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Lenten Devotions from Fourth Presbyterian Church

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Today’s Scripture Reading | Mark 4:1–20

Again he began to teach beside the sea. Such a very large crowd gathered around him that he got into a boat on the sea and sat there, while the whole crowd was beside the sea on the land. He began to teach them many things in parables, and in his teaching he said to them: “Listen! A sower went out to sow. And as he sowed, some seed fell on the path, and the birds came and ate it up. Other seed fell on rocky ground, where it did not have much soil, and it sprang up quickly, since it had no depth of soil. And when the sun rose, it was scorched; and since it had no root, it withered away. Other seed fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked it, and it yielded no grain. Other seed fell into good soil and brought forth grain, growing up and increasing and yielding thirty and sixty and a hundredfold.” And he said, “Let anyone with ears to hear listen!”

When he was alone, those who were around him along with the twelve asked him about the parables. And he said to them, “To you has been given the secret of the kingdom of God, but for those outside, everything comes in parables; in order that

    ‘they may indeed look, but not perceive,
    and may indeed listen, but not understand;
    so that they may not turn again and be forgiven.’”

And he said to them, “Do you not understand this parable? Then how will you understand all the parables? The sower sows the word. These are the ones on the path where the word is sown: when they hear, Satan immediately comes and takes away the word that is sown in them. And these are the ones sown on rocky ground: when they hear the word, they immediately receive it with joy. But they have no root, and endure only for a while; then, when trouble or persecution arises on account of the word, immediately they fall away. And others are those sown among the thorns: these are the ones who hear the word, but the cares of the world, and the lure of wealth, and the desire for other things come in and choke the word, and it yields nothing. And these are the ones sown on the good soil: they hear the word and accept it and bear fruit, thirty and sixty and a hundredfold.” (NRSV)

This passage leads me to ask: what is good soil? For a seed to be sown in soil that bears fruit and multiplies a hundredfold, the soil must be complicated, collaborative, and resilient. What environments support “good soil”?

Mycelium is fungi that is one of the oldest organisms on earth (it was around 1.3 billion years ago) and is one of the largest organisms on earth (you can check it out in Oregon). It’s an incredible life force, creating interwebs that can be as large as eight miles per cubic inch of soil. It breaks down deceased plant life, and has the capacity to cleanse and renew some forms of toxic land that are no longer fertile. Scientist Paul Stamets suggests mycelium can restore land destroyed after storms. Mycelium is a key organism that supports “good soil” with its collaborative, resilient, and detoxifying characteristics. I wonder if Jesus calls us to learn from mycelium as we discern how to be disciples today. How can our churches and our families nurture “good soil” for God’s world on earth? I love how Jesus’ parable of the sower pushes us to look at literal fertile soil not just as a metaphor, but to actually learn from God’s vision-building strategies that already exist in creation.

To bear faithful fruit, we must collaborate with diverse communities. We must learn from our mistakes and seek healing from the ailments and oppressions that make our church soil rocky. We can find strength through one another. Knowing there’s some fungus among us in our Christian family gives me hope for our future.

Sower of life, help us live faithful lives that mimic good soil for the healing and fruit-bearing of your world. Amen.           

Written by Abbi Heimach-Snipes, Pastoral Resident

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