What is the Parable of the Sower? Bible Meaning & Commentary

OPENING SENTENCE
Your decrees are my inheritance for ever. O Lord how I love your law.

HYMN

GREETING

Grace and peace to you from God our Father

and the Lord Jesus Christ. Amen

COLLECT FOR PURITY

Almighty God

to whom all hearts be open

all desires known

and from whom no secrets are hidden;

Cleanse the thoughts of our hearts

by the inspiration of your Holy Spirit,

that we may perfectly love you

and worthily magnify your holy name

through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Amen.

SUMMARY OF THE LAW

Our Lord Jesus Christ said: The first commandment is this: “Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God is the only Lord. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind and with all your strength.”

The second is this: “Love your neighbour as yourself.” There is no other commandment greater than these. Amen. Lord, have mercy.

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CONFESSION

God is love and we are God’s children.

There is no room for fear in love.

We love because God loved us first.

Let us confess our sins in penitence and faith.

God our Father, we confess to you

and to our fellow members in the Body of Christ

that we have sinned in thought, word and deed,

and in what we have failed to do.

We are truly sorry.

Forgive us our sins,

and deliver us from the power of evil,

for the sake of your Son who died for us, Jesus Christ, our Lord.

ABSOLUTION

May the God of love and power

forgive you and free you from your sins,

heal and strengthen you by his Spirit

and raise you to new life in Christ our Lord. Amen.

GLORIA
sung by Sue Turner

COLLECT

O God,

whose providence orders all things in heaven and earth;

keep from us everything harmful,

and lead us to all that is good:

through Jesus Christ, our Lord,

who lives and reigns with you,

in the unity of the Holy Spirit,

one God, world without end. Amen

FIRST READING
Genesis 25: 19-34 read by Mark Toner

The Birth and Youth of Esau and Jacob

These are the descendants of Isaac, Abraham’s son: Abraham was the father of Isaac, and Isaac was forty years old when he married Rebekah, daughter of Bethuel the Aramean of Paddan-aram, sister of Laban the Aramean. Isaac prayed to the Lord for his wife because she was barren, and the Lord granted his prayer, and his wife Rebekah conceived. The children struggled together within her, and she said, “If it is to be this way, why do I live?” So she went to inquire of the Lord. And the Lord said to her,

“Two nations are in your womb,
    and two peoples born of you shall be divided;
the one shall be stronger than the other;
    the elder shall serve the younger.”

When her time to give birth was at hand, there were twins in her womb. The first came out red, all his body like a hairy mantle, so they named him Esau. Afterward his brother came out, with his hand gripping Esau’s heel, so he was named Jacob. Isaac was sixty years old when she bore them.

When the boys grew up, Esau was a skilful hunter, a man of the field, while Jacob was a quiet man, living in tents. Isaac loved Esau because he was fond of game, but Rebekah loved Jacob.

Esau Sells His Birthright

Genesis 25:19-34; 26 – Kelsey Messner

Once when Jacob was cooking a stew, Esau came in from the field, and he was famished. Esau said to Jacob, “Let me eat some of that red stuff, for I am famished!” (Therefore he was called Edom.) Jacob said, “First sell me your birthright.” Esau said, “I am about to die; of what use is a birthright to me?” Jacob said, “Swear to me first.” So he swore to him and sold his birthright to Jacob. Then Jacob gave Esau bread and lentil stew, and he ate and drank and rose and went his way. Thus, Esau despised his birthright.

Are You Trading Your Birthright for This? Jacob and Esau

SECOND READING
Romans 8:1-11 read by Peter Boreham

Life in the Spirit

Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death. For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do: by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and to deal with sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, so that the just requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. To set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. For this reason, the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God’s law—indeed, it cannot, and those who are in the flesh cannot please God.

1903.) Romans 8:1-17 | DWELLING in the Word

But you are not in the flesh; you are in the Spirit, since the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him. But if Christ is in you, then the body is dead because of sin, but the Spirit is life because of righteousness. If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will give life to your mortal bodies also through his Spirit that dwells in you.

HYMN

GOSPEL READING
Matthew 13:1-9, 8-23 read by Rev Steven Ballard

Hear the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ according to St Matthew chapter 13 beginning at verse 1

Glory to Christ our Saviour.

The Parable of the Sower

That same day Jesus went out of the house and sat beside the sea. Such great crowds gathered around him that he got into a boat and sat there, while the whole crowd stood on the beach. And he told them many things in parables, saying: “Listen! A sower went out to sow. And as he sowed, some seeds fell on a path, and the birds came and ate them up. Other seeds fell on rocky ground, where they did not have much soil, and they sprang up quickly, since they had no depth of soil. But when the sun rose, they were scorched, and since they had no root, they withered away. Other seeds fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked them. Other seeds fell on good soil and brought forth grain, some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty. If you have ears, hear!”

