Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Good Soil

Again Jesus began to teach beside the sea. Such a very large crowd gathered around him that he got into a boat on the sea and sat there, while the whole crowd was beside the sea on the land. He began to teach them many things in parables, and in his teaching he said to them: "Listen! A sower went out to sow. And as he sowed, some seed fell on the path, and the birds came and ate it up. Other seed fell on rocky ground, where it did not have much soil, and it sprang up quickly, since it had no depth of soil. And when the sun rose, it was scorched; and since it had no root, it withered away. Other seed fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked it, and it yielded no grain. Other seed fell into good soil and brought forth grain, growing up and increasing and yielding thirty and sixty and a hundredfold." And he said, "Let anyone with ears to hear listen!"
When he was alone, those who were around him along with the twelve asked him about the parables. And he said to them, "To you has been given the secret of the kingdom of God, but for those outside, everything comes in parables; in order that
'they may indeed look, but not perceive,
and may indeed listen, but not understand;
so that they may not turn again and be forgiven.'"
And he said to them, "Do you not understand this parable? Then how will you understand all the parables? The sower sows the word. These are the ones on the path where the word is sown: when they hear, Satan immediately comes and takes away the word that is sown in them. And these are the ones sown on rocky ground: when they hear the word, they immediately receive it with joy. But they have no root, and endure only for a while; then, when trouble or persecution arises on account of the word, immediately they fall away. And others are those sown among the thorns: these are the ones who hear the word, but the cares of the world, and the lure of wealth, and the desire for other things come in and choke the word, and it yields nothing. And these are the ones sown on the good soil: they hear the word and accept it and bear fruit, thirty and sixty and a hundredfold." Mark 4:1-20 
 There is a peculiar phenomenon that happens this time of year. Sometime shortly after the holidays are over, in the deepest dark of winter, the seed catalogs start arriving. For us amateur gardeners, it is a breath of life, a hope for the future, and a big tease. Everything around is brown, bleak and frozen. And yet there is the promise that one day there will be a chance to plant and grow again. Some day soon we will be able to turn and feed the earth, making it a strong home for the seeds and plants to come.
Jesus uses the images of good soil to talk about receiving the word of God and bearing fruit. We all know that as humans we are too often careless and shallow, with good intentions but lacking the discipline necessary to provide a healthy living environemnt for faith. We are invited today, as we ponder our hopes for spring, to prepare the soil of our hearts, making ready to be abundant. We care invited to ponder and pray as we make ready for new seeds and new fruit, all gifts from God.
Today I ask God to give me the patience to prepare. May we take time in prayer and preparation for the new seeds God is sending to us. May we be those gardeners who take the time to make ready, to weed and to feed, so that God may use us abundantly in the coming seasons.

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