July 12, 2020

“Rooted”

By Rev. Katrina Pekich-Bundy

Genesis 25.19-34

Matthew 13.1-9, 18-23

July 12, 2020

This past week I have been caring for some herbs for Rev. Dr. Catherine Knott while she is away. After she has heard my plant horror stories, I’m not sure if she still had great faith in me or if she has a personal vendetta against those plants.

It might also be that these plants are able to express their needs. In fact, these plants are so needy, I have nicknamed it Baby. There is a picture of Baby in your bulletin this morning. When Baby is thirsty the water light turns on. When Baby is hungry the plant food light turns red. Thankfully, Baby hasn’t asked for a diaper change because I have done my time.

This amazing planter takes the guesswork out of gardening. It is great for particularly finnicky plants or new gardeners. As we read the scripture from the Gospel reading, why doesn’t Jesus just through those seeds into these planters that easily receive the seeds and create growth? Sure, these planters weren’t around, but why is the sower even bothering with the soil that doesn’t give growth?

Jesus is telling a parable. The part that is cut out of the middle of today’s reading includes someone asking Jesus why he always talks in parables. Editorially it is an odd place to put this story because it breaks up the parable and explanation.

Yet, some imagine that the latter part of the parable, the explanation, was added by a scribe later.[1] Jesus tells the listeners that he uses every day, familiar experiences in order to help them understand the concepts of the realm of God.

Jesus was trying to find a quiet space but the people keep following him. So, he eventually settles in and tells the parable of the sower – about the nature of God and the nature of humanity. There’s a simple picture on the front of your bulletin to summarize Jesus’ descriptions.

A sower takes a bunch of seeds and just throws them out. They land on a path, rocks, an area with vines, and good soil. There is no tilling, no weeding, no fertilizing. Is this careless? Wasteful? Why toss out a bunch of seeds in an area known for not supporting plants?

Another way to see this is that God is extravagant and abundant with love.[2] God isn’t picking and choosing who hears the good news – it is for everyone – and sometimes we find ourselves on the path, or in the rocks, or tangled in vines.

Many times evangelism is thought to be an exact science of planting – doing all our research and making sure we are reaching out to the “right” people.[3] Once I was on a committee looking at beginning a new church development in a town without a Presbyterian church.

They had done quite a bit of research – all the data of age ranges, sex, careers, socio-economic status, and education level. Yet, if we think to ourselves that most Presbyterians are over 65 and highly educated and white, if we are going to only reach out to those in that category, we have excluded so many people, and continued to narrow what the church looks like.

Evangelism is throwing those seeds out – everywhere – because we don’t know what will take root and what won’t.

If I can quote Hamilton for a second: “What is a legacy? It’s planting seeds in a garden you never get to see.”[4] We never know what ground those seeds will land on. Putting those seeds in a planter might seem like a good idea to conserve resources, but that tiny planter will never produce forty bushels of anything. We may not see the outcome of those seeds, but we trust in God’s care and growth.

The second scripture is one of the many stories of our ancestors of faith. We hear about brothers, Jacob and Esau. These twins were very different and started at odds in the womb. They are described as two nations at war. Maybe we can relate a bit as we think of our own country being at odds with one another, seemingly split down the middle on very divisive issues.

Esau was the firstborn son and should have had the birthright. One day, Jacob plays a trick on him, or at least he puts Esau in a position where he would supposedly starve or lose his birthright.

One day Esau came in, asking for food. Jacob tells him he won’t give him food unless he gives up his birthright. Now, why Esau doesn’t just make his own food or find his own bread, we don’t know. Yet, he’s thinking with his stomach and gives up his birthright.

This is humanity at its worst – bartering and scamming one another rather than working together for good. Humanity is limited and can be greedy. Yet, when we see God’s generosity, we are compelled to give. Since we have received such grace, when our cups are overflowing we share it with others – but only as a response to God’s love to us.

 

As we think of how to share our resources in the world, we often want to have a very calculated method. We don’t want to waste our time, our money, or our energy. At the same time, we do not always know where those seeds of time, money, or energy will land. We cannot predict every outcome. So, as you go out into the world, be sure to care for yourself, but also be generous. Thanks be to God. Amen.

 

[1] Fred B. Craddock, John H. Hayes, Carl R. Holladay, Gene M. Tucker, Preaching Through the Christian Year: A, (Philadelphia: Trinity Press International, 1992), 362.

[2] Gary Peluso-Verdend, “Matthew 13.1-9, 18-23” in Feasting on the Word: Year A, Vol. 3 (Louisville: Westminster John Knox, 2011), 236.

[3] Ibid., 238.

[4] Lin-Manuel Miranda, “The World Was Wide Enough,” Hamilton: The Musical, 2005.