The Parable of the Sower - Preachers Corner

The Parable of the Sower Explained

“Hear, then, the parable of the sower. When anyone hears the word of the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what is sown in the heart; this is what was sown on the path. As for what was sown on rocky ground, this is the one who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy, yet such a person has no root but endures only for a while, and when trouble or persecution arises on account of the word, that person immediately falls away. As for what was sown among thorns, this is the one who hears the word, but the cares of this age and the lure of wealth choke the word, and it yields nothing. But as for what was sown on good soil, this is the one who hears the word and understands it, who indeed bears fruit and yields in one case a hundredfold, in another sixty, and in another thirty.”

Give thanks to the Lord for his glorious gospel

Praise to Christ our Lord

SERMON

MAMMA MIA! The Global Smash Hit

Mamma Mia is an exhilarating smash-hit musical based on songs recorded by the Swedish group Abba, but it is also an Italian term used in moments of surprise or shock meaning ‘oh my goodness’. Certainly, in the film there were many Mamma Mia moments, and in today’s gospel story there are also some Mamma Mia moments. Did Jesus really scatter seed in such a wasteful or liberally generous manner? Did Jesus really expect to reap a bumper harvest from rocky ground? How could Jesus seriously expect seed to grow in amongst weeds and thorns? Mamma Mia!

Certainly, in the story, the farmer broadcasts the seeds liberally and so some of the seeds fell along the path- rocky ground. The soil along the path is inhospitable. Farmers try to cultivate it but it’s impossible. That is where they back and turn the oxen that pull the cumbersome plough. There is no way the ground here can be ploughed or harrowed. Even so, the farmer in Jesus’ story takes the risk of sowing precious seed right there, fully aware that he might be wasting two thirds of his seed.

Stony Heart Posters for Sale | Fine Art America

Jesus is candid here about the prolific waste of effort which sharing the good news of God’s kingdom will often seem to be. As he speaks, he looks out at that vast crowd, who are streaming to hear him. Many would be tempted, I’m sure, to label these casual adherents as converts. After all, the mere fact they were coming to Jesus from their homes, surely indicates some kind of spiritual response, doesn’t it. But Jesus is not so easily convinced. No, he says, this is a very mixed multitude I see. Some of these people who have come to hear me are quite obviously hardened against my Word. They have stony hearts, and that stoniness or hardness may come from intellectual pride. He doesn’t seriously expect me to believe that, does he? Or from moral obstinacy: ‘there is no way I’m going to stop doing that, just because he says so.’ Or from self-righteousness: Me, a sinner? How dare he? Or it may be simply the hardening of bored indifference: ‘guess this just isn’t my scene. I’m into yoga, you see. Though they come to hear his word, it bounced off them like water off a duck’s back. Their hearts were coated in spiritual Teflon, so nothing stuck. The word gets gobbled up by the desires of the world, before it even has a chance to settle.

Stream Shallow Heart by Ether Morning | Listen online for free on SoundCloud

Others in the crowd represent only a superficial decision, an in initial enthusiasm that doesn’t last. The seed has fallen on the shallow heart. Their response to the word is pure emotion, the kind of animal excitement that you get from being part of a big crowd, or the kind of warm fuzzies, that you get from watching a sentimental movie. They receive the word with joy, Jesus says, but the circumstances then change, the adrenalin subsides, the intoxication of the moment fades. Perhaps they begin to feel cheated. They told me Christianity made you feel happy. Well, I don’t! They told me Christianity would give me friends. Well I haven’t really! It must have been adolescent phase I went through, just a flash in the pan. I’m not going to be a Christian any longer. They have no root. They believe for a while but in the time of test they fall away. The spiritual five- minute wonders- they go through all the baptismal or confirmation classes-and then six months later they’re nowhere to be seen.

Strangled Gifts & Merchandise for Sale | Redbubble

There are still others who turn out to be distracted disciples. Again, there is an enthusiastic initial response. But unlike the case of the superficial decision, these people do not seem to renege in their commitment to Jesus altogether. They retain some kind of Christian identity. They don’t fall away in that sense. But as time goes on Jesus becomes less and less significant in their lives. The seed has fallen on the straggled heart. The bindweed of materialism and worldliness saps all those early hopes of spirituality.

