A sower went out to sow his seed; and as he sowed, some fell …
- Matthew 13, Mark 4, Luke 8
The sidewalks around my neighborhood are covered with small seeds from some kind of maple tree. You know the ones I mean. The ones that spin as they fall through October skies. In this part of the world, they are all over the place. Much harder to see are the seeds from the grasses and wildflowers. They too are all over the place. Some land in a good place and others don't. They are scattered extravagantly.
I hope you are familiar with the parable of the sower, the beginning of which is quoted above and which appears in three gospels. We often use the parable to illustrate how words of truth and good news may land in good places within us and also in places they will not live and grow. We hope that we are fertile ground or may become fertile ground!
You may also reflect upon how the seeds in the parable are, like the seeds in our neighborhoods, scattered wildly. It is as if the sower, the maple trees and grasses, and the one from whom all blessings flow have an inexhaustible supply. It's okay that some seeds fall on the path and get trampled. It's okay that some seeds fall on the street and get pulverized. It is okay that God's blessings fall on ears that cannot hear them. There are plenty more where those came from.
The extravagance with which God dispenses grace and blessing tells us what God is like. God's grace is an expression of the nature of God. There is no divine calculation about the percentage of blessings that will be thankfully received. God is not choosing to love us because it is worth the effort. God just can't help it.
That is a characteristic of the kind of divine love that we are cultivating in our shared journey of faith. We are trying to grow and transform ourselves into people who love extravagantly. We practice by loving those we fall in love with, those who are part of our families, those who we count as neighbors. We continue to practice by loving those who are not immediately lovable, those who we don't know, and those who we see as our enemy. I use the word "practice" because I know that you struggle toward this elusive goal just like I do. It is so much wiser to control our love and kindness. It is a savvy calculation to avoid wasting our time forgiving those who are not repentant, to "let go" of relationships that are not reciprocal, and to dismiss "them" – all those who any fool can see are not "us." When we are being farmers at Stearns Farm, we are careful to plant each bulb of garlic in good soil. We don't waste the garlic by scattering it in the woods.
Beloved, when it comes to giving of ourselves, we are not farmers. Leave that analogy behind. We aspire not to farm but to do something for which we must seek another kind of analogy or another story. We tell the story of Jesus. The way we tell the story, we tell of a man who at some point stopped making the calculations about how much to give, about how much his love and even his life was worth. He emptied himself of all such understandable expectations and said to his God what you practice saying to your God, "thy will be done."
When you say what Jesus said, you move toward the true, extravagantly generous, persistently kind, foolishly loving you that you are meant to be!
Pray with me now? O Holy One, thy will be done. Amen!