The Restless Sower and the Perfect Seed (Samuel Andri)

Worship on the Lord’s Day
10:00 am September 12, 2021
Online & Onsite (Mixed Presence) Gathering as a Worshipping Community
Message by Samuel Andri
Music director: Binu Kapadia
Worship leader: Nick Nation     Elder: Heather Tansem
Children’s Time: Fionna McCrostie

We gather to worship God

Music prelude

Greeting

L: The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you
P: and also with you

Lighting of the Christ candle

Welcome and announcements

Silent preparation for worship

Opening words
L: From you, Lord, and through You, and to You, are all things
P: To Christ be the glory forever
L: Lift up your hearts!
P: We lift them up to the Lord!

*Opening praise: This is amazing grace

Who breaks the power of sin and darkness
Whose love is mighty and so much stronger
The King of Glory, the King above all kings
Who shakes the whole earth with holy thunder
Who leaves us breathless in awe and wonder
The King of Glory, the King above all kings

This is amazing grace This is unfailing love
That You would take my place
That You would bear my cross You lay down Your life
That I would be set free Jesus, I sing for
All that You’ve done for me

Who brings our chaos back into order
Who makes the orphan a son and daughter
The King of Glory, the King of Glory
Who rules the nations with truth and justice
Shines like the sun in all of its brilliance
The King of Glory, the King above all kings

Music: Josh Farror, Phil Wickham, Jeremy Riddle. Words © WB Music Corp, FBR Music, Josh’s Music. Reprinted with permission under CCLI, License #3095377. All rights reserved. Permission to stream the music in this service obtained from CCLI

Call to worship
L: God has abundantly cast God’s seeds of love and hope upon us.
P: May we be fruitful soil for the planting and growing of hope and peace.
L: Come, let us praise God who is so generous with us.
P: Let us sing songs of joy to God.
L: Hallelujah!
P: Hallelujah!

Prayers of Approach and Confession

Living God, artist of the changing skies, builder of the steadfast earth,

Lively Christ, born to walk life’s journey with us,

Spirit of life, always moving in us and among us,

Your presence surrounds us here and everywhere we go.

Your purpose holds the world in its place;

Your imagination engages us each step of the way.

In our time of worship, show us how we can serve you,

and open our imaginations to the future you create,

for we seek your guidance and your grace now and always. Amen.

God of time and eternity,

we confess that we have long memories, especially for things that hurt us,

for moments we resent or regret.

Week by week we seek your forgiveness for our mistakes,

but we confess we do not forgive others so faithfully.

Sometimes we seek opportunity to even the score.

Confront us with your mercy, O God,

and open our hearts to its cleansing power.

Response: Glory, Glory, Hallelujah

Assurance of God’s Forgiveness

God hears your cries and heals your wounded hearts. God is preparing you for good things to come. Place your trust in God who has always loved you and will always love you. Amen.

Response: Be still and know

Prayers for God’s help and guidance

God of Wisdom, send your Holy Spirit to quiet any distractions of life within us, so we may hear your voice and grow wiser as we learn to follow you. Help us to be the hearers and doers of Your Word.

We listen for the voice of God

Children’s Time                     

Gradual: Jesus, we are gathered

Story

Prayer

The Lord’s Prayer (NRSV)

Song: Great is Thy faithfulness

Great is thy faithfulness, O God my Father;
There is no shadow of turning with thee;
Thou changest not, thy compassions, they fail not;
As thou hast been thou forever wilt be.

Refrain: Great is thy faithfulness!
Great is thy faithfulness!
Morning by morning new mercies I see;
All I have needed thy hand hath provided.
Great is thy faithfulness, Lord, unto me!

Summer and winter and springtime and harvest,
Sun, moon, and stars in their courses above
Join with all nature in eloquent witness
To thy great faithfulness, mercy, and love.
Refrain                  

Pardon for sin and a peace that endureth,
Thine own dear presence to cheer and to guide,
Strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow,
Blessings all mine, with ten thousand beside!
Refrain

Words: Thomas Chisholm; music: William Runyan 1923/1951 © Hope Publishing Co. Reprinted with permission under One License, License #A735555. All rights reserved, Permission to stream the music in this service obtained from ONE LICENSE

Scripture readings                      
Psalm 65                              OT(NRSV)
Matthew 13:1-9, 18-23          NT(NRSV)

Response: Glory to the Father            

Message: “The Relentless Sower and the Perfect Seed”

Friends, most of us might have heard this ‘parable of the Sower’ so many times before.  I myself have heard this story numerous times in my Sunday school; I’ve also heard this parable preached by many preachers. Indeed, this might be one of the most well-known parables of the Bible. But here’s the problem of having heard the same story so many times: it often can become so familiar to us to the point that we no longer expect to be surprised by the story anymore.

The stories in the Bible—including this parable—are not just like any other familiar stories. Christians believe that the Bible is the written Word of God that still speaks to us by the power of the Holy Spirit. Therefore, these stories are unlike any other stories. If we believe that God still speaks to us today, then we also need to believe that the Scripture will still be full of surprises. I like what St. Augustine says, “The Scripture is a book, which was composed in such a way that as the readers mature, its meaning also grows with them.” So, today, as we listen again to this familiar story, let us open our hearts and minds to be surprised by God.

