A LIFE THAT REALLY MATTERS--GRACE IN EVERYPLACE

SCRIPTURE: PSALM25:1-10; MATTHEW 13: 1-9, 18-23

In the name of the God who creates us. redeems us. and gives us life. Amen!


I started a sermon series last week. It is based on the general theme, "A Life That Really matters." Last week I talked

about turning to God as the first action in a life that really matters. Today I will be talking about why we turn to God,

because with God, there is grace in every place.


Today's Gospel reading from Matthew's gospel is the Parable of the Sower. The passage is really in two parts. First there

is the telling of the parable, and then there is the interpretation of the parable. Parables can always be read in dynamic

analogy, which means they can be read from several points of view.


You can read the parable from the point of view of us the people. We are represented by the various kinds of soil. Or you

can read the parable from the point of view of God, who is the extravagant sower of seeds of grace.


We are going to do both of those this morning. But to begin with I want us to understand the context in which the parable

comes. We are told that Jesus goes out of the house and sits by the sea. Now this could take place in

Wheatland/Chugwater, couldn't it? Except we don't have the sea, but we do have Grayrock Reservoir.


If Jesus were to do that here, and tell this parable, who would be in his audience? There might hay and alfalfa farmers

from Arizona, or maybe corn and wheat farmers from the mid-west. They are here in Wheatland/Chugwater on vacation

for a couple of days, taking a bit of a rest in the midst of the season when it is the hottest and most humid, and getting

ready for harvest time.


You can picture these farmers driving for several hours or days, finally getting to Grayrock Reservoir. They get out of

their trucks and feel the rush of the lake breeze, and then they hear a preacher on the beach. He is preaching about

sowing and harvesting and different types of soil. My guess is one of those farmers might say,"Hey man, I'm trying to

get away from that stuff. "That's why I'm here at the reservoir." But Jesus doesn't give planting instructions, he tells a

parable, and they listen.


Perhaps there are others who just happen by that day. Maybe there is a stressed-out high tech person who comes out of

one of the high-rises in downtown Denver. He wanted to have a picnic lunch by the lake. He goes down to the beach to

walk, breathe some fresh air, and get a different perspective. Maybe there is an out of work accountant. She has lost her

job, her pension, and her hope. She is walking along the beach and she stops to listen.


Perhaps there is a young dropout. Maybe he has left home and living on the streets. Maybe he is into drugs. He's lost and

alone, not sure there really is a life to lead. That person stops to listen.


Jesus begins to talk about this sower who goes out and throws seeds even on the pathways. The pathways are symbols

for some of our lives. They symbolize those people who are always walked on. They symbolize those who have

been trampled down by life, those who others never regard positively if they regard them at all. They symbolize those

whose circumstances of life will not allow them to hear or receive the Word of God. Jesus says on those

people the sower sows the seed.


Jesus says there are other people who are represented by shallow ground. In our part of the country that is called

"caliche'" (Spanish: "pebble in the brick''). With caliche you usually have about an inch or two topsoil, then there is this

harden formation of crystalline salts underneath. Neither plant nor humans can penetrate it in any way.


What happens when you throw seed there is it will spring up and grow for a day or two, nice and green. Then all of a

sudden the plants wither and blow away. There is no depth, no place for roots, so there is no grounding. Jesus says there

are some people like that. They are shallow. They are the kind of people whose life agenda only has two items, the

pleasant and the unpleasant.

They only know of two people, those who like them and those who don't. They only see life as either all rosy or all

gloomy. There is no place in between. There is no depth in these people. Because of that there will be no gain either. But

Jesus says the sower goes out and sows, even on the shallow places of life, even in the shallow people.


Jesus goes on to say, the sower goes out and sows where the weeds are. Jesus in this interpretation says that those who

are the weeds are those who are captured by the cares of the world and all the things going on around them. They are the

people that are trying to do too much all at one time. They are the people who have too many irons in the fire, those who

are spread to thin.


