Matthew 13:1-9, 18-23
Do you know the story of Johnny Appleseed? You and I can tell how many seeds there are in an apple, but only God can tell how many apples there are in a seed.
- Sowing in the morning, sowing seeds of kindness, Sowing in the noontide and the dewy eve; Waiting for the harvest, and the time of reaping, We shall come rejoicing, bringing in the sheaves.
- Refrain: Bringing in the sheaves, bringing in the sheaves, We shall come rejoicing, bringing in the sheaves; Bringing in the sheaves, bringing in the sheaves, We shall come rejoicing, bringing in the sheaves.
- Sowing in the sunshine, sowing in the shadows, Fearing neither clouds nor winter’s chilling breeze; By and by the harvest, and the labor ended, We shall come rejoicing, bringing in the sheaves.
- Going forth with weeping, sowing for the Master, Though the loss sustained our spirit often grieves; When our weeping’s over, He will bid us welcome, We shall come rejoicing, bringing in the sheaves.
Today we’re going to look at the parable of the Sower. Specifically, I want to focus on the Seed. You see, when we surrender ourselves to being a follower of Christ, we are also called to become Sowers of the Word of God. We are called to plant seeds for God’s Kingdom.
A. First, we are called to plant seeds of encouragement.
We are living in a pretty discouraging time. People need to hear more than a single word of encouragement. We need to be sowers of encouragement.
B. We are called to plants seeds of encouragement in the lives of everyone we touch, our children, grand children, coworkers, neighbors, the people in the seats next to you, in front of you and behind you. We’re called to plant seeds of encouragement for the Kingdom of God.
Mom looked out the window and saw her daughter in the newly planted flower garden. Her daughter was strategically placing artificial flowers around the flower garden. Mom came out and asked the girl what she was doing. The little girl looked up at her mother and said, “I’m putting them here to encourage the real ones.”
That little girl got the idea. We’re called to plant seeds of encouragement.
The New Testament does not demand that we understand Christ. Rather, The Gospel offers the burden-lightening insight that Christ understands us. We do not have to understand Easter to experience Easter.
Christ’s capacity for understanding defies our comprehension. This one who inspires magnificent visions also ministers amid shattered dreams. This one known as the Prince of Peace does not shy away from chaos and conflict. This one who taught us to pray accepts people who are so troubled that they can’t pray. This one who offers salvation identifies with people confounded by feelings of lostness. This one who offers unmatched encouragement knows better than any other the depths of discouragement.
Do you hear? Do you grasp the meaning? If you did not sense the joy of Easter morning, if you have not felt Christ rise, if you cannot shout hallelujah, that does not mean that you must drop your head and take off toward Emmaus or some other place to give up. Christ understands. He understands you. So, Christ appears.
The presence of Christ among us does not depend upon the quality of our understanding of Christ or even upon the nature of our reception of his presence. Christ appears in the midst of people not even looking for him.
A. Second, we are called to plant seeds of hope.
If we don’t have hope, we’re dead in the water. Hope feeds our soul and gives wings to our faith. Hope keeps us going. Hope is a like a flashlight in the dark.
The movie Desperaux is about a mouse who would rather read books than eat them like all the other mice. Tiny and graced with oversized ears, Despereaux was born too big for his little world. Refusing to live his life cowering like a mouse, he befriends a Princess named Pea and learns to read stories of knights, dragons and fair maidens. Banished from Mouseworld for being more man than mouse, Despereaux is rescued by another outcast, Roscuro, who also wants to hear the tales. After Princess Pea is kidnapped, Despereaux discovers he is the only one who can rescue her, and that even the tiniest mouse can find the courage of a knight in shining armor.
In one scene the Narrator says: “Did a book ever speak to you? Almost like it was written for you? Desperaux loved it all, every bit of it, the truth, the justice, the bravery, the sword fighting. He even loved things you wouldn’t suspect. The story said she was a prisoner but that wasn’t totally true because she had hope. And whenever you have hope you’re never really anybody’s prisoner.”
The scene zooms in on a princess looking out a window. She says to herself, “Someday my prince will come.” The Narrator asks, “But how did she know that?” And Desperaux asks, “Yeah, how did she know that?”
For us it’s because of “Hope” born of Christ. William Barclay in his commentary on Romans wrote: “The Christian hope is the hope which has seen everything and endured everything, and has still not despaired, because it believes in God. The Christian hope is not hope in the human spirit, in human goodness, in human endurance, in human achievement; the Christian hope is hope in the power of God.” (1)
Peter reminds us in his first letter: “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! By his great mercy he has given us a new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you.” 1 Peter 1:3-4 (NRSV) Because of the living hope we have been born into through Christ, we are called to plant seeds of hope.
