The Rev’d Sandra Juniper
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Reflection 13 November 2020 Luke 8: 4-8
Today our scripture reading is probably one of the most well known being used often in country churches at Harvest Festival Service giving thanks for the reaping of a good harvest. I well remember entering church as a child and later an adult, drinking in the wonderful fragrance. Windows decorated with bracken, chrysanthemums, an abundance of apples, eggs and vegetable produce, sheaves of corn around the font and at the altar rail as well of course the harvest loaf of bread complete with mouse to be broken at the communion service and shared at harvest supper on a Monday evening.
I will relate a happening – Monday evening service and supper with guest preacher. The service did seem to drag on a bit and ladies in the church hall, just across the way, were fretting about keeping jackets and soup hot and rattling the church door. A splendid feast awaited us and which we enjoyed. However, when the time for ‘afters’ came our guest rose gave his apologies he had work to do.
One of our ‘farmers wives, flushed, with hands on hips’ said “vicar, if yew adden ave spoke so long callin us weeds yew’d be able to ave your apple pie” Absolute silence as said vicar, rather pink departed.
Moving on our reading for today.
When a great crowd gathered and people from town after town came to him, Jesus 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!”
It’s interesting how much Jesus was an out of doors person. He gave a lot of his sermons out of doors – and his images were so often of seeds and growth, trees and fields. Little of his preaching was done in the temple or synagogue. He met his people in their ordinary situations. This story draws in all Jesus’ sensitivity to the growth of faith, spoken in words and images, in ordinary places, that everyone could understand. He meets you and me too in the ordinary of our lives.
The very parable is thrown out like a seed; to flourish or perish in the heart of the hearer. I wonder at Jesus’ patience in giving of himself despite his knowledge that his word might not be given the attention or consideration it merits. It is easy to be become preoccupied with the fraying edge, the leaking vessel, the withered seed. They are part of the picture – but only a part. Jesus describes a rich understanding of the environment in which there is also success and growth. With God, I attend to the growth and life that is in me and ask that it spill over into such barren patches as there are.
I think we all really know what Jesus is saying but sometimes we need to revisit time and again for a fresh understanding of ourselves. The hard path represents the shut mind, that blocks out the word of God. The rocky ground, with a thin layer of soil, is the shallow mind that does not think through the word of God or its consequences, and forgets it when under pressure. The thorny ground means those whose lives are so busy that the things of God get crowded out.
I want to pray – Lord, I will try to listen with a good heart and produce results. We want our community to be soil for the word of God. It only makes sense if the way we live our lives make sense of the gospel. The seed is the word of God and we are the soil – personally and as community.
Let’s hope we nourish well, the soil which is itself the gift of God. We nourish the soil of our faith with prayer, service and love. Wherever there is real love in life, this is the soil open to the word and love of God. All God wants is that we and our world grow as best we can, as God wants us to grow.
Let us pray
God of glory,
touch our lips with the fire of your Spirit,
that we with all creation
may rejoice to sing your praise;
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen