Text: Matthew 13: 1-9

This morning’s reflection takes the form of a letter to Braden on the day of his baptism … and since it will be a while before he reads it for himself, I’m glad to share it with his baptizing community this morning.

James Bay United Church
Sunday July 16, 2017

Dear Braden,

On a counter in our kitchen at home, for weeks now, there has sat this seed pod that my spiritual director gave me when I spotted it at her place one morning. She had gathered up several of these from her garden last Fall and dried them. Being the creative woman she is, it would be like her to weave it somehow into a work of art. And being the generous woman she is, she gave it to me, seeing how intrigued and wowed I was at the sight of it. When you see it up close, you’ll notice it’s jam packed with a bazillion seeds … beautiful seeds … made for the wind!

Don’t we live in an incredible world?! And this is just one tiny part of a whole universe of wonder. It never fails to amaze me, how it is that from one seed, one tiny seed that grows into one plant, there develops hundreds more seeds. Same with trees … from one tree, bazillions of seeds!! You can see it can’t you … this ridiculous generosity that’s a natural part of life. I think it tells us something about the Creator at the heart of it all … and the Wisdom that’s woven into life.

Anyway, I brought this seed pod home. What would I do with it? I don’t know! But there it sat in our kitchen. Now and again over these months Bev would ask me, “so what’s your plan?” I kept saying, “I’m not sure … but I’d like to keep it just a little longer because I have a hunch that the right time will come, something’s going to happen that calls for it and then we’ll know where it belongs. Well guess what Braden? Today is that time, this day of your baptism, and this wild thing now belongs to YOU!

What’s it got to do with your baptism, you might wonder? Well first of all it has to do with the story from the bible which happens to be the passage that is given to us for today on the day of your baptism … the story Jesus tells about the Sower who went out to sow seed.
In a way, the story goes like we might imagine … seeds flying everywhere … at least that’s what happens when you sow by hand … the wind blows and you never know where seeds will end up.
So it is in this story: some seed fell on well worn trails where it just sits on the surface and before you know it birds swoop down and gobble it up. Other seeds land in rocky ground; not much soil there so it doesn’t take root … and without roots that reach down deep, it can’t take the heat. Other seeds fell among thorns, invasive species, that in no time overshadow and choke out potential growth. And last but not least, other seeds fell on good soil … yeah!!! After all the false starts, don’t you find yourself cheering for these precious seeds … or maybe for the Sower … or maybe for both … after all isn’t it the hope that they’d get to do what they are made to do?

There’s always something wild, an unexpected twist, in the stories Jesus tells. Not being First Century Sowers ourselves, we’re likely to miss what’s wild about this one. Where Jesus was living, in those parts, seeds that would produce 15 times their volume -- you couldn‘t ask for better than that. But in the story he tells … wait a minute! … we’ve got seeds producing 30, 60, 100 times their volume. Something's happening here!
“Let anyone with ears to hear, listen!” Jesus says. Okay … but what are we hearing?!

Well here’s the thing about these stories … here’s the magic: you can hear something different each time you listen to the story. One time it will be this … and another time it will be that. It’s the way the Spirit of God is at work afresh in our lives, speaking to us through these stories … speaking to us right where we happen to be in our lives at any given time. I wonder what you hear?

Here’s what I’m hearing at this given time in my life … on this day of your baptism, Braden. This seed pod has been sitting on my counter for some time … full to overflowing with this huge potential for life, for growth … for blossoming. Huge potential! And so long as I just look at it and wow! over it …so long as I hold onto it, nothing! --not a thing comes of all this life waiting to happen. So what do I hear? “Let go! Quit holding on! … holding in … holding back! Get sowing! Send out what God has given you to release into the world. And don’t judge ahead of time if it’s going to be worth it, for there is abundantly more than enough to come of it than warrants worrying about wastefulness!” So what is it that I’ve I been given to freely share? Well there’s this thing called Faith … which really isn’t a thing at all. It’s this dynamic … it’s these happenings … it’s this ride!
There are so many ways to speak of this faith … but before words ever convey it, it’s our lives that speak. So some day Braden, I’d love to tell you about the ride …the ride I’m on … the ride that keeps unfolding -- those experiences where I’ve been met and moved; the way I’ve been steadied and set free. The way I’ve been given courage in the face of danger; been given words that heal; been given insight that has lifted me out of the pit of despair and re-energized my life, my hope. The times the worst things that have happened to me, the times I’ve been laid low … the way those have been become openings for unimagined strength, for the arrival of a great goodness … they way those things have been the making of me!
It would have been enough, anyone of these things … but there’s this flow of blessing pouring through my life.

Some day I’d love to tell you about the ride I’m on, AND I absolutely want to hear about the ride you’re on … that has already begun … the ways you come to know that you are not alone … but that God is with you and is up to beautiful things in and through you.

In part that’s what we celebrate and confirm today with your baptism: God’s companionship with you, forever and always. The kind of companionship that doesn’t spare you from danger or difficulty … but somehow delivers you through it.  The kind of companionship that invites your trust.  The kind of companionship that may well break you open in all kinds of ways --not to destroy you, NO! but to enable you to be a channel for God’s loving kindness to pour out in places, upon people who hunger for healing, for hope. The kind of companionship that works through ordinary people like you and me to bless in ways far beyond our capacity alone.

What’s this seed pod got to do with your baptism? I think I’m starting to see it! For this day Braden, as we entrust you to the waters of baptism, we are invoking power of the Holy Spirit to be wildly at work in you, that, as a member of the Body of Christ, surrounded by that great host of witnesses past and present who shine with the light of Christ … we are invoking power of the Holy Spirit to be wildly at work in you, that you in all your God-given Braden-ness may be blessed to be a source of abundant blessing.

With my love and prayers for you today, and all the way!
Great Auntie Karen