text: Matt 13:1-9, 18-23; Romans 8:1-11 title: rooted

I often wonder what you are thinking as I read scripture. You should really take the opportunity to read as a liturgist sometime. I love having the opportunity to gaze out from the pulpit see each face as scripture is read.

Your faces tell long stories about your week or even your morning. Some faces fight distraction or embarrassment; some faces hide secrets and intrigue. Every once in a while I will catch someone with a mischievous grin or a thoughtful expression.

But there are times when the faces seem blank and lost. These are faces that have been there or done that; they have heard this scripture lesson before. They remember it from Sunday School or Vacation Bible School and it seems like the minds that realize this begin to take a bit of a vacation.

After all, if the story hasn’t changed, what’s the use in mentally sticking around, right? I mean, if we are just going read the same stuff over and over again, then we can mentally check out and check back in when things get interesting again.

So, sometimes I let my curiosity get the best of me and I wonder where you might go when you have heard the story before. I want to delve into the expressions that your eyes communicate and swim in the experiences that are called up by scripture. Even more fascinating to me is not just the places you go, but how you get there, not the destination but the journey…

The way I see it, there are two ways that we are rooted into this world. The first is being rooted in our personhood, this means that we know who we are. The second way we are rooted is by what we know, this means that we know whose we are.

To be rooted means: being grounded enough to grow where we are planted. It means knowing the person that God created us to be and living a life that is as congruent as possible with that knowledge. Finally, being rooted means living in and amongst good soil that is conducive to growth.

When I was younger, I could always tell when the weekends came around because that was when we would have TV dinners at least one night. Usually, it was when my parents would go out for a date. Kris, my brother, and I would get to pick from the small assortment of “Hungry Man” dinners and then pop them in the oven.

I can’t remember how long it took for them to cook, but a short while later we were eating a meal consisting of a burnt brownie, dried out corn, some sort of pressed meat patty, and mashed potatoes with the consistency of baby food.

As the years progressed, and technology advanced, the time shorted for meal preparation. Microwaves came into fashion, and I remember being amazed at how little time it took to prepare the same meal consisting of a burnt brownie, dried out corn, some sort of processed meat patty, and mashed potatoes with the consistency of baby food.

But that didn’t stop me from eating them. They were quick, easy, and cheap and in my world that was good enough. Until I got a crock-pot.

I still remember my first one, my mother gave it to me when I moved out on my own for the first time. I remember being afraid to plug it in and leave it running all day. I was afraid my house would catch fire or the meal would dry out or be over cooked.

It was a funny thing, that little one person crock-pot. I would fill it with a small roast, a few flavorful things I enjoyed, and plug it in and walk away. When I returned home, I would have a fully cooked meal that fell apart when my fork touched it. The juices would seal and simmer and I would take what was left behind and turn it into gravy. Those nights, I feasted and savored what the crock-pot created.

Being rooted means taking whatever time necessary, however long the journey may be, to know who we are and who God created us to be.

I miss good transparent theological, biblical, or church oriented conversations. You might not think it, but the church is usually not the place where these conversations take place.

I am not talking about business type conversations, but more of the depth-full, open, playful, searching kinds of conversations. The type where you learn as much as you teach; where you dream about the possibilities of God, hope for the things that might be, and deal with the way things are.

I have had a few conversations like this here at Southminster, maybe five in the two years I have been here. And I will dare say that that is far higher than the average for most pastors and their congregations.

Regardless it makes me wonder why so few congregations eschew conversations of great depth and import, not just between pastors and congregations, but between each one of you as well.

I am certain that we all have our reasons for not participating, initiating, or requesting more of these depth-full dialogues. Maybe it’s the time. Maybe it’s being embarrassed about not knowing enough. Maybe we’ve had a bad experience in the past with these kinds of conversations.

Whatever the excuse, I miss having a group in the church to talk with about my struggles, hopes, celebrations, and fears when it comes to God, faith, and this world. The thing is I think the church as a whole misses these kinds of conversations as well.

Because being rooted means that we not only know who we are, but whose we are, we know the stories and experiences of God’s faithfulness, we accept and talk about the mysterious nature of God’s activity in the world.

There was a recent article in the Christian Century that talked about the trends of educational practices in the churches; the only denominations that continually failed to educate their congregation members were mainline denominations, or to put it simply, us.

Southminster has an active Sunday School program, of which about 25% of the total membership participates fairly regularly. The Wednesday night program brings in some great speakers that most people don’t even know about. Maybe 10% of the congregation takes part in that ministry. We have an active Presbyterian Women’s group. A small Presbyterian Men’s group. But for the most part, most people are content with two hours on Sunday morning, no more but a little less is just fine.

What statement to the world, to the community, to our youth and children do we make when education, dialogue, and conversation do not regularly happen on a depth-full level? There seems to be a great fear of committing to rooting ourselves in the communities of faith where we have been planted.

Our parable today is about growing in good soil. But even soil, like plants must be cultivated, must be cared for and tended so that the optimal conditions for growth are present. In good soil, roots grow deep. It is the place where seeds are planted, are nourished, are cared for and painstakingly tended so that growth above and below ground is strong and solid.

The good soil provides nutrients for life, it holds water and air, it is loose enough so that roots can stretch and grow without constraint.

The good soil is good conversation and dialogue. It is concern and care for the growth and well-being of one another.

The good soil is making a meal in a crock-pot, allowing our lives to simmer together as our flavors mingle together and blend into a savory meal.

The good soil is being rooted in the knowledge of God’s love for us and clamoring to find out more.

The good soil allows us live by the desires of the spirit rather than the desires of the flesh.

As I wrote this I could hear my excuses rumbling about in my head already: I’m too busy; faith is a personal thing; I already know enough; I don’t like to share personal stories with strangers; I wouldn’t know what to say; learning about the church is boring. This is my list of excuses for not taking advantage of the good soil around me, what are yours?

I like to look out over the congregation when I read and preach, because I like to see your faces. I wonder what goes on behind your eyes, what stories they would tell me if you would only let them speak.

When I see your faces, anxious, tired, excited, I see a seed searching for good soil. I can feel the yearning for something more from life, from relationships, from the church, from God. The question I have is this: are you willing to tend and prepare the soil for new seeds?

Each of you has been planted in this particular field. How will you care for the soil, how will you choose to grow, how will you choose to help others grow?



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