Soon afterward he went on through cities and villages, proclaiming and bringing the good news of the kingdom of God. And the twelve were with him, and also some women who had been healed of evil spirits and infirmities: Mary, called Magdalene, from whom seven demons had gone out, and Joanna, the wife of Chuza, Herod's household manager, and Susanna, and many others, who provided for them out of their means.
And when a great crowd was gathering 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 along the path and was trampled underfoot, and the birds of the air devoured it. And some fell on the rock, and as it grew up, it withered away, because it had no moisture. And some fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up with it and choked it. And some fell into good soil and grew and yielded a hundredfold.” As he said these things, he called out, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear.”
And when 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 for others they are in parables, so that ‘seeing they may not see, and hearing they may not understand.’ Now the parable is this: The seed is the word of God. The ones along 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. And the ones on the rock are those who, when they hear the word, receive it with joy. But these have no root; they believe for a while, and in time of testing fall away. And as for what fell among the thorns, they are those 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. As for that in the good soil, they are those who, hearing the word, hold it fast in an honest and good heart, and bear fruit with patience. Luke 8:1-15
As the growing season wraps up and the gardens are put to their rest for the winter, there is always preparation for the next spring, and the ongoing composting and preparation that readies the soil for another season. Being new to Sitka, we find ourselves in several new seasons, preparing for a winter we haven't yet experienced and a renewal of a community which has suffered extraordinary change. To be an honest and good heart in a new place or a new time, means being willing to be dug up, turned and fed, willing to learn from gardeners with experience and time in the field.
Jesus was on the road with his disciples and the women. He used farming images and rural scenes to help folks understand better what he was teaching. The people understood planting and growing and so he used that culture to enlighten them all. The parable reminds us that it is God who does the tilling and the planting. We are invited to be "those who, hearing the word, hold it fast in an honest and good heart, and bear fruit with patience." We are invited to be earth, dirt, soil - whatever your word, we are invited to be the ground of faith by holding what we have been given, carefully and tenderly. And we are to be that ground by having a honest and good heart, a heart which nourishes and is compassionate and forgiving of others. Then God's garden of abundance will flourish wherever we are.
Today, I ask God to help me be rich earth, the medium which helps love and faith grow in this new place. May we all have the courage to be tilled, turned, fed and tended by God, so that God's garden of abundance might grow in our midst. May our days be full of compassion and forgiveness. May we never look back to the last season but always be focused on preparing our hearts for the next year. And may God give us the patience and strength we need to have our hearts made new, carefully and tenderly by God's loving hands.