On Wednesday of this week, November 17, Lizzie Reynolds continues her podcast series of reflections on the Gospel of Luke. This week, Lizzie will be looking at Luke 8 – the parable of the sower.
If you long for a reflective and contemplative time of immersion in Word and prayer, we hope that you’ll join Lizzie every second Wednesday for the rest of this term.
Welcome everyone. Welcome to Abide: a time where each one of us can pull away individually and yet join communally together to return to our source, to return to our Creator, our sustainer, and remember where we've come from, where we're going, and what's most important. And so, wherever your prayer place is - whether you're out on a walk or you're sitting upright in a chair or you're lying down - may you begin to get settled into this place, taking a nice deep breath in and exhaling out. And again, breathe in, and out.
I'm going to read to you from a song that I enjoy - the little refrain from - and it's by Margaret Rizza. And it's a short 4 lines, but may this be a calming word and blessing as we begin this time of prayer together.
Calm me- calm me Lord, as you calmed the storm. Still me Lord; keep me from harm. Let all the tumult within me cease. Enfold me Lord in your peace.
And maybe you have a blanket or I know for me I have a shawl today, where I can sort of enfold myself in this warmth, in this peace, in this time where we can give our attention to our Lord and Savior.
Calm me Lord, as you've calmed the storm. Still me Lord; keep me from harm. Let all the tumult within me cease. Enfold me Lord in your peace.
And from this quieting space we will begin our gratitude practice. And you know, as humans, we almost skate across our life or live on the top of it, and so this is a time to sink in, and to notice - take a second look. Go back, revisit all that God is doing- all that your eyes have seen or your ears have heard. And so, I'm going to give you the freedom in this gratitude practice today to review the last day or so. And you might focus in on one thing that you're grateful for, or it might be many things that come to mind.
And so I'm going to give you one minute to do this, and the minute starts now.
Wonderful. We continue in our journey through the Gospel of Luke, and today we find ourselves in Luke Chapter 8 and the Parable of the Sower.
“After this, Jesus traveled about from one town and village to another, proclaiming the good news of the Kingdom of God. The 12 were with him and also some women who had been cured of evil spirits and diseases: Mary, called Magdalene, from whom 7 demons had come out; Joanna, the wife of Kuza, the manager of Herod’s household; Susanna, and many others. These women were helping to support them out of their own means.
“While a large group was gathering and people were coming to Jesus from town after town, he told this parable: “A farmer went out to sow his seed, and as he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path. It was trampled on and the birds of the air ate it up. Some fell on rock, and when it came up, the plants withered because they had no moisture. Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up with it and choked the plants. Still other seed fell on good soil. It came up and yielded a crop 100 times more than was sown.”
“When he said this, he called out, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear.”
“His disciples asked him what this parable meant, and he said, “The knowledge of the secrets of the Kingdom of God has been given to you. But to others I speak in parables so that though seeing, they may not see; though hearing, they may not understand. This is the meaning of the parable: the seed is the Word of God. Those along the path are the ones who hear and then the devil comes and takes away the Word from their hearts so that they may not believe and be saved. Those on the rock are the ones who receive the Word with joy, and when they hear it, but they have no root. They believe for a while, but in time of testing, they fall away. The seed that fell among the thorns stands for those who hear, but as they go on their way, they are choked by life’s worries, riches and pleasures and they do not mature. But the seed on good soil stands for those with a noble and good heart, who hear the Word retain it, and by persevering, produce a crop.”
May these words rest upon you- heart, mind and body.
“After this, Jesus traveled about from one town and village to another, proclaiming the good news of the Kingdom of God. The 12 were with him and also some women who had been cured of evil spirits and diseases: Mary, called Magdalene, from whom 7 demons had come out; Joanna, the wife of Kuza, the manager of Herod’s household; Susanna, and many others. These women were helping to support them out of their own means.”
Luke once again focuses our eyes on the contributions of women. And here in this passage we hear about many women, that is- that are with Jesus and the disciples. We hear of Mary, Joanna, Susanna. And these women are paying the way. They are supporting these men to travel and to preach. They are very much a part of the gospel story- the gospel being spread.
Many times, we skip over these parts, but I think Luke has a point here for us to notice: who are the women in your life that have supported you- have paved a way for you, whether it be financially, emotionally, physically? Women who have provided a safe space to live, to share. Who are those women in your life, as we see here in the life of Jesus and the disciples? Take a moment now to celebrate and to notice those women.
“While a large crowd was gathering and people were coming to Jesus from town after town, he told this parable: “A farmer went out to sow his seed, and as he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path. Some fell on the rock. Some fell on the thorns, and some fell on good soil.””
Can you picture with me and imagine a farmer: he’s going out and he's grabbing seed from his basket and he's throwing it out so generously and sloppily and not worrying about where every little seed will drop, but the abundance and the generosity and the freedom of this farmer - I find it so entertaining. Why wouldn't the farmer place it very specifically in just the soil? Why is this farmer just so generous and the generosity is flying everywhere?
