Tuesday, May 24, 2011
Soon afterwards he went on through cities and villages, proclaiming and bringing the good news of the kingdom of God. The twelve were with him, as well as some women who had been cured of evil spirits and infirmities: Mary, called Magdalene, from whom seven demons had gone out, and Joanna, the wife of Herod’s steward Chuza, and Susanna, and many others, who provided for them out of their resources.
When a great crowd gathered and people from town after town came to him, he said in a parable: ‘A sower went out to sow his seed; and as he sowed, some fell on the path and was trampled on, and the birds of the air ate it up. Some fell on the rock; and as it grew up, it withered for lack of moisture. Some fell among thorns, and the thorns grew with it and choked it. Some fell into good soil, and when it grew, it produced a hundredfold.’ As he said this, he called out, ‘Let anyone with ears to hear listen!’
Then his disciples asked him what this parable meant. He said, ‘To you it has been given to know the secrets of the kingdom of God; but to others I speak in parables, so that “looking they may not perceive, and listening they may not understand.”
‘Now the parable is this: The seed is the word of God. The ones on the path are those who have heard; then the devil comes and takes away the word from their hearts, so that they may not believe and be saved. The ones on the rock are those who, when they hear the word, receive it with joy. But these have no root; they believe only for a while and in a time of testing fall away. As for what fell among the thorns, these are the ones who hear; but as they go on their way, they are choked by the cares and riches and pleasures of life, and their fruit does not mature. But as for that in the good soil, these are the ones who, when they hear the word, hold it fast in an honest and good heart, and bear fruit with patient endurance. Luke 8:1-15
We worked in the garden for a while today, puling weeds and cutting back branches that overshadowed the growing plants. There is a tenderness in the garden, and we want to be careful where we walk and what we pull. Some plants and shoots are so new that they can't be weeded around for fear of damaging the tender roots. Nothing happens fast, neither weeding nor growth. Every stage is to be watched, and monitored, keeping an eye for pests, for enough water and enough sun. True gardening is a spiritual experience, a glimpse into hoe God cares for us, daily, closely and with great tenderness in every season.
We hear the garden story in Luke and almost miss the incredible way it begins - with three women (and many other unnamed women) who travel with the disciples and Jesus, and who offer their resources for the good of the community. I cannot help but wonder if the parable thus told hasn't been influenced by the presence of these grateful, generous and tender women who made the ministry possible. They cared for Jesus and the disciples, making sure there was food, a place to rest and probably clean clothes and refreshment along the way. Women who "hold it fast in an honest and good heart, and bear fruit with patient endurance." I would like to believe that their presence added a dimension of nurture that was necessary for the flourishing of ministry and of faith.
Today, I want to give thanks for all the nurtures in my life, both men and women. Those who have tenderly cared for my body and my spirit and who have helped me to follow Jesus and minister to others in his name. Nurturers rarely win prizes, or attention from the world, but God knows their value and holds them tenderly as those who live faith every day.