As I reflected on this parable of the Sower, I began to realize that there are two common tendencies when we read it. The first tendency is to think of this parable as speaking about four different types of “people” in hearing the Word of God. We often think, “Well, there are people who hear the word of God and don’t understand: this is like the seed that fell on the path and was eaten by the birds. There are those people who hear it, understand it, but eventually, fail to live it because they are too preoccupied with personal problems: this is like the seed that fell on the rocky ground. Then some hear it, understand it, but also fail to live it because they get too carried away by the lures of wealth and goodness that the world offers: this is like the seed that was sown among the thorns. Finally, there are those who hear it, understand it, and then live it: this is like the one sown on the good soil.” The reason for this first tendency is clearly because Matthew seems to explain it that way.

So, the first tendency is to read this parable and think of it as an explanation about four different types of people. This is not wrong since the parable clearly talks about that.

But now, there is this second tendency in reading this parable (and it is related to the first) is that because we read it as four different types of people, then almost always naturally we read this parable and see ourselves as “the good soil” type of people. And we assume the non-Christians are like the seed that fell on the path; uncle Bob like the seed on the rocky ground, and so on! But Us? We are like the seeds that fell on the good soil!

It’s odd that we almost always have this tendency to think of ourselves as the good guy in the story, isn’t it?

The reason for this second tendency, I think, maybe due to our sinful human nature. You see, the worst effect of our sinful nature is not that we do extremely bad and evil things; the worst effect of our sinful nature is that we can’t—or, perhaps, we don’t want to— recognize our need to be forgiven; the need to be given mercy; the need to be graced by God. That’s why we read this parable and we read it without even seeing ourselves as the needy ones; as the ones that are desperately in need of God’s grace.

We think we are the good guys; the ones that have it all together. Sure, we think that we need a little bit of grace, but not too much; Sure, we think we need a bit of redemption, but not too much. We’re not that bad. Just a touch of make-up here and there would work…. No need for total restoration, please, God!

So those are the two tendencies that I think we often develop when we read this parable.

But this morning, let us try to see this parable from a little different angle. What if we see the four places where the seeds fall not as four different types of people. What if we, instead, recognize that all those four types of soil actually exist in our very own hearts?

But even more than that: What if we change the focus of this parable? What if we focus not on the different types of soil but rather on the One who sows of the seeds? What if we change the focus from ourselves to God? After all, this is “the parable of the Sower” and not “the parable of the Soil!” In v. 18, Jesus clearly says, “Hear then the Parable of the sower!

If we’re looking from that angle, I think this parable can tell us something important about God and our lives. Because in here, the parable talks about our God as the Relentless Sower, who relentlessly, extravagantly, lavishly, or even “recklessly” (we might say) sown the seeds of life; the seeds of love; the seeds of the divine into our hearts, even when our hearts are absolutely unyielding like the concrete path; even when our hearts are full of rocky ground with extreme lack of soil in it; and even when our hearts are utterly thorn-infested.

God is the God who chose to generously scatter the seeds of the “fullness of life” into our hearts, in spite of us!

And God will not stop in extravagantly scattering the divine seeds to allure us back to Him; to persuade us towards the beauty of Her coming Kingdom. Indeed, God cannot force us to love Him, but God can allure us! God can persuade us! God can ‘woo’ us.

In fact, Christians have always believed that the whole creation is God’s wooing of us. The Psalmist understands this.

The heavens declare the glory of God;
the skies proclaim the work of his hands.
Day after day they pour forth speech;
night after night they reveal knowledge.
They have no speech, they use no words;
no sound is heard from them.
Yet their voice goes out into all the earth,
their words to the ends of the world.
In the heavens God has pitched a tent for the sun.
It is like a bridegroom coming out of his chamber,
Like a champion rejoicing to run his course.
It rises at one end of the heavens
and makes its circuit to the other;
nothing is deprived of its warmth.

Oh, the world is not deprived of God! Nothing is deprived of God! The world is not empty of God! It is full of God!

The presence of God—the Divine seeds—have been scattered so generously, so excessively, so extravagantly by the Good Sower into this world, even into our hearts! If only you and I have the eyes to see; if only our hearts can become like the Good soil…

Yet, it is only because of my foolishness and my sinfulness that I fail to notice and acknowledge the presence of God in God’s own creation.

For when we hear our heartbeat, do we notice God in its every beat?

Do we see the presence of God there?

When we see our children, our loved ones, our family, do we see the fingerprints of God in them?

When we look at our neighbours, do we see God in them?

When we see those who don’t look like us; who don’t think like us; who don’t speak like us; who don’t love like us, do we see God, even in them?

When we see the poor; the needy; the oppressed and marginalized; the victims; the ‘forgottens’, do we see God in them too?

And I know this one is hard: but when we see our enemies; the ones that have terribly hurt us, wronged us, took everything from us, can we still see God’s fingerprints in them as well? Can we—even with that pain that pierces so deep into our hearts— acknowledge that even their hearts beat only because of God’s love for them too?

