Sermon on Parable of the Sower – Dean Reginald Leeuw, St Cyprian’s, Kimberley

In the name of God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, Amen
Good morning on this very cold morning in Kimberley. We thank God for the people who are joining us through our Facebook page now, and all those who will continue to do so throughout the day and in the future. In South Africa we are slowly reaching the peak of the pandemic in terms of infection rate of Covid-19. We pray for God’s protection on citizens of our country and of the world.
Today we celebrate the 6th Sunday after Trinity and as we heard in our readings, if we are to construct a common theme from our readings, it will go along the lines that God’s words, will or voice, is never forced upon us, but we have free-will; in other words we choose if we believe the word and whether we are prepared to follow God’s word. God does not force us to do anything but what we do with the word of God is in our hands, to use a popular phrase.
So it is not everyone who will hear God’s word in such a way as to understand it or carry it out. The challenge is to come to the cutting-edge between God and ourselves, and submerge ourselves in God’s Spirit. If not we will miss the message.
When we look at our readings this morning, in the Old Testament we encounter Jacob at a time when he is not remotely interested in the leading of God’s Spirit. The Psalmist believes he can achieve salvation by observing of laws; Paul, on the other hand, maintains that those who live in the realm of the flesh cannot please God (Rom 8:8). And in the parable of the sower, Jesus makes it clear that only some will hear and understand what the Kingdom of God is all about.
Our homily this morning is focused on the gospel reading, the parable of the sower, which is found in all three synoptic gospels. In the story the sower sows seed on the path (or wayside), on the rocky ground and among the thorns, and it is lost; but when it falls on good earth, it grows yielding crops that is thirty, sixty, and a hundredfold.
Even though verses 10-17 are not part of the set readings, they provide the reason why Jesus explains the meaning of the parable to the crowds. The account, which would have been easy to understand in a rural context, nevertheless causes consternation among the disciples. The telling of the parable intends that the hearers would be challenged. One should avoid the trap of over-analysing or over-allegorising this parable since it is set out to make one basic statement, yet often exaggerating to help make the point, as parables do. What then is the point of the parable of the sower you may ask? The point is that the message of the Kingdom is often not understood at all (like the seed that may be scattered on the hard path), or understood only temporarily or superficially as for an example in times of crises (the seed falls on rocky and shallow ground), or if applied with enthusiasm, only for its sharpness to wane in competition with the worldly values or what Saint Paul’s calls flesh (the seed choked by weeds)—thus leaving only those who have truly understood the message about the Kingdom (the seed that produces an excellent crop).
What does this mean?
In life, some seeds will fall on hard ground. People may be a bit lazy to think! “Leave me alone,” they might say; “don’t talk to me about politics or religion.” We all know the remarks: “don’t talk to me about Covid-19, if we don’t die now we will surely die someday”. As we face the Pandemic peak, we also face a real challenge of hopelessness and pandemic fatigue (since we have had lockdown for a long time, 108 days today to be exact, some among us may be getting tired of the strict adherence to wearing a mask, washing/sanitising hands and keeping social distancing at a very crucial time).
Some seeds will fall on rocky ground and thorny ground. It represents those whose faith is shallow and is swamped by matters of the flesh. It is far easier to become Christian than to remain one. When crises of life come, as they surely must come, will the believer find that their faith has deepened, or will they find that their faith is not deep enough? I think the question being asked here is how deep is your faith? Covid-19 infections have come too close for our comfort. I hear a lot of people say to me, Father we are scared. For the past few days I have heard people close to me or known to me say to me through messages “my friend I have tested positive with Covid-19.” From time to time we hear of jobs being shed, or of buildings closed for decontamination. These are times where our faith is tested to the limit. But I just want to remind you that our God can be trusted and will carry us through this time. To those who are infected, or have lost a family member, relative, friends, or may have lost a job and are unsure of the future, remember that God will carry us through this time of fear and uncertainty, as God has done in the past.
Fellow workers in the Lord’s vineyard, we are encouraged by the word of God to not be dismayed or discouraged by our own apparent failures or the challenges that may be beyond our control. Remember God has not called us to achieve success on our own. Jacob failed until he learned how to put his trust in God. Paul was clear that there will be a continuing tussle between our wish to succeed on our own and to submit ourselves to God’s word and will. It is only when we fully submit to God’s word and will that we become “the good soil”. It is only when we fully submit ourselves to God’s word and will that we will bear fruits. It is only when we fully submit ourselves to God’s word and will that we will join God in God’s mission of life. We will work for conditions that create and preserve lives. We will look to protect our elderly and vulnerable people by staying home, and only leave our homes when it is necessary, keeping social distancing in public, isolating ourselves if we have been exposed, keeping to hygienic standards and washing our hands so that lives will be preserved .And that is God’s will and word for our times.
To God be the glory. Amen