Gracious God, give us the courage to plant good seed on all soil, not counting the cost and not waiting for a promise of a good harvest, but to plant on and on, in good faith.
We want to know beforehand, that what we plant will grow to fruition. We want to know that we are not wasting our time or putting ourselves out there, just a touch too far. It’s in our nature to want to know, before we extend our effort and our seed, that the soil will receive it, will reward our effort.
How often do we typically try to decide for ourselves what is right, what is wrong, what we want or see as the good for us, rather than relying on God to separate the two. We are given to judging which seed is good, is right, is appropriate, and in our hurry to judge we fail to plant. We wait for the right moment, the right seed, the right ground to show up. We are all too driven to be certain that this is the right way, the right time, the right thing and the seed is never planted because we just can’t be certain.
Perhaps there were some overzealous “weeders” in Matthew’s congregation who wanted to purify the community by rooting out the bad seed. This seems to be a temptation for followers of Jesus in every age. We whip ourselves into a weeding frenzy, certain that we know the difference between weeds and wheat, and that we know how to deal with the weeds!
Jesus’ parable makes clear that any attempt to root out the weeds will only do more damage to the crop. This has played out far too many times in congregations and denominations, with some determined to root out anyone who does not agree with the “right” interpretation of Scripture, liturgical practice, or stand on a particular issue. There are also those who pronounce judgment on people outside the church — on people of other faiths, for instance — declaring them to be destined for eternal damnation. Whether judgment is focused within the church or without, it does serious damage to the church and its mission.
In order to plant we must accept ambiguity. We must admit that we don’t know exactly what will grow. Often we think we are planting one thing, tending it, watering it, and it turns out to be something else, something we never intended. How do we ensure that our intentions are really aligned with God’s will, how do we make sure that what is growing is the right thing?
But, the problem with evil? With sin? Is that it looks pretty darn good. So close to what seems right and virtuous. So close to our vision of what we imagine good should be. It makes me think of the Stepford Wives, everyone in lock step, as if we could find the right way to be and simply mandate it.
We are called to have the faith to do our very best and then let go of the results, to trust that God is in the mix and will help us align our best intentions with God’s own will. We, by ourselves, can never be certain that our best efforts are God’s will, are right and correct. So we are called to give our best efforts without that certainty. To plant the seed knowing that some tares will grow among the wheat and that God will sort it out in the end.
People are often unreasonable, irrational, and self-centered. Forgive them anyway.
If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives. Be kind anyway.
If you are successful, you will win some unfaithful friends and some genuine enemies. Succeed anyway.
If you are honest and sincere people may deceive you. Be honest and sincere anyway.
What you spend years creating, others could destroy overnight. Create anyway.
If you find serenity and happiness, some may be jealous. Be happy anyway.
The good you do today, will often be forgotten. Do good anyway.
Give the best you have, and it will never be enough. Give your best anyway.
In the final analysis, it is between you and God. It was never between you and them anyway. Mother Theresa
Who loves perfectly? Only God. The rest of us must make do with imperfect love. We must drop seeds of forgiveness, of grace, of kindness and compassion as we move through the world never being quite sure if these seeds will grow, will stay true to our intent, or will perhaps lay dormant for years, waiting for just the right fire to bring them to life, or perhaps they will grow but all twisted and stunted, malformed and not true to the intent with which they were planted. Who loves perfectly? Only God.
“The master went forth and sowed good seed,” because that is what the master does. God sows good seed, true seed, seed which will, in time with good soil, grow true to form. We, on the other hand must make due with our imperfect seed mix. We prepare the soil, plant the seed, and sometimes we aren’t quite sure what we have planted until it comes up.
My prayer today is that we find the courage to sow seeds of kindness, love, compassion, and justice, and have the faith to release the resultant growth of that seed to God’s care. Do your best, let go of the result.
Like our children’s story today, we do our best and let go of the result, is it good? Is it bad? We don’t know. We trust God to make that decision.
We plant seeds of love, never knowing if they will bloom, never knowing if we will witness the bloom if it happens. We are not called to predict the future, but to plant in good faith, with good intention, the growth, the blooming, all of that is God’s work. We are only called to plant and to plant abundantly, to put forth that good Word, that Gospel Word and let it grow, trusting that at some point it will take root and it will grow and we don’t need to fuss over it.
So go forth today with the intention to plant seeds of love, seeds of kindness and compassion, go forth today with the intention to plant seeds of prosperity, equality, and justice for all, go forth today and plant those seeds of forgiveness, of release to prisoners, of new beginnings and plant those seeds everywhere!
Plant as if the harvest was overdue and hunger threatening at the door. Plant as if the world were desolate and in desperate need of flowers, bright colors and sweet scents. Plant as if you simply needed, in the depths of your heart and soul, to see something good grow. Plant without judgment. Plant without reservation. Plant without expectation of some eventual or even partial reward. Simply plant those seeds, water them with your love and care as long and as well as you can, and release all expectation of any particular result, trusting that God will use your efforts regardless of outward appearances.
Plant knowing that if what grows from this seed or that is a darnel, a poisonous noxious weed, that God has use for that too. Plant, though, with the intention that all you plant will be life-giving, will enhance the environment and the community, will give new opportunity and vision to those who are blinded by despair and poverty.
Plant seeds of love without expectation of fruition because the harvest isn’t part of our job description. Plant simply because you have been called to plant, and never mind the cost. Till the earth, all the mucky, messy bits, and find those places that are fertile, but plant too in those which are not. Plant on the stony path and in the midst of briars. Plant especially in the midst of briars, where love is needed most. Plant seeds of compassion and kindness where the sun rarely touches, because dark, cold places need it more than any. Plant knowing that if only a small percent of these seeds mature, it is worth it. Plant abundantly because only a few seeds will make it, will take root, with thrive, will grow, but only a few is plenty when we plant abundantly.
So often we are told that we are the darnel, the tare, the evil seed, and that we will burn..but I tell you that we are all holy children of God; loved eternally and with a thoroughness that we can barely grasp. We will burn, but we will burn with passion, with love so fierce it burns out anything within us that dares to be tepid and lukewarm. We will burn with a passion so fierce and so full of love for God and for neighbor that no dross will remain within us, and that we shall burn all the brighter for its removal. Plant and plant, my dear ones, with a love that is so fierce and so loyal that only death will stop us from planting seeds of love, so full of passion that we will only look back upon our deathbeds to see if any of them bloomed. Plant, always looking forward, knowing that the result of our planting is not in our hands, it is in God’s hands and so we simply run on and on, planting, strewing good seed, without doubt and without compulsion, trusting that the blooming, the growing, is in God’s good hands.
In this stewardship season, leave none of your seeds unplanted. Take the risk to say I love you first. Plant the seed of hope where it is least likely to bloom. Put the effort into unwise but holy aspirations, and never count the cost. For the end result is in God’s hands. It is not and never was in our hands. Don’t let those seeds go to waste waiting for the perfect moment, the right soil, the full moon, plant them now and then plant some more.
Don’t wait for the right time, the right moment. Don’t wait for certainty, because certainty eludes us even as the end is held within God’s own gracious hands. Today we placed small sticky seed shapes in your bulletin. Take them with you to remind you to plant good things and to notice and appreciate the good things all day long. Perhaps you will plant one in the midst of your dinner table, writing, I see God in our communion together, perhaps you will plant one in your child’s bedroom writing on it, I see God at work in your kindness. Perhaps you will leave one with a checker at a grocery store as a reminder that they are beloved children of God, but wherever you go, plant those seeds. Name those good things which are growing in your life, and keep on planting.