Reminder: Resurrection’s goal is to read all of Luke during Lent. So many of the daily reading portions are somewhat longer than usual.
1 Soon afterward, Jesus traveled through the cities and villages, preaching and proclaiming the good news of God’s kingdom. The Twelve were with him, 2 along with some women who had been healed of evil spirits and sicknesses. Among them were Mary Magdalene (from whom seven demons had been thrown out), 3 Joanna (the wife of Herod’s servant Chuza), Susanna, and many others who provided for them out of their resources.
4 When a great crowd was gathering and people were coming to Jesus from one city after another, he spoke to them in a parable: 5 “A farmer went out to scatter his seed. As he was scattering it, some fell on the path where it was crushed, and the birds in the sky came and ate it. 6 Other seed fell on rock. As it grew, it dried up because it had no moisture. 7 Other seed fell among thorny plants. The thorns grew with the plants and choked them. 8 Still other seed landed on good soil. When it grew, it produced one hundred times more grain than was scattered.” As he said this, he called out, “Everyone who has ears should pay attention.”
9 His disciples asked him what this parable meant. 10 He said, “You have been given the mysteries of God’s kingdom, but these mysteries come to everyone else in parables so that when they see, they can’t see, and when they hear, they can’t understand [Isa 6:9].
11 “The parable means this: The seed is God’s word. 12 The seed on the path are those who hear, but then the devil comes and steals the word from their hearts so that they won’t believe and be saved. 13 The seed on the rock are those who receive the word joyfully when they hear it, but they have no root. They believe for a while but fall away when they are tempted. 14 As for the seed that fell among thorny plants, these are the ones who, as they go about their lives, are choked by the concerns, riches, and pleasures of life, and their fruit never matures. 15 The seed that fell on good soil are those who hear the word and commit themselves to it with a good and upright heart. Through their resolve, they bear fruit.
16 “No one lights a lamp and then covers it with a bowl or puts it under a bed. Instead, they put it on top of a lampstand so that those who enter can see the light. 17 Nothing is hidden that won’t be exposed. Nor is anything concealed that won’t be made known and brought to the light. 18 Therefore, listen carefully. Those who have will receive more, but as for those who don’t have, even what they seem to have will be taken away from them.”
19 Jesus’ mother and brothers came to him but were unable to reach him because of the crowd. 20 Someone told him, “Your mother and brothers are standing outside, wanting to see you.”
21 He replied, “My mother and brothers are those who listen to God’s word and do it.”
Jesus (perhaps watching a farmer tossing handfuls of seed) told a parable about four kinds of soil. His story asked his hearers (and each of us) to consider what kind of soil heaven’s seed finds in our heart. And remember: the women in verses 2 and 3 were examples of good “soil,” despite their unusual backgrounds or life situations! In verses 19-21, Jesus said people like them were part of his heavenly family.
Lord Jesus, you keep sowing the seed of your kingdom even though not everyone responds to it. Keep teaching me how to keep the soil of my heart receptive to you. Amen.
As I write this week, we are all re-thinking our individual and collective lives in light of the COVID-19 outbreak. It’s heartening to see people and communities making choices for the well-being of all, even when that means great sacrifice.
Many of us are reeling from the cancellation of events, routines. Our busy calendars have more open spaces than usual, our fast forward lives may have come to full stop or at least slowed significantly. It may feel like our lives have gone from 100 to 10 mph in just a few days. At the same time, for many of us new responsibilities emerge with children home from school or remote work rhythms to establish.
What might it mean for us to receive these newly opened spaces in our lives as an invitation to nourishment? How might these disruptions in daily life be opening up free space to just breathe? How might new rhythms of family life and work be an invitation to lay down our frenetic pace and experiment with more expansive rhythms? To not rush to fill up the empty space with distractions, or constant news? Instead, we can pause, perhaps a new experience of sabbath, to nourish ourselves, nourish our soil, to cultivate fertile ground for abundant life to grow.
In the parable of the sower (Luke 8:4-15) Jesus reminds us that it is not our busyness and accomplishments, even religious ones, that determines the fruit of our lives. Rather, it is the condition of our soil, a place of slow, steady nourishment for growth.
What nourishes you? What nourishes your family?
God meets us in this present moment, and we are perhaps less preoccupied now and more available. As we step into a wide-open, spacious life,* we can have eyes to see and ears to hear the ways God invites us into nourishment. Nourishment of connecting to ourselves and to others. Nourishment of pausing to be present in our own lives. Nourishment of creativity and play. Nourishment from springtime as new life breaks forth around us. Nourishment of unscheduled, unhurried time. Nourishment for abundant life.
Nourish your soil. Let’s take the newly opened spaces in our lives to cultivate the conditions for the love of God to grow in your life and overflow in blessing in the world.
* "wide-open, spacious life" is a phrase coined by Eugene Peterson in his Message translation of 2 Corinthians 6:11-13.
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