Sunday, July 13, 2008

Seeds of Faith and Seeds of Doubt

This morning I preached on Matthew 13:1-9, 18-23, the parable of the sower. I have to admit that when I saw that this passage was the Gospel text for this week in the lectionary, I almost skipped it. I have heard this parable preached on so often that I thought I understood all there was to know about it and there was nothing new to say. Then I stumbled onto an article about this passage by one of my professors in graduate school--Luke Timothy Johnson. Luke is a very good man and a top-notch scholar, so I am always eager to hear his thoughts, because there are always fresh and provocative in all the right ways. In his commentary on this passage, he expressed his own doubts about God transforming the world in the face of war, greed, famine, genocide, etc. In his view, this text challenges our cynical understanding of the world and ourselves, because it asks us to believe that God really is in the process of bringing forth a bumper crop of justice, grace and compassion.

In his article, Johnson also wrote about Romans 8:18-25 where Paul speaks about the whole of creation groaning in anticipation of God's transformative power--the power to set right all that has gone wrong in the world. I decided to have that read this morning, but I did not get to it in my sermon. Johnson's article is worth a read, because he articulates the difficulty of believing in God's work of grace, while at the same time presents well the hope these texts present.

Grace and Peace,


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