• Rev. James B. Lemler Photo: Helen Neafsey / ST / Greenwich Time

“A sower went out to sow a seed…”

This is the beginning of one of the “word pictures” or parables that Jesus of Nazareth told as reported in Matthew’s Gospel. Jesus used this rich Hebrew tradition of parables to express ideas and images of the sovereign love and rule of God.

During these summer weeks, the lectionary used by so many Christian churches takes us parable by parable through Jesus’ teaching, and so many of them are about seeds and growth.

I am especially tuned to these wonderful stories this summer. It may be because Sharon and I are retiring to Indiana, one of those states where agriculture is evident and important. Perhaps the reader is aware of that, perhaps not.

It was a good Connecticut resident, actress Katherine Hepburn, who when asked about Indiana simply responded, “It’s West of here…” Yes, Katherine, it is. And once outside of the urban areas, it is a sea of field and growth… corn, soybeans, vegetables, fruits… you name it.

This agricultural scene was even more the case of Jesus of Nazareth. Although most of the disciples he chose were fishermen, agriculture and growth were everywhere to be seen. So, it’s no fluke or oddity that the Nazareth teacher talks about seeds growing, weeds and varmints attacking, sun scorching and harvests happening.

He’s not the local agricultural reporter though. Rather, he is using these common everyday images to talk about the purpose and activity of God. These parables are delightful… tiny seeds growing into great bushes, young plants overcoming harsh conditions, hopeful and great yields at harvest time, workers being shown mercy and generosity… I could go on.

What strikes me most is the sense of growth and vitality. Things are planted and grow. There is vitality and life bursting forth. Jesus says that this is precisely what the love and purpose of God are like……