Readings: Matthew 13:1-9, 18-23
Every time I asked why someone came to their church I got the same cause: a relationship, a connection. With people, and with God.
We like to say that Jesus is our salvation, or freedom. And that Jesus gives forgiveness, and life. But those words are a bit overused, too abstract, and for most people can be quite meaningless.
But these are the actual things that happen when we have relationship in and with Christ.
I’m not talking about some abstract life-after-death salvation. I’m not talking about hollow, everything-is-ok-now forgiveness.
I’m talking about real, tangible, part of your everyday: life and salvation. And this is for us by sheer gift from God. I’m talking about relationship.
Relationship with Jesus himself, and relationship with those in the world around you.
Relationship with God and with God’s people is:
gift of God.
God’s mission, God’s work in the world, is relationship.
Observe, the same Jesus Christ in whose name we gather holds us together, as the church united in baptism; and he holds the whole world together (just as Colossians says, “In him, all things in heaven and earth were created...He himself is before all things, and in him all things hold together.”).
So, unity, peace, is the vision of our gracious and loving God: Christ-centered relationship with one another, with the earth, with God.
I believe that this is what God is up to in the world;
that the reign or kingdom of God on earth is when peace and unity flourish because we are in good, holy relationship with one another and with God.
And I know this is God’s vision for all people--not for only the Christians, or only the Lutherans, not for only the Americans. For all people.
I know this because today in our Gospel, when the sower went out to spread seed, that seed went everywhere. It didn’t stay in the field or on the good soil.
That seed, God’s love, God’s word (which is love), did not stay within any boundaries or walls. It went on the path, it went in the thorns, it went on the rocks, it went to the dirt.
God’s word is here in church. Yes. We know it because we can feel it, touch it. We are washed by it in baptism. We can taste it at communion.
It is here.
But God’s Word is cast, thrown, sowed, outside of these walls. It is on the streets, in your places of work and play, at your schools.
If we concern ourselves only with God’s Word within the walls, we miss (according to this parable) at least 3 out of 4 of the places where Jesus is!
I’m not sure if the church is in decline as many say--maybe the attendance is down in places. But the Word of God is not confined by the pews or the walls. God’s loving relationship extends to all places.
And you, beloved and baptized children of God, believe it or not, you have a share in God’s mission in the world. Yes, you, through your baptism are co-workers in the sharing of God’s Word of Love. To each other,
and to ALL.
The very fact that this is a parable urges us to stretch our imaginations, think outside our normal parameters, go deeper. So we have a summons that is resonant with a command that comes later in Matthew. A summons to go beyond our own prejudices and biases, beyond our cultural and social circles, and sow the word of God’s love for all people. “Go, therefore and make disciples of all nations…” (Matthew 28:19)
We can continue to stay only in the garden, or we can also, in joyful response to our own salvation, follow God’s Word sown in the world. We can be ones who help sow God’s Word in all the world.
Because God is already there.