A. Third, we are called to plant seeds of faith.
As Sowers, we are called to plants seeds. That’s our job, to make sure the seed is planted and the Word spread. Ours isn’t a difficult task, it’s not rocket science as they say. We are simply called to plants seeds. We may never see the Harvest of what we’ve planted. We may never see the fruit of our labors but if we don’t plant the seeds, there won’t be a Harvest. We are called to plants seeds of faith.
That’s exactly what Blanche does in the movie New In Town. The movie stars Renee Zellweger who plays Lucy, a high-powered executive consultant in love with her upscale Miami lifestyle who is sent to a middle of nowhere town in Minnesota to oversee the restructuring of a blue collar manufacturing plant. After enduring a frosty reception from the locals, icy roads and freezing weather, she warms up to the small town’s charm, and eventually finds herself being accepted by the community. When she’s ordered to close down the plant and put the entire community out of work, she’s forced to reconsider her goals and priorities, and finds a way to save the town.
In this scene Blanche has given Lucy a present. Lucy says, “Oh, blanche, you didn’t have to get me anything.”
Blanche says, “Oh I didn’t get it, not like ‘store bought’ get it. I made it.” Lucy says thank you and takes it. Blanche goes on, “Just in case you want to start scrapbooking.” They look through the gift and come to a very forlorn picture of Lucy, who asks when Blanche took it. Blanche says, “Oh, it was awhile ago. You looked like you had the weight of the world on your shoulders. So alone. But you know, Lucy, you’re never really alone. Jesus understands what you’re going through. He’s there for you. And so am I.”
B. You and I are called to be Sowers of the seeds of Faith. We may never know how those seeds grow or if they ever do grow. Or in whom they grow. We can sow seeds of faith, hope and encouragement.That’s what we are all called to do. We’re not called to stand around and judge the readiness of the other person’s soil. We’re not called to judge whether or not they are worthy of the seed we have to sow. We’re simply called to sow and plant the seeds of faith, hope and encouragement.
William Barclay tells this story related by a friend of his. In the church where he worshiped there was a lonely old man, old Thomas. Old Thomas had outlived all his friends and hardly anyone knew him. When Thomas died, this friend had the feeling that there would be no one to go to the funeral so he decided to go, so there might be someone to follow the old man to his last resting-place.
There was no one else, and it was a miserable wet day. The funeral reached the cemetery, and at the gate there was a soldier waiting. An officer, but on his raincoat there was badges of rank. He came to the grave side for the ceremony. And when it was over, he stepped forward before the open grave and swept his hand to a salute that might have been given to a king. The friend walked away with the soldier, and as they walked, the wind blew the soldier’s raincoat open to reveal the shoulder badges of a brigadier general.
The general said, “You’re probably wondering what I am doing here. Years ago Thomas was my Sunday School teacher; I was a wild lad and a sore trial to him. He never knew what he did for me, but I owe everything I am or will be to old Thomas, and today I had to come to salute him at the end.”
Old Thomas did not know what he was doing, he was just teaching Sunday School.
None of us ever know what we’re doing. We’re simply called to keep sowing seed. We have to leave the rest to God. We know what kind of soil we’ve become, we know how valuable the seed is. Our job is to sow seeds of encouragement, hope and faith.
Hark, the Voice of Jesus Calling By: Daniel March
Hark, the voice of Jesus calling, “Who will go and work today? Fields are white and harvests waiting, Who will bear the sheaves away?” Loud and long the master calls you; Rich reward he offers free. Who will answer, gladly saying, “Here am I. Send me, send me”?
If you cannot speak like angels, If you cannot preach like Paul, You can tell the love of Jesus; You can say he died for all. If you cannot rouse the wicked With the judgment’s dread alarms, You can lead the little children To the Savior’s waiting arms.
If you cannot be a watchman, Standing high on Zion’s wall, Pointing out the path to heaven, Offering life and peace to all, With your prayers and with your bounties You can do what God demands; You can be life faithful Aaron, Holding up the prophet’s hands.
Let none hear you idly saying, “There is nothing I can do,” While the multitudes are dying And the master calls for you. Take the task he gives you gladly; Let his work your pleasure be. Answer quickly when he calls you, “Here am I. Send me, send me!”
Hymn # 318 from Lutheran Worship Author: Joseph Barnby Tune: Galilean 1st Published in: 1869
Bibliography 1. William Barclay, The Letter to the Romans 2. William Barclay, The Daily Study Bible, CD-ROM edition (Liguori, MO: Liguori Faithware, 1996) used by permission of Westminster/John Knox Press
This message from Billy D. Strayhorn is brought to you by Pastor Kenneth Taglauer at Grace Lutheran Church, Mountain View, Arkansas.