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Sunday, February 28, 2016

Today’s Reading | Luke 8:1–21

Soon afterwards he went on through cities and villages, proclaiming and bringing the good news of the kingdom of God. The twelve were with him, as well as some women who had been cured of evil spirits and infirmities: Mary, called Magdalene, from whom seven demons had gone out, and Joanna, the wife of Herod’s steward Chuza, and Susanna, and many others, who provided for them out of their resources.

When a great crowd gathered and people from town after town came to him, he said in a parable: “A sower went out to sow his seed; and as he sowed, some fell on the path and was trampled on, and the birds of the air ate it up. Some fell on the rock; and as it grew up, it withered for lack of moisture. Some fell among thorns, and the thorns grew with it and choked it. Some fell into good soil, and when it grew, it produced a hundredfold.” As he said this, he called out, “Let anyone with ears to hear listen!” Then his disciples asked him what this parable meant. He said, “To you it has been given to know the secrets of the kingdom of God; but to others I speak in parables, so that ‘looking they may not perceive, and listening they may not understand.’ “Now the parable is this: The seed is the word of God. The ones on the path are those who have heard; then the devil comes and takes away the word from their hearts, so that they may not believe and be saved. The ones on the rock are those who, when they hear the word, receive it with joy. But these have no root; they believe only for a while and in a time of testing fall away. As for what fell among the thorns, these are the ones who hear; but as they go on their way, they are choked by the cares and riches and pleasures of life, and their fruit does not mature. But as for that in the good soil, these are the ones who, when they hear the word, hold it fast in an honest and good heart, and bear fruit with patient endurance. “No one after lighting a lamp hides it under a jar, or puts it under a bed, but puts it on a lampstand, so that those who enter may see the light. For nothing is hidden that will not be disclosed, nor is anything secret that will not become known and come to light. Then pay attention to how you listen; for to those who have, more will be given; and from those who do not have, even what they seem to have will be taken away.” Then his mother and his brothers came to him, but they could not reach him because of the crowd. And he was told, “Your mother and your brothers are standing outside, wanting to see you.” But he said to them, “My mother and my brothers are those who hear the word of God and do it.” (NRSV)

While I wasn’t gifted with a green thumb, my maternal grandfather (or as I called him, “PaPa”) tended to a multitude of plants. He had a rose trellis, crabapple trees, tulip planters. But his prized possession was his vegetable garden.

He was always so excited to show me how with some patience, rain, and good soil, the garden would thrive. Some of my fondest memories at my grandparents’ house included the moments with my PaPa in the garden, admiring how much he tended to such fragile and new life.

In today’s scripture, we witness Jesus sharing one of his more complex parables with his disciples. At its core, the Parable of the Sower relates to the variety of ways we react to, and nourish, the word of God within ourselves and share it with others. At our weakest points, we let our faith falter and wither away. But at our strongest points, when we embrace God’s word through prayer, discipleship, and good works, we truly nurture our faith and deepen our relationship with God.

It may seem simple to deepen our faith when life is calm and steady, but how do we nourish and tend to our faith during the stressful and demanding days we encounter unexpectedly? This is our greatest challenge as Christians: to continue to grow and thrive despite the thorns we meet on our human journey. With the same patience and love we put into our earthly gardens, we too can nurture our fragile faith and prayer.

Dear God, cultivate my faith among strong, deep roots. Allow me to discover my growing faith within your love. Let me share that faith with all whom I encounter, through my words and through my deeds, in Christ’s name. Amen.

Written by Jackie Lorens, Director, Chicago Lights Elam Davies Social Service Center

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