Sermon on the Sixth Sunday after Pentecost - Matthew 13:1-9, 18-23
Jesus has a thing for dirt. He knows we have a thing for dirt. Getting our hands dirty. Digging into soil, making mud pies, sandcastles, dune angels. Because of this, he’s a little careless. He doesn’t appear to really take the time to actually organize how he is going to work. He just does. Sort of like a Tasmanian devil. Flinging stuff all over the place because he just is going to get his work done. No lines drawn. No garden boxes. He knows his dirt, and dirt don’t hurt, so let’s cast a little seed and see what happens.
We don’t like to think that something happens by accident. We like to look at life and expect it to come out just as we thought it would. We plan things usually. Regardless of whether we are type a or type b. Extroverted, introverted. Male or female. We plan things. It’s usually why we are good at blaming others when things don’t go according to plan. Even if we are lazy, haphazard, and unproductive, if something fails, it is because our expectations were not met by the recipe we devised in our head.
It is especially harsh when we do all the planning. We picture how things will go, we plan for every scenario. We know that things are going to be great. I am going to this school, or learn from this practitioner. This is going to go well. Whether it’s us or our kids, things will go well. We are following the American dream. Then, you hear – You have cancer. Or, Mom I’m pregnant. Or a semi strikes you on your blindside. Or there is a house fire. Or a war. Or a drought. Or a recession. Planning is great. A plan perfect, but reality, or dare we say God, can take us somewhere else.
My grandfather graduated from high school and was going to go to USC with a scholarship to study Aeronautical engineering. However, a little skirmish broke out in the Pacific a couple years before and he joined the Navy in a fight for freedom. You may have heard of it – World War II? Then there was this girl. Harriet. A little too pretty. A little too smart. Once the war ended college could wait. Fifty years later he retires from being a plumber, having married that young lady and the rest is history. A different history than what he thought, but it turned out to be good.
We never think that we are the soil, we always assume we are the sower. The one casting the seed. The one doing the work, not receiving it. Not being this inanimate object just laying there. Dirt. Dust. Something that can be manipulated, moved. Molded. Used. Formed by the hands of God. Guided by the word of God. Enlivened by the breath of God.
Let the earth bring forth the living creature after his kind – Genesis 1
The Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul. – Genesis 2
We’re dirt, maybe we’ve been covered with mulch or turf, but we’re still dirt full of wood ticks and worms, and here comes Jesus. The clumsy farmer. Throwing seed all over. It’s not only in the fields, it’s in the pig pen, the horse pasture, the outhouse, the front porch, the street, the kids room, the kitchen counter. It’s just flying everywhere. It will grow eventually, where it is planted. A seed of his word. Going out into the world to mess up the plans of sinners so righteously because he’s all about making a mess of things. Making a mess of our lives because we assume them so ordered. Not looking for the perfect place, the perfect ground all fertilized and tilled with plow tracks. It will take root eventually. Getting his hands dirty. Molding it. Molding you. It may take a few growing seasons to have faith grow, but when it does – Look out.
We can’t look past this parable of the Kingdom. We can’t sit here and think – I am that perfect soil. I believe and so it is that the seed took hold. No. Because sometimes our faith is gone. The next test result may make us doubt the work of the sower. Make us doubt if there even is a sower, because we have been so well planned and laid out our field so perfectly.
Sometimes we are the path and that is where the work of the word has to continue to sow that seed or else something will come to take away the truth that God has forgiven you in Jesus. Has accepted you. Not because we are perfect soil, but because we are not. That he has taken your burdens. All of it is on that cross. All that dirt. Your dirt.
Or we become like the Israelites in the book of Judges, where we actually fulfill the prophecy of Moses from Deuteronomy 6 that we enter into the promise land, live in houses we did not build, eat from fields we did not cultivate. Receive shade from trees we did not plant. And forget God because we have all we think we need. That stony ground, those weeds.
There too, the word does it’s work in you. Calling you back. Calling all of us back from a place where we think we have it all figured out. God speaking to you to make sure you know that you deserve nothing and yet receive everything from him because he loves you.
I wonder in each of you what that word is doing now. Where is God calling you to go? This God who deigns to stoop to you, to plant his word in your heart, to give you birth through the breath of his life, what might our God be saying to you now? What might he lead you to in this next year? Deeper grace. Deeper forgiveness. Ministry. Eyes to see something missing here. Ears to hear the pain of others to bring them life. God calls, gives you his word, and works to bring you into a place as one planted in his kingdom. One who has been given life, to give life to others.
The word happens to you. Do you hear me? It takes the sower. It takes the seed. If you are the ground, you receive that seed and it grows as it will. Each time maybe it needs to dig deeper. Each time to penetrate our hearts a little farther. Each time to root threw the ground to discard the rocks and weeds to give you life. The God of your everyday. Living and dying for your dirt, to bring you life. Thanks be to God. Amen