16 July 2023 – Seventh Sunday after Pentecost
by The Rev. Dr. Richard Burden
Sermon preached by The Rev. Dr. Richard Burden
Below is a DRAFT text of the homily. It may vary considerably from the recorded version. Please excuse typos and grammatical errors, and do not cite without permission.
Parables are tricky…that’s sort of the point. By definition they defy easy explanation…and you’re not really supposed to understand them…They’re supposed to be more like Zen koans…provocative, evocative…far from explaining them…you’re really supposed to get inside of them and crawl around…hold them up to the light and see how their colors change…what kind of shadows they cast…and yet today’s parable always has this one explanation tacked on. Which makes it hard to see in other ways…and y’all know that I’m all about looking at things through multiple lenses…So I’d like to really dive in and provide multiple alternative readings to this parable…but it’s summer, and it’s hot, so I’m not going to do that. I just going to pry up one corner of it and see what happens.
It’s known as the parable of the sower…and not the parable of the farmer…which is good because this sower is a terrible farmer. I’m not even sure they’re a very good sower, because …seriously, who sows seed like this? Just throwing it everywhere…willy-nilly…not caring at all where it lands? Rocks? Sure! Thistles? You bet! Middle of the road? Why not? It’s ridiculous…It’s wasteful…Maybe it should be called the parable of the prodigal sower. The parable of the wasteful sower…or maybe the parable of the sower with WAY TOO MANY seeds. But it’s not really about planting and growing seeds, is it? Because the seeds are the Word of God…so it’s really about evangelism…The sower is a terribly wasteful farmer…but quite a good evangelist. Because what is evangelism? It’s simply spreading the Word of God…the Good News…the Way of Love…in thought, word, and deed…it’s opening up to others and hearing their stories…and sharing our stories…of how we see God acting in the world…in our lives…and sharing our stories…stories of how we see God acting in the world…in our lives…and we should cast those seeds no matter what kind of “soil” they might fall on.
How often are we reluctant to share the faith that is in us because we’re not sure where or how it is going to land. How those hearing it are going to receive it? But the sower reminds us that true, authentic evangelism…sharing the good news…simply means spreading the seed all around…and not worrying about where it lands. Our task as sowers of the word…as doers of the word…is simply to sow the seeds…throw them all around…and let God handle the growth.
Bishop Deon Johnson of Missouri was at the Episcopal Youth Event recently, and issued a similar call to be prodigal, generous sowers of the word… The bishop reminded the youth gathered in Maryland that “The only gospel that some people will read in this world is you. The only good news that some people will hear is you.” [The Rt. Rev. Deon Johnson].
That is true of each of us. So let us all be sowers of the Word…sowers of God’s Love…sowers of God’s goodness and mercy and justice. Don’t be stingy with it…Just spread it around…everywhere you can…and God will take care of the rest.