Last year, our Bashaw Community Theatre presented a small ensemble of young people (and one old piano player) in a production of 'Godspell.' It was a great show, lively and energetic, full of all that life you wish that a Sunday morning in church would have.
There's some great music in 'Godspell' and the story is really the parables of Jesus from Matthew and Luke. These are presented by Jesus and his followers as if they were a travelling troupe of actors, using whatever props or set happen to be handy. So the parables are not just words, but are brought to life by the characters. Again, wouldn't it be great if we always put that much life into them.
The Parable of the Sower (Matthew 13:1-23) is interesting because the troupe portrays the seed and the different environments it lands in: the path, the rocky ground, the thorns and the good soil. So the parable is already, in a way, being interpreted in how they act it out - it's about people, isn't it? As Jesus explains, "when anyone hears the word of the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what is sown in the heart; this is what was sown on the path. As for what was sown on rocky ground, this is the one who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy; yet such a person has no root, but endures only for a while, and when trouble or persecution arises on account of the word, that person immediately falls away. As for what was sown among thorns, this is the one who hears the word, but the cares of the world and the lure of wealth choke the word, and it yields nothing. But as for what was sown on good soil, this is the one who hears the word and understands it, who indeed bears fruit" (Matthew 13:19-23).
So we have it acted out as Jesus explains it. Clearly we are the different landscapes the word lands on and we definitely want to be good soil.
Okay, that's one perspective. So how do we be good soil if we're rock? Or weedy? Or always on the go (that's how I like to think of the seed that lands on the path)? And, by the way, good soil is still not enough for us to grow. We also need sunlight and water and nurture and the occasional bit of fertilizer.
Of course we want to be the well-tilled and cared for soil, but I also think that each of us is capable of being any of those other things - hard as a rock, overwhelmed or shallow - at various times in our lives, just as easily as we can judge others to be so (something else we seem to do).
Good thing the sower still casts the seed everywhere. I know it seems counter to our need to maximize efficiency and invest in the best potential return, but God's love isn't like that: it's for all. And Jesus didn't share God's love with only those who society deemed to be the most fertile ground, he shared it with those whose lives were hard, the marginalized, persecuted and oppressed, those who rejected society as much as society rejected them.
We might sometimes think it wasteful, but God's love makes new paths, it finds its way into the cracks and overwhelms the thorns. We, too, must live God's love as Jesus did, casting it widely for all, not just those we think will welcome it. We, too, must love those whose journey is different, whose life is complicated, who need compassion, care and support. We, too, must love those who challenge us and reject us. We, too, must risk loving with this kind of extravagance.