Pentecost 6 (Maria’s Baptism) “We are Plants”
July 12th, 2020 – Isaiah 55:10-11
We are Plants
Think about plants. That is what our Scripture readings for today want us to do. This is what God wants us to do. He wants us to think about plants and how a part of us is like a plant.
Time to pause for a brief English lesson: Do you know what a metaphor is? We had to talk about this in Confirmation Class because the “literary device” of a metaphor is so common in the Bible. Perhaps you have heard of both similes and metaphors? In order to continue in our learning of God’s Word, we need to be clear on what these are. To read the Bible as a child, you first need to learn how to read, right? So let’s take a quick digression to go over something.
A simile is a type of metaphor, and is a comparison using “like” or “as.” For example, Virtual VBS is like an in-person VBS or “Pastor’s sermon this morning is as confusing as a lecture on grammar.” Two things are compared (Virtual VBS and in-person VBS or a sermon and a physics lecture) but they are still obviously not the same, but there is a point of comparison. A metaphor is a direct comparison not using “like” or “as.” For example “VBS is the bomb!” or “This sermon is food for my soul!” The Bible uses these latter direct comparison metaphors a lot. And these metaphors help us learn about spiritual concepts that we normally are not able to grasp. So here we are. End of English lesson and back on to the sermon.
Our spiritual life is like a plant.
Many of us know how plants work. Whether you are a super green-thumb who knows that Latin names of all your plants and can make anything grow or whether every plant you’ve ever had dies within weeks, you know the basics of a plant.
What happens if you never water a plant? Dies.
What happens if you try to “plant” a seed on your concrete driveway? Nothing. (Unless a weed gets in the cracks.)
What happens if a plant is never given light? Just does not grow.
If our spiritual lives are like plants, then what does our spiritual life need to survive?
If our spiritual lives are like plants, then we need a seed planted in good soil (not concrete).
If our spiritual lives are like plants, then we need to be watered.
If our spiritual lives are like plants, then we need light.
We need to learn the metaphor of plants and then apply it to our own spiritual lives to know what God is telling us.
Let us start with the soil. Jesus tells us all about the right kinds of soil and the wrong kinds. So, let us continue the “gardening lesson” as we dive into hearing and learning God’s Word with the metaphor of plants.
Jesus tells us the parable (or a story that is a metaphor) of the sower sowing seeds in various kinds of soil.
“A sower went out to sow.
4And as he sowed, some seeds fell along the path, and the birds came and devoured them.
5Other seeds fell on rocky ground, where they did not have much soil, and immediately they sprang up since they had no depth of soil, 6but when the sun rose they were scorched. And since they had no root, they withered away.
7Other seeds fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked them.
8Other seeds fell on good soil and produced grain, some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty. “
This makes sense to us. We see plants do these things. We can observe these things happening.
What are all these types of soil being compared to? Hear the explanation of the parable.
“When anyone hears the word of the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what has been sown in his heart. This is what was sown along the path.”
If you’re paying close attention, the seed being sowed is compared to the “word of the kingdom” or God’s Word about our sin and His forgiveness in Christ. If your heart is “hard” and the concepts do not “sink in” you do not understand the word and the “seed” of your spiritual life is taken away. Continuing …
“20As for what was sown on rocky ground, this is the one who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy, 21yet he has no root in himself, but endures for a while, and when tribulation or persecution arises on account of the word, immediately he falls away.”
Plants that grow on rocky soil are super easy to pull out of the ground and can easily be washed away. If the “seed” of our spiritual life is in this kind of soil, any problems that arise rip out our spiritual life and it dies…
“22As for what was sown among thorns, this is the one who hears the word, but the cares of the world and the deceitfulness of riches choke the word, and it proves unfruitful.”
How many of us have gone weeding before? Hands up. If you do it, you know you have to keep doing it and some weeds are easier to take care of than others. I was a “weed inspector” for a summer for the rural area out in Alberta. It was my job to look for very “healthy” weeds and to ask various landowners to kill them off. Why would I do this? Certain weeds grow, and spread, to be so strong that they literally will not allow anything else to grow. They can take over fields and prevents crops to grow or outgrow pants that provide food for various types of wildlife. Out here, we’ve got lupines that litter the area, devil’s paintbrush that covers both churches property lawns, ferns that just will not die, and do not even get me started on dandelions… When these things take over an area, they choke out the plants you want to grow. They steal all the nutrients, can take over all the sunshine, and can even suck up the majority of the water starving out the good plant. The “rat race” of the American dream, keeping up with the Jones’ and all the silly things we care about in society, they choke out our fear and love of God and His Word because they oppose it.
“23As for what was sown on good soil, this is the one who hears the word and understands it. He indeed bears fruit and yields, in one case a hundredfold, in another sixty, and in another thirty.”
This one is obvious, if you have good soil, you are likely to have a plant that has beautiful flowers and bears good fruit. I grew up on both a grain farm and a fruit orchard. Take my word for it. This is true.
Here in the church, we try to cultivate and foster good soil among believers. In fact, through His Word, God cultivates this soil among us in our lives.
Since we have welcomed our newest member into the church this morning, Maria, we will use her as our example. Maria has heard God’s Word many times ever since she has been attending church in the womb. That seed of her spiritual life has been sown in her life. Our community that is gathered together by God to be cultivated and cared for by Him has given the seed God has sown in Maria’s life good soil to grow in. With God’s help, her parents, family, and all of us will spend her whole life doing God’s work of keeping her faith strong, alive, and growing.
What is the next component to a healthy plant? Water. Hear the metaphor God says about water.
10“For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven
and do not return there but water the earth,
making it bring forth and sprout,
giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater,
11so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth;
it shall not return to me empty,
but it shall accomplish that which I purpose,
and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it.
We read that God waters us here on earth with His word that comes from His mouth. We are sustained by His word. It is food for our plants (spiritual lives) to be fed, and to those who have never heard the Word, it is the seed that God places into our hearts.
For Maria, she has heard the Word, and today, we have acted on God’s Word which tells us to baptize her in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Her spiritual life has been planted and watered through the rite of baptism where God now calls her His child whom He loves and forgives. This rite is a “fruit” of the spiritual life that we all have alive and growing within us that drives us to have her baptized. God’s Word from heaven has accomplished its task in Maria’s life, through us, calling her to be His own child – and our new sister.
All plants need light. Without the sun that God created and gives to the earth, everything would die.
Without The SON, all of us would die too. Without Jesus, we would have no chance of having a spiritual life that would live on and keep us alive after death. Without Jesus, we have no hope of life just like a plant without the sunshine.
Through Jesus, we have a Word of life and hope that forgives sin, makes us open to His word, gathers us together as the church, and cultivates good soil in each one of us. Through Jesus, we have a seed of hope that is cast into us and that we take and cast into the hearts of others at His command – like little Maria. Through Jesus, we are watered and fed with His sustaining Word.
Through Jesus’s blood, we are forgiven, spiritually alive, are bearing fruit, and we will live on after death.
May the truth found in this metaphor sustain you all in the true faith until life everlasting.
In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.