When it comes time for planting pole and bush beans I till the soil and mound it up, dig a trench and carefully space the seeds evenly in the trench pressing the seeds an inch or two in the soil. Then it is up to sunlight and rain.
Sowing seed is a careful thing, a precise thing, measuring out a limited supply. Seed is expensive.
Sowing grass seed is different, it gets cast out rather than precisely buried, but it is still done carefully at a precise rate within a defined area. Or starting tomato seeds in a green house, just two or three little specks of seed are placed in each little plug of dirt.
It is a rich and rewarding activity, the preparation, the planting, the waiting, the watching and the harvest. I take that scarce and precious resource and plant it in hopes of a harvest of plenty.
But that isn’t how God does it.
What an image of God, God as the sower of seed. But not like me with my careful measuring out, just this much and no more. No, the image of God as sower is that of reckless abandon, casting the word of God’s kingdom out all over the place, carelessly, exuberantly, with no care or concern for it running out or being wasted. The seed is cast on the path, on rocky ground, in the thorns and on the good soil where it brought forth grain, some a hundred fold, some sixty, some thirty.
What a wonderful image of God, an image of ridiculous abundance. Three-fourths of the seeds are wasted, but that is of no concern, the sower just keeps on sowing, raining the word down upon us, raining down love and life without concern for return or reciprocation, the word rains down, eventually finding root and fruitfulness.
God’s word came to the children of Abraham, a family of rocky soil and thorny brambles. We see Jacob and Esau today, two reckless men, rivals from the womb, clever and foolish, grasping and controlling, wasteful and unappreciative. An unlikely place, to say the least, for the Word to take root and grow and renew a withering creation.
God made good soil out of this rocky path and over grown patch of brambles.
Makes you wonder, is it about being good soil or about God working miracles in our foolishness and recklessness.
T.S. Elliot wrote that we so often measure our lives out in coffee spoons, stingy, picky, scarce and sparse. The image of God as sower beckons us to so much more -casting out the word indiscriminately, unmeasured.
We try to measure out love and keep score, but God shows love as something endless, the more it is given the more there is to give for some a hundred fold, some sixty, some thirty.
The Gospel is that Jesus is that word of God sown wildly all over our lives. We can’t miss it, that word will find the good soil and take root and bear fruit. No matter how rocky our lives, no matter how choked with thorns, God can be trusted to find the good soil and bring forth abundance. That is the Christian Gospel. This is what the resurrection of Jesus brings about in the world.
The image we have of God changes who we are, it determines who we will become.
God’s grace is abundant beyond measure, yet we keep trying to measure out God’s love and judgment with small measures, with coffee spoons. The image of God as the sower of reckless abundance bids us drop our little coffee spoons, to dig our hands deep into the seed of God’s word and to cast that life and love everywhere. We will be surprised by where the good soil turns up, bearing fruit a hundred fold, in another sixty, and in another thirty.