Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Pre-sermon reflection and experience and confession

Matthew 13:1-9,18-23

So, the parable is about the sower who goes out and scatters the seed everywhere; some seed falls on the path, on rocky soil, in the weeds, and some falls in good soil and grows and flourishes. Producing 100 fold, some sixty, some thirty.

Mostly I have heard this story and wondered what kind of soil am I --?

But yesterday, Monday, Joel and I went out for coffee and a sandwich. We met and talked with a very interesting young man; he was dressed in strange balloon type knickers, zorries (flip-flops), a t-shirt with the collar-edge removed, and a hat which was stuffed full of what was, hopefully, hair. He was an artist, he said, who was now working out of a garage in the neighborhood. But before he worked anywhere, he had to live in the place for a while, pick up on its wind, watch the sun and shadows and how they moved in this place. And most importantly, he had to talk with the rocks, to find out what kind of place it really was. Rocks were living things which spoke of the place.

These are James River Rocks, at the Falls, not far from downtown Richmond.

As he was talking, my mind was leaping from point to counterpoint. Yes, no, yes, yes. He said, that after he got to know the rocks, he would get to work on his art. Right now, he was working in clay, trying to imitate the rocks, but leave his sculpture hollow so that the local life could come reside in his creation. He was trying to make hollow rock sculptures in which life could dwell.

What was entering my mind was the Christian story --I was saying, yes, yes, life in rocks--eternal life from the womb of hollowed out rock. But I said nothing of my thoughts. But, again, I understood, strangely, what he was saying. Resonating image art.

Then this morning, I am so filled with self-doubt. I have been so trained to listen. I didn't want to be seen as a Christian, preaching, trying to convert someone in a coffee house.

But in light of this Gospel, the good news is that a sower went out and threw seed everywhere, withheld nothing, in every nook and cranny, pathway, among the rocks, on the garage roof, in the driveway... the good news is not what kind of soil we are....

The good news is that the seed is cast indiscriminantly, abundantly. Everywhere. And indeed, I have seen mighty things grow where one would think nothing could take root.

I am tempted to go back for another cuppa, and see if my hollowed-rock friend wants to know where his story took me....and thank him for his gift of conversion--of me. You can see his work: http://www.davidbrucestudios.com/

The Collect

O Lord, mercifully receive the prayers of your people who call upon you, and grant that they may know and understand what things they ought to do, and also may have grace and power faithfully to accomplish them; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.


Ruth Hull Chatlien said...

That's a beautiful collect and fits so perfectly with the story.

I know so well that prickly doubt: Should I have said something? Should I have done something?

We don't always know, do we? But I think perhaps that unless you actually felt the spirit's prompting and refused it, you can accept the moment for what it was and move on. Maybe what your hollow-rock friend most needed yesterday was for someone to see him as an interesting human being and not some sort of weirdo. That in itself can be a true gift of the spirit. And if you're meant to meet him again, I'm sure God knows how to arrange it.

Grandmère Mimi said...

Margaret, it's good that you listened. Perhaps your conversion was in what God had in mind all the time.

I'm with you in being one of God's shy ones when it comes to sharing the Good News in casual conversation. That door has to really open for me to venture in. However, your words on the parable of the sower have caused me to think. I don't know what the end result of my thinking will be. Perhaps I'll be as shy as ever in the future, but perhaps not.

FranIAm said...

Those seeds were flang all over the place, were they not?

What a post this is Margaret. I am trying to find the words.

You did listen and you did respond in some way... and the way you connected the rocks.

If I might be so bold, maybe you needed to -am I going to use the E WORD? - evangelize yourself today too.

It does happen, doesn't it? (when it happens to me i usually run...)

That wacky and mysterious God, fling fling fling all over the place.

Thank you for this Margaret.

Padre Mickey said...

I thought only those of us who grew up in Nippon call those zori! I know you're from Berkeley (I was born in Oakland, so we's neighbors, but now I consider Berkeley my home town). Where did you learn the correct name for such footwear?

it's margaret said...

Hi Padre--

I didn't know them by any other name until I came to the "right" coast!

So! From Oakland!! Which neighborhood? I grew up off Claremont Ave --by Ashby. We are neighbors! --

And yes Fran --the conversion was mine! Thanks be to God!

Grandmere --that cartoon I posted about says all I think about those who try to convert strangers!

Ruth --that's the collect for this coming Sunday. It does fit perfectly doesn't it!