowd
Back to his home,
His hungry family and his problems,
But he’s changed,
He can’t shake the story by this Jesus fellow,
something’s different about him, he thinks….
[END PART 1-PAUSE]
This is not how we’d pictured God
God should be mighty and powerful
A great warrior
More of an Arnold than an Oprah
Helping us to win all wars,
To be prosperous and rich,
Never want for a thing,
Fed until our bellies are too full,
To eat another bite.
What’s up with this God Scripture paints then?
This God is different.
Jesus is a different kind of king.
The kingdom he speaks of is topsy-turvy
It’s unsettling, unnerving,
Makes us uncomfortable.
Last week, this king, this messiah,
Is foretold as riding a donkey, not a warhorse.
What’s up with that?
This king, this messiah,
Doesn’t win us wars
This king, this messiah, this warrior
Leads to complete and total disarmament.
This king, this messiah,
Should not be described as a seed,
If we had our druthers.
I mean a seed.
Are you for real?!
Something so small and unnoticeable,
Something so fragile
That can fall on the wrong ground and die,
That can be killed with a drought
(even in good soil)
This king, this messiah
Should be more like Thor
Muscled and swinging a giant hammer
More like a bomb, an explosion
Something with more…panache, y’know?
Upsetting the world in a loud, noticeable,
Not born in some backwater town
In a poor place
To a carpenter.
Seriously, a seed?
Oh come now.
Complete and Utter Madness.
A kingdom where the poor are blessed,
The sick are healed,
Where love is law,
Peace is a given,
Where the trees and the hills sing out with joy.
A pleasant dream, but this man, this Jesus
Must be nuts
[End of Part 2-PAUSE]
There is no condemnation in Jesus.
That’s not how God rolls.
That’s not his way.
There is no condemnation in Jesus says Paul.
Do you get the gravity of his words?
Nothing. Zippo. Nada.
Nothing you have done, said, been, will be…
None of it condemns you.
If you weren’t already reeling from surprise
Now’s a good time to let it all sink in…
God isn’t a wasteful sower,
But rather abounding in generosity,
To the point of seeming absurdity.
You don’t have to become good soil,
Or else you’re condemned;
It doesn’t work like that.
Good or Bad
Rocky or Thorny
Landing in a field or on the path
In droughts or good weather,
It doesn’t matter.
No one is “bad” soil.
No one is “good” soil.
We’re all both.
A mixture of all.
God is reaching out to you through Jesus.
That’s why he sent Jesus, the Word.
So listen or not,
Heard of heart
Or heart wide open
Skeptic or faithful
It doesn’t matter.
We’re all both; We’re all neither.
That’s the thing.
Sometimes we can listen;
sometimes we won’t;
sometimes we don’t;
sometimes we can’t.
But that doesn’t stop God.
God doesn’t give up.
It doesn’t matter to God.
It does not matter.
There is no condemnation, no separation from him.
God has committed himself to us.
We are his people.
Thorns may grow up,
And choke out the Word.
God still reaches out.
Rocks block us, harden us,
Our hearts turn to stone
And God waits patiently,
Turning our heart back to flesh.
God still reaches out,
No fine print.
Like rain that falls,
Snow that flurries,
The Word, Jesus, came down to us,
Not to return until he’s reached us,
Until the seed is planted.
God is so committed,
He even sends his son Jesus,
Willing to let his only son die,
If that’s what it takes for us to hear, to follow.
Kingdom living, kingdom teaching
Obliterates all paradigms,
Of efficiency and selfishness,
Of how the world should be,
Of how the world should work,
Of how the world can be,
And replaces it with abundant generosity,
Commitment no matter what,
Not caring if we are receptive at first or not,
Willing to try
even with those whose hearts are calcified,
completely turned to stone.
Kingdom living, kingdom teaching is nonsensical,
And some may say, downright crazy,
Utterly topsy turvy.
The world as we know it…
Yeah, not anymore.
Not after an encounter with Christ.
Not possible, you might say.
Never gonna happen, you might think.
I say, no. I believe.
God reaches down,
Wanting you to join this-
This madness, this kingdom
This world unlike what we’ve
Been taught and seen
A world we falter to believe is possible,
And yet, as Christians, we commit to anyway.
All you have to do is say you’re in.
I’m in…are you?