Planting Christ in everyone and everything we meet. . .
In the appointed Gospel for this week, Jesus allegorizes the seeds that the sower so lavishly and indiscriminately broadcasts about the ground. He says those seeds represent the Word of God. I think sometimes we miss the power and the import of the word Word as it is used in the ancient languages of the Bible.
Logos is the Greek word, and it literally means the vision of God, the very essence of who God really is. John’s Gospel tells us that this same vision, this same essential God, was fully realized and embodied in Jesus.
If you take the time to think about it, St. John really untied our hands when it comes to what we must or must not say about Jesus in order to be an orthodox Christian. For many of us, this won’t mean a whole lot or be of particular use in our spiritual life, but for some it will be liberating. It will allow Jesus to have so much more meaning for them, and now we can sit in church next to those people and enter into the mystery of Christ together, and not have it be some kind of a holy contradiction that we tolerate for an hour because, well, we can tolerate anything for an hour.
If you stop and think about it, using Logos theology allows Christ to have significant meaning for almost anyone of any religion, even skeptics and people with serious doubts… that is the ones who want something they can hold on to in the religious world. Why? Because they can understand how someone can embody the essence of God without all the trappings and layers of dogmatic formulations from which the real Jesus has to be painstakingly unearthed.
It doesn’t mean they will all become Episcopalians as a result of this understanding, but they can become Jesus-appreciating, Jesus-loving people, which allows all of us to move a step closer together, and there is nothing more that God wants than that!
I think some of us see the sower sowing the seed of the word of God as something similar to throwing pixie dust upon the heads of people who don’t get it. It’s kind of like an old-fashioned way of text messaging everybody with the message: BTW: Jesus is Lord, and then hoping at least 20 percent of those receiving the message will be curious enough to ask for more.
In the meantime, we who feel we have sprouted on good ground all too often feel a superiority that shows through and is, quite frankly, a turn-off to many. Don’t take my word for it, just ask your lapsed Christian friends.
If Jesus is the WORD of God, then Jesus isn’t the sower in the parable of the same name. God is actually the sower, and the image here is that from creation forward, God has been broadcasting the Christ into every corner of the world. Notice that the various types of ground in the metaphor didn’t ask to receive the seed; it was just put there whether they desired it, deserved it, or not. Notice also that the seed was spread by the method known as broadcasting; it was not planted in pre-selected neat little rows. . . one punch at a time.
God has made sure that the whole world is Christed.
What this means is that there really are no such places as purely profane or heathen territories where Christ doesn’t exist. It means our mission is not to bring Christ to people where Christ doesn’t reside because there are no such places, but to help people to discover ways to see what the Christ that might be hiding in the very soil where they walk has done for them; to help them find the Christedness in each other.
Wow, that is a mission strategy that I think would work. Nobody likes to be told, I have something you don’t have. I know I rebel against that. It’s the main reason I stopped going to Amway meetings years ago.
But if we say, You know, we are certain that the Christ is everywhere, even here where you live, but Christ won’t force himself on you, or appear to you in the form of a ghost in the night. Christ will just wait for you to find him in the cool cup of water given to a little one, or the sacrifice of a friend, or even in the painful watching of a loved one dying surrounded by friends, that is a strategy that can work.
A young woman lost her husband in an auto accident. She was sitting in the waiting room of the E.R. embraced by a friend while she wept.
The woman eventually looked up at the head chaplain who had his hand on her shoulder while saying nothing, and she asked, Where is God in all this? To which he replied, She’s right there with her arms around you.
People can understand and will embrace that kind of God, that kind of Word. That is the kind of seed that they will want to broadcast to the world. God really has Christed the world.
This helps me to understand why Jesus says, The Kingdom of God is right here.And yet, the kingdom is not yet fully realized because we so often fail to lift the rocks and find the buds sprouting beneath them.
Finally I feel the need to end by reminding you that the Word God sews is not exactly Emily Post. . . It can be very difficult at times to follow, so difficult that I sometimes wonder why I don’t get at least one E-mail every Sunday afternoon from someone saying, I quit!
Jesus was a preacher from the wrong side of town. He may as well have worn silver choke chains or had tattoos covering every visible part of his body. You know the type; the type many of us would not include in our social circle.
But this is the Word that God chose to plant all around you.
There will always be someone who makes us uncomfortable.
The next time you use the word they, in any context, you just have to remember that THEY are the Christ. Christ has been broadcasted into every single soul.
You probably remember Ghandi’s famous line: If you don’t meet God in the very next person you meet, you may as well not look any further.
To elaborate, Barbara Brown Taylor looking back on her long life as an Episcopal Priest once wrote:
Encountering God in other people is what saves my life now. I do not look for angels anymore, although I have nothing against them. But the clerk at the grocery store is messenger enough for me, at least if I give her a fraction of the attention that I lavish on my interior monologue.
God is the sower, and God has Christed the world, and God doesn’t make mistakes!