Many a kindergarten or nursery school or Sunday School has had children planting seeds in little pots - to be patiently watered and set in a sunny window until the seeds, springing to life, burst from the soil with their little green shoots. I well remember as a child, going each morning to check on the seeds in my nursery school classroom (which we had planted in little yogurt cups with holes poked in the bottoms), and my excitement when I saw the first of the seeds coming up in those little containers. I also remember my disappointment because the seeds in other children’s cups came up while my seeds still had not shown their faces. And my joy as those little seedling sprouts finally reared their heads out of the soil!

Chapter 13 of Matthew, from which our gospel lesson for today is taken, begins the third major discourse that Jesus will share with those gathered around him. Here Jesus tells the Parable of the Sower – where the victory of the kingdom of God is sure and not dependent on our work for its harvest! The sowing of the seed is just as mysterious and unavailable to be observed as were those seeds germinating in old yogurt containers in my nursery school classroom. This is because the sowing of the seed and the harvest that will come is undertaken and dependent on Jesus’ work, not ours. This does not mean that our choices and actions do not matter, but it does make clear who the Author of the good seed planted in all of our lives and this world actually is – God in Christ. And that it is Christ’s efforts that makes possible the work of redemption – the planting of good seed in our lives and this world, as well as the abundant harvest.

Up near Albany, NY there is a Community Supported Agriculture project called Soulfire Farm. One of the things that I think is remarkable about Soulfire Farm is that its founder Lea Penniman, when she was looking for land upon which to start this farm, specifically wanted land that was not considered good for growing. Whereas most farms today depend on a model where the vegetables grown gradually deplete the soil, requiring ever more chemical fertilizers to achieve maximum results and harvest, in every year since Soulfire Farm was founded, they have tracked how the soil quality has improved on the land they are tending through their actively responsible growing methods and their natural soil enrichment practices that include compost and crop rotation. Everything that Soulfire Farm does reflects what they believe. Their doing is informed by their being.

So, too, are we as Christians invited to see that everything that we do deserves to be informed by our deepening understanding of who we are and to whom we belong. Namely to God in Christ who is the Great Sower of the seed. There will be times when our lives are choked with weeds and thorns, just as the seed described in this passage. There will likely be times if there haven’t already, when we find ourselves out on the rocks, beaten down by the sun and dried out. Thankfully it is not the conditions of our lives or our own strength that cultivates a verdant harvest in our lives, but Christ who is the faithful Sower, and who never gives up on sowing good seed in us. And because we know that Christ is faithfully sowing seed for a good harvest in our lives, we can seek to make decisions that flow from this belief and the knowledge of God’s redemptive work through Christ for us and for this world.

We can be people building daily practices of prayer and devotion and listening for God. We can be people striving to gather with our faith community in Worship, Service, Learning, and Fellowship as we carry out our mission to “Share Christ’s Welcome.” We can be people who seek with God’s help to shine with grace and love in our workplaces and with our families, in our volunteering and in our politics. And we can trust that the good harvests that come amidst the challenges of our lives and this world will taste all the sweeter because we know that they are made possible by God to whom we give praise and thanksgiving. And as we develop more gratitude to God and Christ for God’s work in action in our lives and the world, this in turn will cause us to desire to live lives that give God praise.

Sometimes I think that I learned everything that I ever needed to know about life in nursery school and Sunday School. How to plant little seeds and wait for them to germinate. How to share space and resources with other kids as we made crafts and sang songs and played games. How to work out differences with our words not our fists. How to take what we learned and created in the classroom and bring it home and into the world with little seedling pots or pictures made for our families and homes, or with the songs we learned and then brought to nursing homes and Christmas caroling on the streets of our towns.

Of course, we must grow into seeing the deeper complexities of this life that were not apparent to me in Sunday School or nursery school - the challenges of this broken world where sin runs rampant among us all. Yet these complexities are held in the arms of the Mighty Sower, and they are being worked over like that land found by Lea, the founder of Soulfire Farm; each year with compost and enrichment, the quality of the soil improved, allowing for the actions undertaken on the farm and in our lives to be more fruitful, to multiply for the good and the many.