Trinity 6 – 16th July 2023

6th Sunday after Trinity – 16th July 2023

Isaiah 55:10-13, Matthew 13:1-9, 18-23

In the name of God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, Amen

When I was in my church youth group, I played a part in a sketch of the parable we have just heard from Jesus – the parable of the sower. This is the first of many parables in Matthew’s gospel. If I was to ask us to list parables, I am sure this one would come out almost immediately!

Do we want to know what part I had in the sketch – I was second seed! This meant I was crouched down in the middle of two other girls. For each of the times, as someone told the story, the seed was sown on the different grounds, the path, on rocky ground, among thorns, and on the good soil, we three seeds tried to grow. Other members of the youth group played the birds and the thorns etc and of course, we only successfully grew when we were sown on the good soil. There was a lot of crouching down I remember and growing (and I wished I was one of the birds which would have been easier!). I also thought that the person playing thorn 2 was a bit over enthusiastic about choking me!

After the sketch – this was the first time I can remember where I know I tried to explain a Bible passage to people. Not quite sure why I got the job at the end of the sketch. But I then had to explain what the point was we were trying to make. I have no idea what the 17 year old me said – but it was a bit of a portent of things to come perhaps!

Any way let’s dwell a little on 3 themes that emerge from this story for application to our lives today.

The first theme is about growing – there is a lot of growing for us to do – even you might say lifelong growing! As there is always something that we can learn about how much God loves us, and how to be an effective Christian modelling the lifestyle of Jesus Christ. I don’t think we should ever stop growing in faith, and there isn’t a box to tick that says I’ve learnt everything I am going to learn about our faith. I recognise there is learning and growing we need for each and every day, and it is one of the reasons why daily engagement with Bible reading and prayer is so important. It definitely provides food for the journey and often very appropriate food just when we need it.

The second theme I want to dwell on is that we have a God who will always dust us down and let us start again, if we make a wrong turn:–

  • if we act like seeds growing on the path and get caught up in the works of the evil one,
  • or if we act like seeds that have no roots and fall away when troubles come as sown on the rocky ground,
  • or even if we get caught up in the lure of stuff in the world, and loose sight of what is important like the seed choked by the thorns.

God’s forgiveness and mercy is vastly beyond our understanding and wider than any ocean – and we must never doubt that God will forgive us when we recognise our mistakes and turn back to him.

The third theme (and I must say this was given to me by Penny at our supervision on Friday!). She had read somewhere about us reflecting on the generosity of God through this story. When it comes to sowing seeds  I usually concentrate on making the soil the best it can be and I don’t waste seeds in places where they are unlikely to grow like on the path or amongst the rocks and thorns. Typical of Jesus’ stories and miracles, there is a lot of seed being thrown about here and this is another example of overwhelming generosity inherent in God’s love. It can go along with the generosity at the wedding banquet when Jesus made a huge quantity of wine (far more than was needed) and my favourite visual aide memoire – the equivalent of six wheelie bins. Or the generosity at the feeding events (for four and five thousand men, let alone the women and children present who weren’t counted) where everyone ate their fill and there were baskets and baskets left over.

Generosity is an important quality in us and our lives. The question have I been generous in my response is a good tester question for guiding us, because Jesus was pretty much generous to a fault!

I am going to finish by giving you the explanation of this parable again from the Message remembering our need to grow all the time, God’s forgiveness and our need to respond generously!

 “Study this story of the farmer planting seed. When anyone hears news of the kingdom and doesn’t take it in, it just remains on the surface, and so the Evil One comes along and plucks it right out of that person’s heart. This is the seed the farmer scatters on the road.

 “The seed cast in the gravel—this is the person who hears and instantly responds with enthusiasm. But there is no soil of character, and so when the emotions wear off and some difficulty arrives, there is nothing to show for it.

 “The seed cast in the weeds is the person who hears the kingdom news, but weeds of worry and illusions about getting more and wanting everything under the sun strangle what was heard, and nothing comes of it.

“The seed cast on good earth is the person who hears and takes in the News, and then produces a harvest beyond their wildest dreams.”

Amen. 

References: The Message – Copyright © 1993, 2002, 2018 by Eugene H. Peterson

The New Revised Standard Version of the Bible 1989, 1995 ©