SOWING, Rev John Blazé - Matthew 13:1-9; 18-23
In the last few chapters that we have been reading in Matthew's gospel Jesus is trying to teach his disciples how to be disciples and how to go out into the world. In fact, we read in chapter 10 verse 16 that he is sending us out in the world as sheep amongst wolves, to be wise as serpents and innocent as doves. We need the wisdom of discernment about who we are talking to and how we preach the gospel to people.
When I read this parable the night before last in preparation for today, it brought back memories of my childhood. In the southern provinces of Sri Lanka, it was a common sight to see the rice paddy being cultivated. The sower of rice went out in very much the way as a sower possibly did in biblical times. They had a little bag in front of them and they waved the seed into the Paddy Fields as they were walking through mud ankle-deep. And before they went out, the Paddy Fields were prepared for the seed with mud and water. The free seed would just fall on it. It's an important issue because rice is the staple food of at least half the population of the world: such as China, Indonesia and India.
This Parable is then very relevant to sowing as it happens in Southeast Asian countries. However, there is also the question of the word. Jesus calls us to be his disciples and to be sowers of the seed, the good word, his word.
To be a sower one needs a certain amount of persistence and determination to get out there and to stomp around in the mud and to keep sowing the seed all over. Sometimes the seed falls on different types of soil and ground even though the ground has been specially prepared. A lot of it is eaten by birds and insects and falls on stony ground. And so, you wonder how much is wasted? I believe that most of it however falls into good soil.
And I think about this seed and who are we and how are we placed through the sowing in this day and age? We have to realize that Jesus is training us to be disciples. He has told us in previous parts of the last few chapters some of the difficulties and dangers we have to encounter. I think here there is also a lesson in being consistent and persistent in our sowing. We give up too often too easily.
The sower in these Southeast Asian countries sow and sometimes they come back for a second sowing because they realize that some of the seed might have fallen in the wrong place. It's a hard job being ankle deep in mud as they sow. They’ve been working in the mud day after day preparing the field for the sowing and they don't get much reward for it financially, but they keep sowing. I don't know if there are any more modern methods of sowing these days in those countries, but certainly the last time I been there I noticed that they were sowing in much the same way as they did in olden times as the people in the Biblical times.
One of the lessons we have to learn is that Jesus calls us to be sufficiently determined to consistently sow and sow and sow into a world where we sometimes might not see the result. But we know that we have been promised that there will be an abundant crop.
And we do know there's an abundant crop because there are people around us who are part of the Harvest and we are called also to be harvesters to harvest this crop. We are told that the harvesters are few. I think we need to really look at ourselves and question whether we are prepared to be determined and continue to sow and to harvest and reap.
We live in a society where it looks pretty gloomy as far as faith is concerned. A lot of it is atheism and other religions and we struggle with materialism and with all the various secular things that come pushing on us. And we struggle even with her own church, with our own denominations. Not necessarily only in the Uniting Church, but even in other denomination all around the world they struggle with liberal views that are coming out.
The martyrs of old have sown the seed that we have inherited. But we see Church property being sold. Faith is somehow being dissipated even from within the church. But Jesus foretold to us that this is going to happen. This is something that we need to watch out for and to be wise as serpents and innocent as doves.
One of the things we have to learn in our sowing and reaping is to be wise and know the time and the words to speak. We need to read our Bible over and over again to get the words that we have to speak in every situation to people who need to hear the word of God. We need to know our Bible thoroughly so that we can speak with confidence and assurance knowing that the Lord is with us and he is going to bless the words. We speak as he speaks, according to his will.
So, my word that I received from the Lord in this message is don't give up. We need to preach the word consistently persistently even as the sower does in the Paddy fields in Southeast Asia. We need to get out there walk in the mud and keep on sowing and as we keep on sowing the Lord will bless the Harvest. So may God bless this time for us that we might continue. Be encouraged in his word to continue the sowing for that is what you and I are called to do. It doesn't matter who we are and what our circumstances we can always sow the seed of the Lord Our God and do it with confidence. As we study his word, we can speak it out with courage and determination whatever the cost.
May God bless his word to us.
We thank you Lord for your word. We pray this in Jesus name. Amen.