The Sower with the Outskirts of Arles in the Background
by Vincent Van Gogh
Have you ever tried to start a lawn from scratch? I did once. We had just bought our first house. It was in a housing development in a nice suburb. Included in the price of the house was a small amount of sod which some men came and laid in our front yard shortly after we moved in. But the back yard was completely unfinished. Our lot had been in the midst of a forest which had been cleared for our house, and others, to go in. The lot was leveled as much as possible. In fact, the back yard, though it was just dirt, looked nice.
But then the rain came before I had a chance to plant grass seed in the back yard. The contours of the yard completely changed. One corner fell off precipitously. I figured I better get working fast. I bought some grass seed and went to work.
I was amazed, however, on closer inspection, to discover how many rocks were still there in our back yard. So I went to work with a metal rake and other tools purchased at Lowe's or Home Depot. I got rid of as many rocks as I could. I swear I had never seen so many rocks in one place in my life! There were still some left when I started planting grass seed. But I planted anyway. And I laid straw on top of the seed to protect it while it grew.
Then the rains came again. Most of the grass seed washed off that slanted corner of the yard. I had to start over.
I don't recall how many times I planted more grass seed on that one small piece of land. Eventually I got a scraggly looking lawn growing. It would be interesting to go back and see what that yard looks like today--and to ask the owners if they had to do more planting of grass seed to get that lawn looking right.
Jesus told a story once about a farmer sowing seed. Matthew tells us that he told this story on the same day that the Pharisees asked Jesus for a sign of his identity, on the same day his family had come to collect him because they thought he was crazy. Jesus told a crowd by the Sea of Galilee a number of stories that day. But the first and most important story he told had to do with planting seeds....
That same day Jesus went out of the house and sat beside the lake. Such great crowds gathered around him that he got into a boat and sat there, while the whole crowd stood on the beach. And he told them many things in parables, saying: 'Listen! A sower went out to sow. And as he sowed, some seeds fell on the path, and the birds came and ate them up. Other seeds fell on rocky ground, where they did not have much soil, and they sprang up quickly, since they had no depth of soil. But when the sun rose, they were scorched; and since they had no root, they withered away. Other seeds fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked them. Other seeds fell on good soil and brought forth grain, some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty. Let anyone with ears listen!' (Matthew 13:1-9)
I will share more thoughts about this parable tomorrow....