By Rev. Deanna Woodward
Maple Leaf Parish
United Methodist Churches of Cherry Grove, Fountain, Preston and Spring Valley
Have you ever had this experience? You walk up to someone you know and ask “How are you?” The person answers, “Well, I lost my job last week. My spouse left me. I haven’t been able to sleep lately. My daughter fell and broke her arm in two places, and my son got kicked off the baseball team. That’s how things have been going for me lately.”
And before you realize it, you say, “Oh, that’s great!” Sometimes we respond without really listening. We may do this with people, but we also do it with God. God speaks to us in many different ways, but as we sometimes do with people, we tune God out or close God out.
The Bible records a parable Jesus shared in which he compared God’s message and the way in which people receive it (or don’t) to seed planted by a farmer in different types of soil.In the parable, some of the seed fell on the path. After it’s walked on often, a path becomes hard-packed and doesn’t allow good seed growth. There are people like that. Maybe they have been “walked on” a lot by life, and they have become hard, cynical, callused and crusted over. It becomes hard for God or God’s word to take root in their lives.
In a “Peanuts” comic strip, Violet is chasing Charlie Brown and shouting “I’ll get you, Charlie Brown! I’ll get you! I’ll knock your block off!” Charlie Brown, who had been running away, suddenly screeches to a halt and tries to reason with her. “Wait a minute! Hold everything! If we, as children, can’t solve what are relatively minor problems, how can we ever expect the nations of the world to…” And then, POW! (Another slap heard ‘round the world?) Violet slugs him and says, “I had to hit him quick… He was beginning to make sense!”
That’s what the hard, crusted-over folks of Jesus’ time did to him. They “hit him quick” with the cross because he was beginning to make sense. Hard, cynical people are still doing this. Jesus’ word speaks “love” but they will not listen. He offers new life, but they will not respond. He invites “follow me,” but they will not follow.
The parable goes on to talk about other types of soil where God’s word has trouble growing. But the story ends with good news. Just as the cross did not have the final word in the life of Jesus, but was overcome by his Easter resurrection, there are also good listeners (then and now) who provide fertile soil for God’s word and work with it to bring forth new life everywhere.
So, as we observe the springtime world coming back to life and the busy activity of farmers hard at work to plant the annual crops, let us also keep receiving the seed of God’s word in our lives and sowing the seed in the lives of others, knowing that there is good soil around, even if at times the outlook appears unpromising. God will use our gifts and our efforts to produce a good harvest.