In youth, perhaps it is educational goals, sporting achievement or sexual attraction, that’s responsible for the diversion of interest. In mid-life it’s financial stress, family responsibilities, or career ambition. In old age it’s pre-occupation with health, the garden or grandchildren. Whatever stage we are at in life, there are dozens of distractions. ‘As they go on their way, they are choked says Jesus by life’s worries, riches and pleasures.’ And the result is that they do not mature. They call themselves Christian but it’s just a church- going habit, not a vital personal faith.

A Surrendered Heart — Laurel Oak Christian Church

Finally, the seed fell on good soil. The seed fell on the surrendered heart. This is the hopeful and joyful heart. This is the heart that is most like the heart of God. This is the seed that fell on good soil, where it put down deep roots, found nourishment and produced a harvest. So, there are people who hear the word, understand it, and then act on it. Their lives are enriched by it. God’s word may be risked in unlikely places, but it will not be an empty word, it will bear fruit.

Fruit bearing is the whole point of agriculture. There is the temptation to blame the lack of a harvest on the farmer who sows the seed. But in the parable, you will notice that the success or failure of the seed of the Word does not depend on the farmer or his technique. On the contrary the seed is sown in what seems an artless, almost wasteful way that demands no skill at all. It’s just scattered. For it is not the function of the farmer to change one soil into another. It is rather says, Jesus, the function of the seed to highlight the intrinsic fertility or infertility of the soil. It is the quality of the soil, not the expertise of the farmer that determines the harvest.

The harvest depends on us- so what is the state of the soil of our hearts? Are our hearts stony, shallow, straggled or surrendered? Maybe we are a combination of soils- part of us is surrendered but weeds are growing and spreading into the good soil and we need to weed and cleanse that area. We need to make sure that our soil is good. For only in the good soil can God’s word take root and grow, bringing about transformation in us. God’s seed yields in our life hope, purpose, meaning and peace. In all of life’s joys and sorrows it is God’s word that sustains and strengthens us.

This Week's Theme: Harvest - Velvet Ashes

Today God’s seed is struggling to find good soil. There are all sorts of alternative seeds that absorb people’s attention in Scotland. There are seeds of excitement in illegal drugs and in excessive alcohol drinking. There are seeds of frustration and anger at missed holidays thanks to strikes at airports. There are seeds of worry and despair as people lose jobs or houses because of rising costs in the UK. There are seeds of insecurity and fear as the streets become dangerous with stabbings and killings. There are seeds of loneliness and isolation as finance restraints prohibit social life and entertainment. There are seeds of hunger and thirst as people try all sorts of routes in the search of peace and contentment.

The Traquair maze - Traquair House

It’s like being in a maze. Mazes look so easy until you get inside- then you end up standing still puzzled. There is a high hedge to your right another to your left, and then there is a high hedge in front of you. The grass is flattened down in this small space- clearly lots of people had been here before you. You are thoroughly lost. It looks easy but of course the people who design them, lure you in, encouraging you to make decisions about your direction which will then lead you into a series of dead ends. You then need to find two things- one where you are and two a map that will guide you out. This parable of Jesus is a bit like a maze designed to challenge listeners to work out for themselves how to get to the heart of things. But sometimes the hearers got lost and so Jesus then provided a map so that they could see where they were. The point of the map is first to help people see where they ought to be. As with most mazes there are several ways of going wrong but only one way of going right. Jesus has already seen, in the responses of many people to his announcement of God’s kingdom, that there are certain common reactions which all lead to dead ends; but he knows that there is one reaction which will lead to the person becoming his true disciple.

In the maze of life, with voices screaming at us to do this and that, how well can we read our internal map? God is generous in sowing the seed in unlikely places- hoping and longing for growth. What is surprising is the way Jesus never gives up on sowing his seed in us despite our frequent attention to the seeds and distractions of the world. Jesus continually reaches out in love to us because we truly matter and are precious to him. Jesus longs that we will have surrendered hearts, open to loving him with all our heart, mind, soul, and strength. Amen.

Christ The Savior Lutheran Church

NICENE CREED

We believe in one God, the Father, the Almighty maker of heaven and earth,

of all that is, seen and unseen.

We believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ,

the only Son of God,

eternally begotten of the Father,

God from God, Light from Light,

true God from true God,

begotten, not made,

of one substance with the Father.

Through him all things were made.

For us and for our salvation

he came down from heaven;

by the power of the Holy Spirit

he became incarnate of the Virgin Mary,

and was made man.

For our sake he was crucified under Pontius Pilate;

he suffered death and was buried.

On the third day he rose again

in accordance with the Scriptures;

he ascended into heaven

and is seated at the right hand of the Father.

He will come again in glory

to judge the living and the dead,

and his kingdom will have no end.

We believe in the Holy Spirit,

the Lord, the giver of life,

who proceeds from the Father.

