In the ancient middle east, planting grain meant the sower walked through the field carrying a bag of seed. As they made their way across the ground, they’d hurl handfuls of grain into the air, using wide, sweeping movements. Seeds would fall where they were flung, in the tilled earth and in the areas around the field. It is a hopeful, abundant and indiscriminant way to plant.
Some of the seed will surely fall in the worn places, where footsteps have hardened the ground into a path. That seed is more likely to be carried away by hungry birds than to sprout and grow. Others will fall in stony places which reminds me of the rocky Appalachian soil around here. That seed may grow for a bit, but with the rocks blocking their chance to send down deep and steady roots, the seedlings will probably wilt in the sun or be blown over by the wind. There will be seed that fall among thorns and other invasive plants. There, the seed must battle for the resources necessary to grow. If there are not enough rain and nutrients in the soil, the well-established weeds will surely win.
However, most of the seed will fall on good soil. Rich, nutrient dense, and ready to sustain growth. Seeds there are fed by rains and decaying plant matter. Seeds that are in a good place to sprout and grow, to take root, and eventually to yield an abundant harvest.
Soil. You might think the question here is which type of soil are you – but not quite. I want to ask, which type of soil are you today? Sometimes we are ready to nurture and help the seed of God’s word of love & hope & transformation grow and bear fruit. Sometimes we are well-equipped and will provide an abundant harvest of all the things God hopes for the world. But other times, we are not. Sometimes, we are more like a beaten down path with resources likely there, but hard to make use of. Sometimes, we are like the rocky place where it is difficult for God’s word to take firm root, where uncertainty will wilt or blow it over. Other times, struggles and conflict, the thorns of life, will choke out the growing word of God.
Instead of criticizing and judging ourselves for being like some less-than-ideal type of soil, I’d like to invite us instead to find ways to nurture in ourselves good soil, where the seeds of God’s word will take root and grow. This may look different for each of us, but will surely include a mix of rest and reflection, learning about God’s gifts and abundant love, music or art that show the beauty of God’s creation, conversation with people who love you and can help support you, and prayer and reflection that reminds you of God’s closeness and unconditional love.
There is a song in the ELW hymnal that always runs through my head when I read this passage. It is a prayer set to music, asking God to let our hearts be good soil. I find it soothing, encouraging and helpful when things are tough and I feel worn down, uncertain, or challenged. Take a listen. You may appreciate it, too. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RYyKNhrb1dE
Matthew 13:1-9 http://lutheranpennstate.org/2020/07/matthew-131-9/
Weekly Prayer http://lutheranpennstate.org/?p=5446