Wearing a clerical collar in a public place can be an odd experience. If I go into the grocery store, for instance, and have my collar on, very nearly everyone I pass in the aisle or stand near in the checkout line smiles and speaks to me. If I don’t have on the collar, very few people say anything to me at all. It’s like I just disappear. If I want to get the same reaction that the collar would bring, I have to speak to those people first, make eye contact, and coax a smile out of them with a cheerful phrase. When I do that almost everyone returns the good cheer but if I don’t everyone just stays in their own little world.
The parable of the sower (Matthew 13:1-9) tells of the sower scattering seeds on various kinds of soil. He sows some seeds on a path where birds come and eat them up before they can take root. He sows some seeds on rocks where they spring up quickly in the shallow dirt between the rocks but they wither because there’s not enough soil to sustain them. He sows some seeds among thorns which choke the seeds as they come up. “Other seeds fell on good ground,” we are told, “and brought forth grain. Let anyone with ears listen!”
The way I generally read the parable of the sower is to imagine God as the sower and me as the soil. Some days I’m like a hard path, some days I’m like rocky soil, some days my soil seems pretty thorny, and some days I’m like good soil. God’s seeds of grace are generously strewn about no matter what kind of day I’m having. But when I can cultivate the soil of my heart, it seems the seeds of grace take root more successfully and produce fruit. That’s not a bad way of reading the parable, even if it is pretty self-centered.
Today I’m reading the parable a little differently. Today I’m feeling like God is inviting me to imagine myself as one of the seeds of God’s grace and the various people and situations I meet as various kinds of soil, all of which need a little grace. How might I engage the various situations and people I meet today? How can I participate in the spewing forth of grace into those places? How can I change my affect and behavior in such a way that others will be uplifted, encouraged, and know that there is a goodness holding all things together? What sort of change might that bring about in those situations or people?
I watch police officers as they patrol on bicycles and in their vehicles. Police officers are checking things out to see who might look suspicious or what might be amiss. But police officers always wave and speak. They engage their environments with a positive approach. I’ve seen videos where some have engaged their environments with a very negative approach and that leads to predictable disaster. When they are agents of peace and goodwill, a sense of trust and encouragement results.
Sometimes we approach our spiritual disciplines or our worship of God as things which will fill our tank so that we can handle the stress and busy-ness of life. We approach the seeds of grace as soil which needs planting so that our harvest will be satisfactory. What might it be like for you to begin to approach your own life less as the soil which is receiving the seed of grace and more as the seed of grace itself which is being planted into the situations and people you meet?
God has made you. God has blessed you. God loves you. God sends you out into a world that is broken and sinful. The more we know that we are forgiven and loved and sent, the more goodness we can be for others. How might I meet each situation today, each person today, as something that is hungry for the grace that I can represent? By myself I don’t have much to offer. But as a seed of God’s grace, I am the Christ the world needs so desperately.
Robert C. Wisnewski, Jr.
Special Events Around the Corner
Thanksgiving Eve Eucharist – November 22 at 6:00 pm
Stop Hunger Now – November 26 – need 100 volunteers and $7500
United Thank Offering Ingathering – December 3
ECW Luncheon – Tuesday, December 5
Advent Wreath Making – Wednesday, November 29 – 5:30 pm Eucharist, 6:00 supper and wreaths
Christmas Pageant – December 17, 9:30 am
Feast of Lights with Fran McKendree – January 7, 5:30 pm
Ash Wednesday – February 14