Planting Seeds for Good

“Seeds to Sow in Shreveport”
Delivered to Church for the Highlands
Sunday, July 12, 2020    Rev. Dr. John Henson

What’s your favorite summer vegetable or fruit–fresh corn on the cob, beans, squash, tomatoes, a juicy peach, or how about watermelon? We are surrounded by truckloads of produce at the grocery store or at the farmer’s market, but we don’t always think about where it all comes from–seeds. Somewhere and at some time months ago, farmers planted seeds that turned into the bounty of produce we get to enjoy this time of year. So be sure to thank a farmer the next time you see one.

Jesus told a story about a farmer who sowed seeds consistently and liberally to all kinds of soils and with various responses. The seeds go everywhere as he throws them out indiscriminately. As a result, they land in various soils and their success as seeds is determined by which one they are in–trampled, rocky, thorny, and “good.” The only soil that enables the seed to be healthy and productive is the good soil. Jesus told the story at a time when he is encountering various responses to his words of God’s kingdom. He has been busy throwing out God’s words to people everywhere he went, aware that not everyone who was hearing him was actually listening. And yet he didn’t stop speaking and teaching with the words God had given him to share. He continued on with steadfast trust in God’s awareness of where the words were going and for God’s ability to bring forth a bountiful harvest from people who were receptive. Jesus’ intent for the story was to encourage his disciples to do the same with God’s words in their world, trusting that God would do something amazing with their words and actions.

As followers of Jesus in our world today, we are to spread the words and work of God’s kingdom liberally. This means that we don’t worry too much about oversowing or pre-judging where we think words of the kingdom are to go. It’s wrong for us to think that there’s only so much to share; that God is selective, calling on us to be restrictive with our work in the world; holding what God wants us to share from people and places we don’t think will be productive. Who would’ve thought the people Jesus called as his disciples would be like good soil and worthy of any investment of his time, words, and efforts? And yet he bombarded them with seeds. We are to do the same with the seeds of God’s kingdom we’ve been given. We must share them like they will never run out, unbothered by where they may end up.

Casting seeds of God’s kingdom in our world is also to be done persistently. A farmer doesn’t get started seeding only to stop for a while to do something else or to wait around to see what happens. Nor should we lack persistence as we seed our world with the kingdom of God. We have a job to do, one that requires our ongoing commitment and work. The size of the impact we can have in this world isn’t completely dependent on us but our part is vital to the production God wants to bring in our world. As Robert Louis Stevenson said, “Don’t judge each day by the harvest you reap but by the seeds that you plant.” Nothing much good will grow in our world if we aren’t doing our job of getting God’s words and works out of our churches and into the soil of the people and issues in our neighborhood, city, and world. We are not called to be careful, casual, passive seed sowers for God, only going out into the field when we have time, when the weather is good, or when the soil is perfect. We are, rather, to be persistent with this work God has given us for such a time as this.

When we cast seeds of God’s kingdom liberally and persistently, we trust that God will do something amazing with them as they land in people and places that are receptive. Right now, it may be hard to see that any good is coming from churches. We may be stuck in thinking that churches can’t make a difference unless and until the virus is under control and things get back to normal. The reasoning that leads us to think we can’t scatter seed into the world if we can’t gather to get them is shortsighted and reveals our lack of understanding of God’s system of agriculture. It also overlooks the reality that we don’t trust that God can give us what we need outside of the walls of a building; that what God wants the world to have from us has to be packaged and dispensed in only one way, maybe even with our particular brand on the cover. But that’s not how God has ever made the kingdom of heaven operate in our world. God has repeatedly shown a willingness to shake up our systems, turn our things upside down, and devise workarounds to our methods when we have forgotten that we are farmers or when we’ve become possessive of the seeds we are to be sewing.

Wouldn’t it be better if we just trusted God to be God when it comes to what we are to do with the seeds? What might happen in our world right now if we went out into it with our work and with full trust that God will bring great things when we do so? Think about what happens, for example, when we share food with the hungry, clothes for the under-clothed, loans for the unbanked, encouragement for the discouraged, and justice for the oppressed. Think of all the good that can come for BIPOC in Shreveport when we use the resources and voices God has given to us to be allies for them in our economy, our schools, our courthouses, and our healthcare systems. We have a lot of seeds for these areas and we have a lot of God to trust as we scatter them.

In his book Star Struck, astronomer Dr. David H. Bradstreet writes:

Our planet is home to some 10 to 14 million species of living things. Consider the lowly dandelion. Found on all the Earth’s continents, these tenacious plants seem to flourish anywhere and everywhere (particularly where fussy gardeners wish they wouldn’t). Dandelion flower heads are perfectly designed for maximum seed creation and dispersal. Each yellow, flowering head can disperse 50 to 175 seeds to the winds. One single dandelion plant can create more than two thousand seeds.

The next time you pick one in your yard or make a wish when you blow the flowers off of one, think about how amazing that is. Think about how God has created and equipped us as a church to be seed spreaders, multiplying God’s words and work throughout our world. As we begin a new week, may we allow God to blow us out into our world to spread the seeds we’ve been given.

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