Struggling with the B-minor chord at the start of Psalm 65 last Sunday, I was painfully aware of the congregation poised with missalettes, waiting for me to begin. As a non-barring guitarist, B-minor has always challenged me, even as it’s gotten a bit easier. If I’d just changed it, or transposed or something…
No one sang on the first response, and I figured it was because I had sounded so tentative. No one sang on any of the responses.
Had my poor B minor thrown them that badly? Were they even paying attention to the beautiful words: “You have crowned the year with your bounty, and your paths overflow with a rich harvest.”
The lector read the Second Reading. “If the Spirit of the one who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you…” Were my loved ones who no longer go to church going to have life in their mortal bodies through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit? Good question, but not the reading that went with my psalm.
When I sat down after the Gospel reading to listen to Father’s homily, he began with the words, “Frances, you sang the psalm for next week, not for today.”
It had been a busy, and challenging, week and I’d been trying to plan ahead—too far ahead, apparently. At least there would be minimal preparation for this Sunday’s music, when the Gospel actually would be about the sower who went out to sow the seed.
During the week I took another look at the psalm, transposed it to make that beginning smoother. I practiced the words so as to make them flow meaningfully, linking the two readings with their message.
Living in today’s drought-prone, warming world, the lines: “God’s watercourses are filled; you have prepared the grain,’ reminded me of the way God has provided extra water in this year of dwindling reservoirs in the West. I pictured fields “garmented with flocks” and valleys “blanketed with grain.”
But after listening to today’s Gospel reading, as the psalm refrain wormed through my memory, I wondered about the seed that must fall on good ground: where will God’s word find the rich soil Jesus speaks of where it can bear fruit and yield “a hundred or sixty or thirtyfold?” I hoped we in today’s assembly were good ground where God’s word could grow; but what about out there, in society, where it often seems that God’s word has been snuffed out by the thorns. Out there are so many who once heard the word, but had no depth for it to put down roots; so many who didn’t understand the word, and had it snatched away by the evil one.
Where do we fit into the preparation of God’s harvest? The fields have had to be prepared, the seed sown. Are we to get out and do the tilling? The watering? The sowing?
In the Gospel, Jesus calls us to be soil, which feels like too passive a role.
But factoring in the First Reading from Isaiah 55, we hear, “So shall my word be that goes forth from my mouth; my word shall not return to me void, but shall do my will, achieving the end for which I sent it.” My word shall not return to me void. This dynamic sowing does not depend on us. God’s word will achieve God’s end.
The psalm tells us that God “has prepared the land, drenching its furrows, breaking up its clods…” That part too has been done, I remind my Self, all too ready to take rake and hoe into the community.
No, our part is to hold that flower flourishing on our good ground where God’s word has grown. Our part is to let those seeds, like those of milkweed, fly out into the world in a sparkling cloud, borne on the wind of the Spirit, to find God’s furrows and take root there. Our part is to be God’s good ground, where God’s see can take root.
Our sending song today was, "Take the Word of God with You as You Go," by Chris Walker. We carry the seed to where it can grow and flourish in the soil of our lives and that of others around us.