Saturday, July 9, 2011

God: a really, really bad farmer.

I'm beginning this sermon with a reading from Giants in the Earth (Thanks Dave Nelson!); a passage where a new immigrant from Norway, Hansa, is looking forward to planting his very own fields for the first time; and how anxiously he waits to put them in the ground (ultimately putting them in too soon, and losing much of his crop)...

    Although more than a few decades have passed since Per Hansa has planted his fields.  I would imagine that the same amount of anxiety and excitement and risk goes into spreading those grains upon the earth.  When it comes close to planting time, I know that the farmers are running out each day, testing the moisture, reading the fields, rating the temperature.  And then when the time is perfect, just has Hansa meticulously and lovingly placed each kernel into the soil…farmers today do the same, only now instead of a bag slung over a shoulder, he or she has a big ol’ planter with GPS letting them know exactly the right spots to release the precious commodity.  Yet, however that seed is placed in the ground, there is always calculation, care, and precision…each farmer longing for the most perfect and plenteous yield.   

            Our God on the other hand, is a really, really bad farmer…reckless to say the least.  God’s got the bag slung over a shoulder and the grain running through her hands…but instead of perfectly marked rows and hours spent soil testing; instead of painstakingly placing each individual kernel in its appropriate place, God grabs a handful a joyfully tosses it up into the air.  And moving a few steps forward or backward (or to the right or to the left)…it really doesn’t matter, our really bad farmer God takes another handful and throws it as far as the eye can see…and because I imagine God throws pretty far, maybe even farther than the eye can see.  And then taking another giant leap, does the same thing.  Over and over again, a hand dips into the shoulder bag and with seeds spilling around his feet and being dropped wherever they land, the harvest is planted and the work begun.

            I wonder…if any of you farmers out there would trust God to plant your next crop.  Because it kind of looks like your way of doing things might just yield a few more bushels to the acre than God’s does.  God’s way seems a little bit crazy…God’s way seems to be nothing like our way….But then again, God’s way is really never like our way. 

            If our way is to be prudent and regimented and particular, God’s way is to be generous….God’s way is to be extravagant.  I know you’ve heard the sermon already about the type of soil you’re supposed to be; you don’t want to be rocky or too shallow or thorny…but, what if this lovely parable isn’t really about you (I know it’s a stretch…); what if this parable is about the kind of God who is so in love with the world, that the only way to live in it, is to be a God of abundance, a God of generosity, a God of extravagance. 

            Someone told me recently that scientists have been able to chart so much more of space than ever before, and recently they discovered a black hole that is literally millions of light years across; our God is even extravagant with nothingness…extravagant with the seeds that fall upon the earth; extravagant with the life of a Son who gave up absolutely everything; extravagant with a love that is showered upon us, no that we have thorns that prick and rocks that stab.  Our God couldn’t care less about where grace falls, just that it abundantly rains upon us. 

            You probably noticed that our baptismal font is filled with seed…maybe it makes a little more sense now; just like the seed that God spreads abundantly, recklessly in the world, is the waters that washed you in your baptism; extravagant, unearned, amazing grace that flowed over your head and into your heart.  Waters rained down from the hands of God…with such wild abandon that its presence gives new life to all it touches.

            How might your life be different if you knew that as you walked down the street this afternoon, or sat at your desk on Tuesday morning; or fed your family dinner on Friday that surrounding you were precious seeds from heaven, that have been recklessly, graciously abundantly scattered from the fingers of God?  How might you encounter the world if you lived as one who followed a crazy farmer God who didn’t care much about following rules and content moisture and regulations, but who graciously watered and seeded everyone within reach?  I imagine we might be a little more generous, a little more gracious, a little more reckless with the love we’ve been given.  It’s hard to say…and I wouldn’t want to tell you farmers how to plant a field, but I do want to tell you followers that being a disciple this kind of God just might leave the world looking like the garden that God intended…

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