"A Powerful Word of Hope"
I’ve been waiting for this service for quite some time! It is so good to be gathering for worship again! I know it’s not the same, but we’re together in God’s beautiful Acres, and that’s special for me! Thanks for coming, and for being careful with your health and the health of others. I’m interested to see how these services go, and in early August we’ll be sending you another survey to see how you’re feeling about getting together and what you think about the future. Please respond to the survey! The last one was immensely helpful and the next one will be particularly important for our congregation.
Over the years I have planted a lot of grass seed. I seeded our whole yard and groomed it into a fairly good yard. I have patched many times for winterkill, too much shade, and this year we ended up with a lot of dead patches from the dogs. I guess both the humans and dogs got a little lackadaisical about where they did their jobs during the winter. So, I’ve been trying to fill in the bigger dead spots.
In the process I’ve realized that grass seed that is 1½ yrs. old doesn’t like to germinate! I had some specifically designed for dog spots and hadn’t used it yet, so I thought since it was still sealed it would be okay. Needless to say, it looks just the same as it did when I planted it. I even added more seed like the farmer in the Bible, but to no avail. I’ll need to start over I guess.
Jesus taught that the Word of God (Bible) is like seed that is sown on different types of ground: rocky, hard packed path, among thorns, on the good soil. He doesn’t say anything about seed that has gotten old.
The parable Jesus tells is about a farmer who goes out to sow his seeds for his crop. The tradition in Palestine at the time was to cast the seed by hand, then plow it into the soil. The farmer goes out and starts throwing his precious seed everywhere! He casts it on the hardened, crusty, soil of the path people walk on; he casts the seed on the rocky ground where there is seemingly more rock than dirt; the farmer cast the seed in areas resembling thick thistle patches, prickly ash, and buckthorn; what was left fell on the good soil the farmer had cleared and prepared for his field. This is about as inefficient as it gets, isn’t it?! Ask today’s farmers if this policy would be effective for them and they would probably just laugh! You wouldn’t throw your garden seeds or grass seed on your driveway, either. You wouldn’t waste good seeds by tossing them into the woods or into the heavy brush. Any farmer who would do that would be called ‘reckless.’ They probably wouldn’t be farming for very long.
But Jesus says that the precious seed is like the Word of God. The treasured Word of God and the awesome grace of God are cast about by God everywhere without any regard for where they might be most effective. God is that reckless farmer who just scatters the seeds of faith, love, and salvation everywhere for anyone to grab on to and find life.
It sounds crazy—that God would be so reckless and extravagant with the precious commodity of the life and death of Jesus Christ—the grace and salvation that God has shared for us.
Isaiah compares the life-giving power of the rain and snow to the Word of God—a word that comes to us in Jesus. This Word will accomplish what God has planned for it. The Word of God will bring life to those who hear it; the Word will change the lives of those who follow it, and it will nurture and sustain all who keep in touch with the Word of God.
Martin Luther taught that the Bible is the Living Word of God for us—a word that reaches into the hearts of those who hear it, to bring about a change – a turning away from the former things which once were important to us. This Living Word also reaches deep into our hearts to open us up to the ways that God works to reach out to us and bring us back to Him. This could be through a friend, an acquaintance, or even a stranger who reaches out to you in a special way that shares God’s love.
Isn’t this what our world needs now? We have an extravagant God who has promised to come to us and to save us from all the sin, terror, death, evil, and hatred that inflicts our world. God made His promise real when Jesus came to live with us and to die for us. And the Holy Spirit is with us as we live and work in God’s world.
God must be so disappointed in how things are going in the world today. The division, fighting, and even hatred are threatening to tear us apart and push people away from the grace of God instead of bringing them to God’s grace.
God casts a wide swath when it comes to planting His seed. He spares no seed but shares His grace with everyone. The way it is treated by folks tells about the kind of soil God’s seed lands on. Jesus explains the parable and the ones who hear and are receptive to God’s Word. The evil one is active in the world today judging from the violence, hatred, dissension, and way we treat one another. Things are falling right into the plans of the evil one as they are now.
How can we, as God’s people, reach out to heal the brokenness and division, the hatred and violence? How can we reach out to welcome all people into the fellowship of God’s Kingdom? The more we share God’s love the more we heal the brokenness and drive the evil one from our midst. We know that the Holy Spirit is here and that we need to lean on and trust that Spirit to work among God’s people.
God’s grace is extravagant. God’s love is overwhelming. It is scattered without regard to race, social standing, or political views. God is the God of all people and casts His grace to all who will accept it. Let us be people who share that grace and reach out to those who are not filled with His Spirit and His peace.