Most of us, in other words, are whom he is talking about here. He says those people are trying to do so much that they

are not focused. And because they are not focused, they don't know what is good and what is bad. They come to church

on occasion. They come before God even less frequently


They have never learned what Fred Craddock calls the fundamental rule of life: you have to be present to win, you {have

to be present to God to live. Jesus says for these people some fruit will come up, but it will be small, anemic, and

tasteless.


Jesus then talks about the good soil. The good soil represents those who are genuinely, good, honest, and humble

Christians. The Spirit of God is somehow working in their lives. It begins small, and it struggles, yet slowly but surely

that Spirit of God begins to increase and deepen and shape those lives. It shapes them so that they can receive the seed, the

word of God,so it can take root in them, and flourish and grow.


Now that is looking at the parable from the point of view of the soil. We can also look at it from the point of God. That's

where the Psalm comes in. The psalm is from the point of you of God as well. The psalmist says, "I lift up my soul to

you, O Lord. Make me to know your ways; teach me your paths." Then comes the great affirmation in the psalm,

"All the truths of the Lord are steadfast love and faithfulness."


Do you hear what the psalmist is saying? You and I may be faithful on occasion, or not. You and I may be receptive on

occasion, or not. You and I may be compassionate to others, or not. But 'all the paths of the Lord are steadfast love and

faithfulness". Or, in God there is grace in every place. The psalmist is saying the same thing as the parable.


The amazing thing about this parable from the point of God is, God doesn't broadcast the seed just on the good soil, just

where he knows there is going to be a harvest. God goes out and casts the seed on all soils, on the pathways, in the

shallow soil, where there is weeds, and on the good soil. Even you and I receive the seeds of grace, the Word of God.


Now there are two lessons to be learned from the people. The first is that the Kingdom of God is sure. The Kingdom of

Godwill come about. It doesn't sound that way when the parable starts, because you hear failure, failure, failure, and then

finally something good. But in the something good, the return is one hundred, sixty, thirty fold.


The Kingdom of God is sure. The Kingdom of God will come about. The only question is, are you and I going to be a

part of it? Will you and I be good soil? Jesus says right before this parable, "Those who are part of my family are the

ones who do God's will?" He makes it clear it is a choice we have. We can choose to be a part of God's family, or we can

choose not to be. In that choice we become fertile soil for the grace of God to grow. The Kingdom of God is sure.


The other thing the parable teaches us is that in this "grace in every place" love of God we can never give up on anyone.

Look at John Newton who wrote "Amazing Grace". He started out as an abused child. He was sold into slavery himself.

He worked on is father's slave ship. He eventually became a master of his own slave ship. He then had a conversion, and

got out of the slave business. He wrote the hymn, and finally became a pastor. We never give up on anyone. There is

grace in every place.


About twenty years ago there was a decision made by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals regarding the Pledge of

Allegiance. That Court wanted to remove the words "Under God". I remember in 1954, when those words were inserted

to the Pledge of Allegiance, "Under God". There were still faithful people in this country, and there will be even if those

words are taken out. Fortunately, the Supreme Court of the land reversed the decision and they will remain in the pledge.


The young man's name was Andy. He was in the first confirmation class that a pastor led. He was one of those kids who

was the group goof-off. He never sat still. He never listened. He always talked, never about anything the class wanted to

talk about. The Pastor was certain that by the end of confirmation Andy had learned nothing.


Andy was confirmed (because there is grace in every place). He went off and did his thing. Six yeas later his sister was

in confirmation at the same church, with the same minister. She was totally different. One night Andy brought her to

confirmation class. He sat in the back of the room.


The minister was going over some of the big questions of faith, asking the class what they knew. This was material the

class had gone over and over. The kids were unusually quiet.


Finally, Andy raised his hand. He said, "Could I answer those questions?" The minister thought, "Oh boy, this is going to

be choice. I didn't know what was going to come out of this kid's mouth." Andy answered every single question.


You see, the minister was convinced that Andy was barren ground, and that nothing could grow there. But somehow by

the grace of God, seeds had gone into his soul and found rich, fertile ground, and had begun to grow, and were bearing

grain.


Dear friends, we never give up on anyone, not even ourselves, because there is grace in every place.


Thanks be to God.


MAY THESE THOUGHTS GIVE YOU STRENGTH

 
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