As a child, my father trained my brothers and me about the ins and outs of planting a vegetable garden. My father is a very organized man. He spends time planning out his garden: where it will be, when to rotatill the soil, how big the garden will be, and which way the rows will be facing. He planned when to acquire plants or seeds and when they were to be planted and where. When we planted with him, we planted in straight rows with a particular organizational scheme. There were wooden sticks one at each end of the row attached by a string or wire so we could plant each plant or seed in an exact location. Each row was then labeled so we would remember which plants were planted where while we were weeding.
But then everything changed in 2002 when my maternal grandmother joined our household. She also loved to garden but with a very different method than the one my father preferred. Her method never would have been acceptable if my brothers or I used it. My grandmother would find the green bean seeds and go out during the day when everyone was at work and stick her hand into the bag and just throw the seeds all over the place in the garden. If my father was lucky the garden would already have been tilled but many times it wasn’t.
No one ever said anything to her because this was how she always planted her gardens. There really wasn’t much in the way of organization or planning. And you never quite knew where green beans were going to turn up later in the growing season. But they always grew. They grew just as well without the careful planning and guidance and the crop that was yielded was still sun kissed, delicious, and plentiful. She would weed as well and always seemed to know almost instinctually the difference between the weeds and the plants. Even when the dementia set in, she expertly knew which little green plants to remove and which to take careful care of.
Jesus used the same type of image in his parable from today’s scriptures. He was discussing the movement of the message that he shared his message about the kingdom of God. The words of grace and life that he shared was not organized or carefully planned out. But instead he wandered around and shared the good news with all who would listen hoping that the message of a loving, forgiving, and very present God would fall on hearts that were ready to hear and act upon the words of life. He scattered the message very much like my grandmother scattered seeds: a little haphazardly, not knowing in whom they would take root and for how long. But he trusted that the message he shared would touch enough hearts and lives even if he would never see for himself the products of his life’s work. The disciples would preach in the same manner. Robert Louis Stevenson a novelist of the 19th century advised, “Don’t judge each day by the harvest you reap but by the seeds that you plant”. You never know just what affect on people we might have or how our work may change a life in need down the road.
We are called to spread the message of God’s love, the message Christ shared with the world, with all peoples everywhere. We are called to share that message in action, in word, and in heart. We are called to care, to love, to share in the lives of all humanity, and to let the world know that God is present and God cares. We can’t choose the recipients of the message. We can only scatter the seeds to all who will listen and hope that one day the words of Christ will breathe life into their hearts once more. We may not get to reap the harvest of our work ourselves. But future generations will. We work not for rewards for ourselves but for the needs of others.
When I would complain to my father about the endless weeding in the garden, and how my friends got allowance for their chores, he would say, “We don’t do chores because we want to get something, but we do them because we are apart a family and everyone contributes and everyone benefits”. We are a part of the family of humanity and all that we do contributes to a better tomorrow for that family.
So remember, when you are feeling discouraged in your work, what Isaiah said as the mouthpiece of God, “So shall my word be that goes forth from my mouth; it shall not return empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and prosper in the thing for which I sent it”. Go forth and scattered the love of God to all people, to all who may be in need, because you never know who might hear the message, take it to heart, and find new life in Christ. The seeds we plant today will give strength, life, and new relationship with God to a new generation of believers, we may not see the fullness of what we have begun today, but the next generation will. So as you prepare for another week, I encourage you to contemplate what seeds you may be planting for the next generation to harvest? How will those seeds will bring forth faith and strength for a new day.
 Robert Louis Stevenson, 19th century.
 Isaiah 55: 11, RSV.
(Based on Isaiah 55: 10-13 and Matthew 13: 1-9, 18-23)