I wonder in your life where you see abundance- the abundance of God. When I walk on the streets and see all the seeds and the acorns and the leaves and- we don't worship a stingy God. We worship a God of abundance and so much giving and overflowing, and messily... it's surely a sight to be seen: a loving farmer who loves life, who doesn't hold back to be careful, but He's an outrageous God.
And sure, this parable might bring questions, like: Why aren't the seeds just put in soil? Why wasn't the farmer careful? And so, we see the character of God in this farmer. We see how Jesus is speaking in this parable to unmask behaviors and beliefs of the audience. And here we just have a lesson on plants and seeds and living in this atmosphere of- takes a lot for the seed to make it! And God has great compassion and understanding on that seed that produces that bumper crop.
“When he said this, he called out, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear.” His disciples asked him what this parable meant, and he said, “The knowledge of the secrets of the Kingdom of God has been given to you. But to others I speak in parables so that though seeing, they may not see, and though hearing, they may not understand.”
We have eyes and we have ears. We see and we hear and yet we don't change. We know that if we truly do hear and see, we will be obedient. We will make changes. We will observe ourselves and observe the God You are and desire to seek and to find and to place ourselves in that rich soil.
So, God, we are reminded again that our ears need opening and our eyes need opening, and we also need follow-through. And so, we ask for your Spirit to shine light in our souls now, as we move further into the passage.
“This is the meaning of the parable: the seed is the Word of God. Those along the path are the ones who hear and then the devil comes and takes away the Word from their hearts so that they may not believe and be saved. And those on the rock are the ones who receive the Word with joy when they hear it, but they have no root. They believe for a while, but in the time of testing, they fall away. The seed that fell among the thorns stands for those who hear, but as they go on their way, they're choked by life’s worries, riches and pleasures, and they do not mature. But the seed on good soil stands for those with a noble and a good heart who hear the Word, retain it, and by persevering, produce a crop.”
The seeds in our farmers basket- he grabs the Word and throws it out to all. The Word being these Scriptures, the Word being Jesus himself; he is abundantly given, everywhere. And we might not understand the way the farmer works, and the way the seeds fall, and what happens to each one of the seeds, but we do know that we want to be that fourth seed.
And so, let's take a moment now to observe some of the things that might stand in our way of that seed in us maturing and growing. There's words like, “It was great to receive the Word at first, and then it didn't really last. It was like a fad.” And I wonder, is there anything in your life that you tried with God for a bit but then it just wore off. And it's hard to stay with it when the rest of your friends or your community really aren't participating in that prayer or in that, the quiet or in the worship. It just- it came and then it went.
Or what about the seed that had some soil and really started to grow, but then it gets choked out by the worries, the riches, the pleasures? You know this farmer, he's so aware of his seed and he's so aware of the ground it falls on and the challenges that it will undergo. He knows how strong thorns are and brambles and our Father understands what it's like to be in a human body and work with worry; work with the need to succeed; work with passions and money. And so, I just give you this moment now to talk with God about what's choking out the Word. What's choking out Jesus himself in your life? What's louder? What’s luring you away? It's real, it's powerful, and so it's just so important for us to observe ourselves in a day and observe where we start drifting. And you know, the sin isn't necessarily the drifting, but not noticing it and not working to move back into our first love.
And so, observe yourself in freedom without judgment, and just notice what really gets you. Maybe worries about your future and just not knowing where God’s leading you, and it chokes out your simple peace and rest and the knowledge that God loves you.
Maybe stuff gets in the way. All the new glitter, and glam and games; fabrics and fibers and adventures and going places, and just the pursuit of stuff drowns out that's still small voice.
Maybe just the pleasures of life and having fun and feeling beautiful or feeling smart or just that desire for life to have ease and everything we’ve ever wanted and pursuing that begins to choke out your life line: the Word of God.
I just want you to know that you are and we are in good company- that the farmer knows that the seeds will struggle to germinate, and that God knows that his people, in this world, will have trouble. But if they can observe where the trouble is and where it comes from for them, and they're not afraid to continue to surrender that to me and make different choices and grow... well, then those little seeds will mature, will persevere. They won't give up, and they'll produce a crop.
Be encouraged this day that we have a generous God. Be encouraged this day that God brings women, men, children; He uses all things to continue to support, to grow you, and mature you. Be encouraged today that perseverance is required in this life; that observing yourself, how you work and the choices you make, that they're not set in stone, that you can make changes bit by bit by bit. Baby steps.
May we all encourage each other and spur one another on toward maturation. May we draw nearer to the people, to the places, to the words, to the silences that encourage our growth. And may we say no or turn around or use our time differently for the things that tear us down- that choke the light.
Spirit, would you gently guide us into deeper growth. Would you help our ears to hear and our eyes to see? We love you God. We're so grateful to be a part of you and your large family and also the Tyndale community, that we might mature.
So, we close this time of prayer saying, “Glory be to the Father, to the Son, and to the Spirit, as it was in the beginning, as it is today, and ever shall be, world without end.”
Go in peace my friends to grow, to live, and to love.
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