No, Friends. The fact is we are not the good soil. Indeed, it may very well be impossible to be the good soil.

But here’s the good news: In Jesus Christ, our God is not just the “Relentless Sower,” but God is also the “Perfect Seed”. By becoming human, and showing us God’s face, and loving us so extravagantly and relentlessly that he was even willing to die for us, Christ has become the Perfect Seed  (Gen. 3:15; Gal. 3:16). Jesus Christ is the Perfect Seed that breaks through even the toughest ground of our hearts; even the most thorny and rocky ones!

I love the fact that there is a weird passage in 1 Peter 3:19-20, which says that after the crucifixion, Christ went to hell. For what? Apparently, to preach life! Did you notice that? Jesus is the Perfect Seed that breaks even through hell—the worst soil there is!

No wonder the Psalmist says, “even in the Sheol, You are there!” (Ps. 139).

Indeed, reading the parable of the Sower from this angle makes me hopeful that one day, we will see the world where the lion will lie down peacefully with the lamb; and where the swords will be beaten into ploughshares; and where people shall learn war no more.

For our God is not only the Relentless Sower that will never stop lavishly scattering the seeds of life, but in Christ Jesus, God is also the Perfect Seed that bursts through, even the toughest, the most stubborn, and the dreariest soil of my heart.

May it be so. Amen.

Song: Praise to the Lord, the Almighty

Praise to the Lord, the Almighty,
who rules all creation!
My soul, praise God,
who alone is your health and salvation!
Come, all who hear;
sisters and brothers draw near,
joining in glad adoration

Praise to the Lord,
who in all things so wondrously reigning;
hides you with sheltering wings,
ever gently sustaining!
Have you not seen
how your hearts wished have been
granted through God’s kind ordaining?

Praise to the Lord,
who will prosper your work
who defends you;
surely God’s merciful goodness
here daily attends you.
Ponder anew what the Almighty can do,
when in great love God befriends you.

Praise to the Lord!
And with all that is in me adoring!
All who have life and breath,
come with glad praises outpouring.
Let the Amen sound from God’s people again;
now and forever adoring.

Words: this version © The Presbyterian Church in Canada
Music: public domain, descant © Novello & Co. Ltd

 We respond to serve God

Prayer of gratitude

Give thanks to the Lord for he is good, his love endures forever ( Ps 188-29).

We thank you Lord for the many blessing we have received in these troubled times. There is so much that is beautiful and good that we often overlook -thank you for the exquisite beauty of the fall, the sunsets , the stars and all of nature. We thank you for the new ways we stay connected with family and friends while this pandemic continues.

We thank you for the blessings of our church family. We are grateful for each member’s unique gifts to uplift and support one another during times of joy, difficulty and sorrow.

We thank you for providing the guidance we need through our moderator Rev William Ball, Rev Anabelle Wallace and Rev Bob Calder to keep Dayspring Church functioning while we search for the new minister you have chosen for us.

We are grateful for the many different preachers who have filled the pulpit and this week we especially thank you for Sam Adri’s message.

We are grateful for the privilege to continue worship in a mixed presence format. We are grateful for the many volunteers who work behind the scenes and our access to the technology that makes worship possible .

We give you thanks in Jesus’ name                Amen

Response: Now thank we all, our God

Reflection on giving

We have been giving faithfully throughout the pandemic. This reflects our commitment to continue the ministry and mission that define Dayspring – using the various ways described on the screen and in Dayspring Weekly News. Thank you all for your contribution, which comes freely from hearts full of gratitude.

For those of you in the sanctuary, if you have offering envelops with you— simply put them in the offering plate at the back of the sanctuary as you leave the service  today.

Song: I know not why such wondrous grace

I know not why such wondrous grace
to me God has made known;
nor why, unworthy as I am,
Christ claimed me for his own.

Refrain: But I know whom I have believed
and am persuaded that Christ is able
to keep that which I’ve committed
unto him against that day.

I know not why this saving faith
to me God did impart,
nor how believing in the word
brought peace into my heart.
Refrain

I know not how the Spirit moves,
convincing me of sin,
revealing Jesus through the word,
creating faith in him:
Refrain

Words: Daniel Whittle; public domain  Music: James McGranahan; public domain

Sending out with God’s blessing

As you go, may you open the soil of your life and let the seed of God grow and to bear fruit of love, justice, and care. And may the blessing of God the Relentless Sower; The blessing of Christ the Perfect Seed; And the blessing of God’s Spirit, the water, the sunlight that nurture growth, Be with you, now and forever. Amen.

Response: Amen, we praise your name, O God

ZOOM Breakout Rooms

“This much is certain, that we have no theological right to set any sort of limits to the loving-kindness of God which has appeared in Jesus Christ. Our theological duty is to see and understand it as being still greater than we had seen before.” Karl Barth, The Humanity of God.


Samuel Andri retains the copyright on all original material presented by him in the Message and Prayers, as does Jane deCaen for the Prayer of Gratitude, which she wrote.
Otherwise, as far as the authors are aware, the material presented is their own creation or is in the public domain. Unacknowledged use of copyrighted material is unintentional and will be corrected immediately upon notification being received.

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