Year A Proper 10 Matthew 13 2011
The Sower and the Seed
Matthew 13:1-9, 18-23

The Kingdom of God was the main emphasis of Jesus' ministry and this is accepted by most. But defining precisely what the Kingdom was is a bit more difficult. Indeed, even Jesus himself was often illusive about it. He did not speak in absolutes; rather, he spoke in parables. Such is our scripture text for this morning. Jesus compared the Kingdom to a sower going out and spreading seed. Some of it falls upon hard ground and is unable to take root. Some of it falls on shallow ground, and although it initially sprouts it later withers away. But some seed falls upon good earth and comes to fruition and produces a harvest.

We are to understand, of course, that the sower is God, the seed is the Kingdom, and the various types of soil represent us--you and me. On the surface of it, of course, it doesn't sound as though God is a very frugal farmer. After all, most of the seed that is strewn about never takes root. But this is not really a story about the sower or the seed. It is a story about different types of soil, or to put it another way, the responses of different types of people to the Kingdom.

The question is really, what is the state of our hearts when the seeds are sown with us? With that in mind, let us examine the various conditions of the heart mentioned in this story.

  1. The Hardened Heart
  2. The Distracted Heart
  3. The Defeated Heart
  4. The Hopeful (and Joyful!) Heart

The Parable of the Soil
Matthew 13:1-9, 18-23

Almost all denominations, or what I call "tribes," used to be able to boast an extensive farm system for growing the next generation of leaders. The past two decades have seen a gradual dismantling of that farm system. But you can still see features of it. Starting with the cradle roll and ending with the theological seminary, the church built for its future just like sports teams built for their future in a farm system.

One of the most important vestiges in the church's farm system is summer camp. How many of you here this morning ever went to church camp? [At this point, you might walk down and draw out stories of what church camps they attended and where? Anyone marry their church camp sweetheart? Etc. But most importantly for this sermon, get nominations of their favorite church camp songs.]

My favorite church camp song? "Deep and Wide." But almost any "camp song" you pick is a motion song. In other words, it comes with all sorts of hand and body motions. You "sing out," but you also "act out" in gestures and movements, what the song is all about. Whether it is "Michael Row the Boat Ashore," "Deep and Wide," or "Hallelu, Hallelu, Hallelu, Hallelu-jah . . . Praise Ye The Lord," the motions give more meaning to the words. The motions give life to the words.

Outside of campfire songs, back in the after-camp, back-to-work world, that is not always the case. In fact, too often we find that our lives have become more about "going through the motions" and "making motions" than they are about living out our lives.

How many mornings does the alarm go off and you click into "autopilot." You get up. Shower. Dress. Eat. Go to work/school. Do what is required/expected of you at your job/school. Home. Do stuff with the mail. Do stuff with food prep. Do stuff like laundry. Do stuff like drive kids all over. Go to the store and buy stuff. But instead of engaging and enjoying and embracing the life you are have been given as a gift from God, you are just getting through the day. You are just "doing stuff" and "buying stuff."

God doesn't want us just "doing stuff." God doesn't want us to "go through the motions." God wants us to live every moment to the fullest. "What is the chief end of man?" the Westminster Catechism (1643) begins: "to glorify God and enjoy him forever."... presents Leonard Sweet