Today we extend Vacation Bible School from last week’s Tuesday and Wednesday and Thursday evenings to this Sunday morning as we turn the Gospel into a story we experience, beginning with a sack.
Everyone who listened as Jesus began saying, “A sower went out to sow…” could see a person with a bag suspended from a strap, reaching in to grab a handful of seeds and fling them with a casting motion across the ground, to fall everywhere: on stones, dry dirt, shallow soil, among weeds, and a path beaten down with people’s feet.
Some didn’t even fall into the ground; but were whisked away by the winds or snatched up by birds.
(Walk with sack suspended from shoulder while reaching in and making gestures of casting across the congregation seated in the pews.) Jesus hoped His listeners would receive the intended message cast in the Sower’s actions.
In hearing the Gospel read to us, it’s our turn to personalize the story:
The sack is the Bible filled with the seeds of words Jesus, through His story and His life, casts across the soil of the life of His listeners.
Some seeds will be snatched away by the wind of other distractions and challenges and charges carried on the voice of people intent on pulling them away from God, or by the media and internet’s competing images and personalities that work at being more appealing.
Some seeds will be carried off by the birds of busyness and other activities and places that leave no time to grow into a relationship with God and the company of God’s worshiping, serving people.
Other seeds will fall on people who are like dry dirt that hasn’t let the watery vows of Baptism-Confirmation sink in, or like the shallow soil of the temporary entertainment of worship that is a good show – for a fleeting moment, and the exciting experience of a spiritual high that soon falls flat and sinks into in the everyday struggle to live out the promises made in Baptism and accepted in Confirmation.
The “sun” of other attractions soon scorches the seeds of a shallow, rootless commitment.
Other seeds will fall into people’s lives that are a weed patch of contradictions and conflicting allegiances that choke and strangle to death the breath of God’s breathed in presence.
Here we are – receiving God’s Word brought to life in Jesus, the Storyteller Who becomes the Sower casting the seeds of His life.
Here we are in worship that begins at the font, calling us to remember and re-claim the water-like Spirit of God poured anew each day into our life, so that we can take a deep breath and pray, “Fall afresh on the soil of my life that I may yield the fruits of the Spirit.”
(With each word someone in the congregation raises the sign and holds it up). Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Generosity, Faithfulness, Gentleness, Self-control.
Look around and see these nine gifts are growing in the church in this place, in your life and in mine.
Some are a harvest of all nine, some of eight, of seven, of six, of five, of four, of three, of two, of one, with each valued not for the count but for the variety that makes Jesus’ followers a flower bed, a garden patch, an orchard, in which no one plant is prized more than another, for each bears the same label that reads:
“We are God’s soil into which God’s Good News in Jesus is cast abundantly, and unrestricted.”
A gardener found a large box of wild flower seeds with a date indicating it was two years past the time for planting, but he opened the box and cast the contents across a field filled with weeds and large patches of exposed ground. In a few weeks green stems broke through and soon the entire ground was covered with flowers that caused a passersby to exclaim, “How beautiful!”
We are God’s field into which Jesus broadly casts the seeds of His life to grow and bear the fruits of the Spirit and be a display for all to see and give glory to God.
And so, we sing our every morning growing song:
Hymn # 283 – “Spirit of the living God”