Pastor John Writes:
When a great crowd gathered and people from town after town came to him, Jesus said in a parable: ‘A sower went out to sow his seed; and as he sowed, some fell on the path and it 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!’ Luke 8:4-8
A pastor in Missouri tells the story of serving a declining church in a changing neighborhood. Since the whole third floor of church school classrooms was vacant, they decided to turn the rooms into a clothing ministry for the community. They collected clothing, often donated after a funeral or after a spring house cleaning. Churches in the whole area participated in stocking the clothing rooms.
Every Tuesday morning, they opened their doors for anyone who needed clothing. One room was for boys’ clothing, another for girls’ clothing, one for men’s, one for women’s, a room for toys. People were allowed to take what they needed.
One needy family included a single mother with numerous children, and the family had walked several blocks to get to the church. Several women of the church helped them carry the sacks of clothing out to a car where they gave them a ride home.
A week or so later, a church member drove by the woman’s house and noticed a pile of the clothing that they had so carefully measured and folded, over in a corner and used as padding for the dog’s bed. One of the crumpled dresses had belonged to a late grandmother in the congregation. Many people were upset that the clothes were being used in this way, and several wanted to close down the clothing rooms.
The Parable of the Sower helped, the pastor said. Jesus calls us to be generous in sowing the seeds we have, and to share the gifts we are given. And then, let go of all attachment to the outcome. Our only responsibility is to do it from a Christ-filled heart, grounded in love, and one longing for the glory of God.
The clothing room stayed open. Weeks later, one wintry Sunday morning, the pastor arrived at church early. He noticed an old pickup truck with a plow attached, clearing the snow from their parking lot. When he went out to thank the stranger, the man’s reply was: “This church helped our family with some clothing when we needed it. We’re on our feet now. This is something I can do for them.” For several years, on snowy Sunday mornings, people would arrive to find their parking lot cleared. Most hardly noticed.
The Parable of the Sower reminds us to be generous in how we share the good news, and in how we love one another. Those who have ears to hear, let them hear, now and always.