Sunday, February 8, 2009
There is a lot of energy and motion mentioned in the opening reading of Isaiah 55:12
"So you will go out with joy and be led out in peace.
The mountains and hills will burst into song before you,
And all the trees in the fields will clap their hands." NCV
All this energy and after the preceding verse:
"The same thing is true of the words I speak.
They will not return to me empty.
They will make the things that I want to happen,
and they succeed in doing what I send them out to do." NCV
Lots of energy. Lots of joy. There is lots of expectation from God, the author of the universe. There is lots of expectation for God for the words that his Son Jesus is to deliver to the crowds in his preaching.
In Psalm 84 lines like "My whole being wants to be with the living God", "...Happy are those whose strength comes from you...", "...and everyone meets with God in Jerusalem,,,", - these lines reflect more energy, more joy, and more expectation. You want to see and touch God in his Temple as it stood in Jesus' time. We all want to see and meet God and Jesus at the end of our days. By why wait? Stand up. Sing. Shout praise. Stir the heart to joy. Stir the mind to song. Be a part of the oneness of God and his creation.
We are stirred. In Hebrews 4:13 "God's word is alive and working and is sharper than a double edged sword..."
Think about it. God's word is alive and it has been since the beginning of time - before the beginning of time - "in the beginning there was the word. The word was with God, and the word was God." And his word and his world will have no end. We as Christians will have no end. That is the promise and the expectation.
Then there in Luke 8 starting with verse four Jesus starts to tell his parable of a farmer planting seeds. These are ancient times and there are no machines to help you plant seeds. You throw them every which way. In a way it is a gamble. You have expectations of a bumper crop to feed your family and excess bounty to sell in town. There are infinite possibilities as to what can happen when we sow the seeds of a crop full of this human expectation.
Life is what it is. A certain portion of seeds fall on the road and are lost under foot. A certain portion is consumed by birds. Still others fall on rock, start to grow but die for lack of ground water. Others fall among weeds and cannot compete for the first place prize of survival.
And many more of the seeds fall on good ground. The temperature, ground and moisture conditions promise the expectation to produce a good, large, sturdy harvest of grain. Everyone will eat in the coming year.
Think about it though. Everyday that farmer must be worrying if the good conditions will continue. Will rain come? Just enough -not too much. Will the temperature stay balanced - not too hot - not too cold - and so on and so forth? The harvest is ready. The crops are cut and stored. Many worries disappear as the bounty of God's earth brings forth the continuation of the human family.
We have heard this parable before. Here in this particular Gospel, Jesus adds some commentary and tells everyone what the parable means. Maybe he had been preaching to too many farmers or day laborers who were tired at the end of a long hard back breaking day. Rather than tax their mental processes, he helps the parable along.
In fact here in the Gospel of Luke I hear the echo of some other Gospel, not an official gospel, one of those piles of parchment that were found in the middle of the last century in Egypt. These documents, though much later in date than the four Gospels, have many lines and references that a seasoned reader of the Good News might recognize. What I hear in Luke is Jesus telling everyone to listen. He wants them to hear. Any of you listening, you better have two good ears, and learn.
The simple story of seeds and the expectation of good crops illustrate how many of us have promise, great expectations in life and in the salvation of our souls.
Everybody here. Any of you listening? You better have two good ears. Hear me.
Oh how Jesus must have been sad on the days he preached to a bunch of tired and or slow brick walls also known as farmers, country dwellers, itinerates, travelers. How he must have wondered how his expectations to save the world would fall on deaf ears and the blind among the people who with a little common sense or an elevated sense of humanity would, if they could, stand on the mountaintop so to speak and see the promised land of humankinds' salvation.
The crowd can take his, Jesus' word away with them from that meeting that day. They can embrace the word at first and then let it fall away. They can forget it. They can give lip service to it. They can let their worries about crops and other human matters cloud out the message and the word of God along their road of life. And there are those who "like the seed that falls on good ground ...hear God's teaching with good, honest hearts and obey it and patiently produce good fruit."
Let those of you with two good ears - listen - understand - learn.
All this - this structure - many structures - many churches - cathedrals - many Christian communities all have sprouted out of seeds that have fallen on good ground. Our hope, our faith, our expectations have carried the seed along, found a good home for it, nurtured it and in good time we have seen the good fruit of our labors here as we expect to see the fruits of a life lived in Christian faith and harmony be carried over into the next world.
It is a good crop. It is a bumper crop. It all depends on each and every one of us.
That, and with God's blessings, the people of God endure in this life and the next.