A New Look at the Sower and the Seeds

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The parable of the sower and the seeds is familiar to many students. This reflection gives a different spin on the story while encouraging all of us to joyfully share our gifts with one another. The reflection is appropriate as a classroom reflection piece, a starting place for a retreat talk, or as a faculty-staff discussion starter.

This is the text of a reflection given at the opening prayer service of the school year. The concept is interesting and could work well in a classroom or retreat setting.

Scattered them wildly about (see Matt. 13:1-53; Mark 4:1-34; Luke 8:4-15). Doesn’t that seem odd for a person relying upon the harvest for a livelihood to go about throwing seed here and there, letting nature take its course? Why didn’t the sower till the earth and fertilize it and plow furrows and painstakingly set the seed? And what about those seeds anyway? Some landed on rock to become food for the birds. Well, food for the birds is a good thing, right? So were these seeds the lucky ones who did their part? How about the seeds that fell in soil but didn’t grow deep roots? They died a quick death in the rising of the sun and became nourishment for the soil. That’s a good thing too, right? Were they the lucky ones who did their part? What about the seeds that fell into the rich soil? Is this parable of Jesus even about the seeds? Or is it about the sower?

We are embarking on a brand new year of adventure of discovering what "being rooted" is all about and what "reaching for the future" really means. This is a time of great harvest, but it is also a time of fear. Fear can cause us to be paralyzed at times. But I am not talking about this kind of fear. The fear I speak of is one that brings clarity of mind and a freedom to really live. This is a time of wild sowing, of taking risks, of throwing our talents out there and seeing what happens. This parable is really not about us as "seeds," but it is about us as "sowers." We are challenged by Christ to take risks to sow, to have faith enough to do that wildly, almost madly, giving, giving, giving without worrying what everyone else around us is doing. Christ is challenging us to get outside our little boxes, to really see with new eyes and to really do with our hands even though our hands may be small or feeble. This parable is not about how successful the crop was or how great the harvest. It is about risking over and over again. Christ does not call us to be great or fabulous sowers. He calls us to be faithful to the vision.

Let’s take this example. Suppose you have a talent for playing basketball or volleyball or for bowling. You throw your gift out there, and so do many other gifted persons. For whatever reason, you don’t make the team. What do you do? Curl up in a ball and die, or do you continue to throw your other talents out there wildly? Perhaps your seeds are ones of listening, of helping a fellow student with a chemistry problem, or risking to take a stand in religion class without fear of what others may think. Perhaps your wild, mad sowing of seeds will lead you to campaign and be elected to a class office, or lead a retreat, or chair the dance committee, or give a graduation speech.

My own wild sowing of seeds happens almost on a daily basis. Every day I know a little bit more about me. I throw my gifts out there. Some are caught and take strong hold. Some do not. The ones that are not caught do not cause me to be discouraged. That realization only causes me to sow more wildly. As the director of retreats, I challenge others to throw their seeds out there, to take a risk, to grow and share. Sure, some of the seeds fall on hard, rocky ears. Other seeds fall on ears that want to hear only what they want to hear. And then other seeds fall on rich humus. The parable ends with the line, "Let those who have ears, hear."

This year we all, not just the student body, are called to put down roots deep in our school’s soil, to stretch ourselves, to grow without paralyzing fear. We are giving you today a packet of "seeds" (actually, a packet of confetti). We challenge you to put this packet of seeds somewhere where it will remind you of Christ’s challenge of living the life of a wild sower. In June when we close our school year, a year of seed scattering, with prayer, we will ask that you bring your packets back to this worship space. More details on this will come to you when the time is ripe for the harvest.

So go throw your gifts out there and see what happens. For we are all called to be risk takers. Come on sowers, let’s scatter the seeds!


Published December 29, 1999.