Plan B. Of Seeds and Sowers and the Dream of God.
Easter 6, Common Lectionary Year A
Matthew 13: 1-9
©2017 Rev Elisabeth R Jones
While I love the way that Matthew shares
Jesus the Parable storyteller with us,
there’s this tendency he has,
an incapacity to leave well alone.
Jesus throws out the parable, and Matthew snags it back again,
interjecting with a judgmental explanation
that stings worse than a bee.
We didn’t read his interjections
but many of us know them from our Sunday School days.
“You’d best pray to be the seed that lands on good soil.”
– as if the kingdom is a lottery with low odds of winning.
“You’d better be good soil, not rocky, nor weed ridden, or non-existent.”
– as if God makes junk to be rejected.
But if we let Jesus throw his parabola unencumbered,
if we turn and turn these parables by ourselves,
if we let them write themselves into our own lives and experience
of a Living, Resurrecting God,
-as we’ve been doing in spades this past month with the children’s bean seeds-
we notice something:
the Dream of God becomes earthy, organic,
messy, wild and free, indiscriminate, unpredictable,
and as full of failure as of heaven!
God, it seems, is able, happy even, to work,
not only with Plan A, the Dream,
but Plan B, what happens for us and God when that Dream meets the world.
Jesus told not just the one parable of seeds, sowers and soil
that we shared with the children,
but a series of them, one after the other,
each deepening and complexifying the one that went before.
Let me share one of them with you, and I think
Listen and I think you’ll hear God,
more than willing to work something life-giving out of potential disaster,
to go with Plan B.
Jesus’ parable goes like this:
A farmer plants a field of wheat,
but while everyone was sleeping,
somehow – was it a trickster? –
weed seeds are also sown in the field.
When the shoots appear, it’s obvious that the field
is as full of weeds
as it is of wheat.
“What do you want us to do?”
ask the farmer’s field hands, still clinging to Plan A.
To which the Farmer – God – goes to Plan B:
“Let them both grow, weeds and wheat;
there’s soil enough to produce the harvest.”
That’s some Plan B!
That’s some Dream,
that’s some supreme confidence
in the power of goodness and life
to win out in the end, without our help!
To live with the messiness and the ambiguity,
trusting in the ultimate goodness, fecundity of life itself,
that’s got to be God’s Dream!
A God willing to let the ambiguities remain,
to work within them;
not just in a field of wheat and weeds,
but in the ambiguities of human existence;
seizing the time of unemployment as a gift
to be spent in part in quality time with growing children
or aging parents;
the surprises of joy that splash red like poppies
in the daily round of work, or parenting,
or the juggling of both!
The Plan B Dream of God can be heard and seen as
laughter and tears that mingle in a palliative care room.
It is sown and harvested in the healing of relationships .
Plan B is filled with grace and life!
God’s Dream is,
Jesus says, near at hand, here among us, now!
Not because it’s perfect, plan A,
and somehow above, and beyond our lived experience,
but because it is here amongst us,
thriving in the thick of the messiness
and ambiguity of human lives and of creation.
Back to our original parable;
could it be, that with God’s Dream,
when it meets the world,
seeds that fall on the path, are not failures;
they become food for birds – God’s beloved?!
Seeds sown right to the edge of the field inevitably fall,
a few of them,
into the hedgerows, where blackberry thorns grow,
and mice and voles make their home,
and burrow and aerate the soil,
and those seeds, overtaken by the abundant weeds,
are not precious perfectionist weaklings, doomed
for their failure to thrive,
but they find their transient place in the diversity and mortality of creation.
When God’s Dream meets creation,
the sun which scorches and burns,
is the same sun which rises each morning,
warming soil and plant,
drawing all growing things towards its light,
until, despite the weeds, the drought, the rain, the cold,
the hungry birds, the twists and turns,
the thousand natural shocks that flesh is heir to,
the plans B through Z,
God’s harvest is gathered.
Is it enough?
That’s the resurrection miracle. It is enough,
always enough for “them” to have life,
and have it abundantly. Enough.
Bernard Brandon Scott says,
“We are left with a parable of God’s kingdom
in which failure, miracle and normality are the coordinates”
of God’s activity.
In our ordinariness, in our failures,
in the world’s clumsiness, and failing,
God is ever at work, on Plan B, Plan C,
so that harvests of goodness will be gathered
from the sowings and scatterings, and seedings
of God’s Life-Abundant Dream.
And I don’t know about you, but for me,
for my way of living in this world,
this changes everything.