With the Father and the Son,

he is worshipped and glorified.

He has spoken through the Prophets.

We believe in one holy catholic and apostolic Church.

We acknowledge one baptism

for the forgiveness of sins.

We look for the resurrection of the dead,

and the life of the world to come. Amen.

Praying Moms – LRPC HOME

Knowing that our loving God

supplies all our needs

let us pray to him now

on behalf of the church and the world.

Loving and caring God

your word is life and strength.

The Importance of Having A Receptive Heart | Time of Prayer No.35 - YouTube

God of truth and wisdom,

may your words of life and hope

take root in our hearts.

Grant us hearts that are receptive to your word

and hearts that are surrendered to your will.

May we take seriously our responsibility,

to encourage and nurture one another in faith

at every age and stage in life.

Loving and caring God

your word is life and strength.

God of light and hope

may every act of selfless giving

and every search for the truth

be richly blessed and rewarded.

Disturb assumptions and lead us

to ponder more deeply the spiritual dimension of our lives.

May the word of God

reach all who are ready to receive it

and let us set no boundaries

as to who they might be.

Loving and caring God

your word is life and strength.

Billy Sunday - Home is the place we love best and grumble...

God of love and gentleness

make our homes

places of love and growth,

welcoming to all who visit

accepting and forgiving of all

who are nurtured there.

Help us to work through disagreements and heartaches

and grant us the grace at all times

to respect and honour one another.

Loving and caring God

your word is life and strength.

God of healing and kindness

may all who are weak in body, mind or spirit

know the comforting and strengthening power

of your healing touch and companionship.

Help us to be more ready

to support and befriend one another

through the difficult times

in the name of the love of God we worship.

Loving and caring God

your word is life and strength.

God of new life and joy,

we give you thanks for children,

for their sense of wonder and vitality,

for all the fun and laughter they bring.

We pray for all our young children

as they enjoy these summer holidays,

may these days be special and quality family times.

Kids Summer Holiday Ideas | Avery

Loving and caring God

your word is life and strength.

God of peace and grace

we pray for harmony where there is discord

we think of countries torn apart by internal conflict

and ask that a new and lasting peace may be established.

In this week in July we pray for peaceful marches

in Northern Ireland and for respect for one another.

In Ukraine and Sudan we pray for the end of the war

and for medical resources

to be made available

and for help to come

to the people there

suffering from injury.

Help us to play our part in the recovery

of these war -torn countries.

International Day of Peace 2022: Theme, history, significance and all you  need to know - India Today

Loving and caring God

your word is life and strength.

God of hope and life.

fills us with gratitude for all we have,

and help us to count our blessings

and give you, our praise.

5,902 Blessings Photos - Free & Royalty-Free Stock Photos from Dreamstime

Merciful Father accept these prayers for the sake of your Son,

our Saviour Jesus Christ who taught us to pray together

Our Father in heaven,

hallowed be your name,

your kingdom come,

your will be done,

on earth as in heaven.

Give us today our daily bread.

Forgive us our sins

as we forgive those

who sin against us.

Do not bring us to the time of trial

but deliver us from evil.

For the kingdom, the power and the glory are yours, now and for ever. Amen.

HYMN

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BLESSING

The peace of God,

which passes all understanding,

keep your hearts and minds in the knowledge and love of God,

and of his Son, Jesus Christ, our Lord:

and the blessing of God the Father,

the Son and Holy Spirit,

be among you and remain with you always. Amen

DISMISSAL

Go or stay in peace to love and serve the Lord.

In the name of Christ.

Welcome

St John the Evangelist, Dumfries, is a parish of the Scottish Episcopal Church also serving Methodist parishioners locally.

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Notices

Contemporary Service

Contemporary Service

The Contemporary Service is at 6pm, on the second and fourth Sundays of the month, followed by refreshments in the hall.

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St John's Church

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Everyone is very welcome to come along to Choral Evensong for Lent, this coming Sunday 3rd March, 6pm, at St John’s Church, Newall Terrace, Dumfries DG1 1LW, sung by the

St John's Church

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Everyone is very welcome to come along to Choral Evensong for Lent, this coming Sunday 3rd March, 6pm, at St John's Church, Newall Terrace, Dumfries DG1 1LW, sung by the

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Sunday 25th February 2024 is our Eucharistic Service at 11:00am! You are most welcome to come along to our service. Be great to see you! Contemporary service is on Sunday

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Booking is necessary to attend the Pamper Session on Thursday 14th March starting at 3.45pm until 6pm, in St John’s Church Hall, Lovers’ Walk, Dumfries, DG1 1LW. For more information