My friend Charles was ordained as a deacon in the Episcopal church on Saturday. A group of us all decided to caravan out to Topeka to witness his ordination. This also meant sitting through an entire Episcopal church service including a sermon and sacrament and incense and hymn singing and kneeling. I think the last time I sat through an official church service was in 2003 and I didn't know it was going to be a church service. It was supposed to be a funeral, but Southern Baptists will take any opportunity to save your soul. In six months to a year, Charles will be a priest. It will probably be in six weeks, because he's an over achiever. I'm going to know a priest ya'll. A gay married priest! I know the best people.
The Bishop's sermon on this day was the Parable of The Sower. It is a parable I have heard many many time. Often it was told as a cautionary tale. Be careful where (implied who) you sow your seeds. Other times I have heard it told as a ministry tale of go forth and sow seeds all over. Always in these preaching, the seeds have represented your proclamation of Jesus Christ. In other words, just tell everyone about the Son of God and maybe some of them will follow you back to the church. Except the Bishop on Saturday never mentioned this. In his sermon, the seeds were seeds of kindness, compassion and acceptance. In fact at no time during the service was it ever mentioned to be fearful of God or all the many ways I was going to Hell, but it was this different interpretation of such a familiar parable the hit me the hardest.
I woke up the next morning to the tragic news of the mass shooting in Orlando and my heart cracked open. I thought about that group of boys that I sometimes hang out with around the fire pit in Terry's backyard and how it could have so easily been one of them inside that nightclub and my heart grew chilly with fear. As I turned off the news and tuned out the noise, I thought about interpretation of scripture and how we so often get it wrong. For years that simple parable of a farmer spreading out his seeds of wheat was partially about being careless and stubborn. But what if those seeds were seeds of kindness, seeds of compassion and acceptance? Sure it might seem like a waste to sprinkle seeds in the rocks, but we've all seen that plants are tenacious, growing up through cracks in sidewalks.
What kind of seeds am I sowing? I want to believe I am sowing those good kind of seeds, but I have my doubts. I have a low tolerance for ignorance. I have a low tolerance for those who take the first thing they see on the internet as truth without questioning it. I have a low tolerance those who support hateful, racist speech. Those are my rocky areas. If I were the praying type, this would be my prayer today: May all the words, thoughts and love sent to those families dealing with the aftermath of this horrific event give them strength to remain standing through these difficult days. May I sow seeds of kindness, compassion and acceptance even in the rockiest of places. May my actions encourage others to also sow seeds of kindness, compassion and acceptance, even in the rockiest of places.
So say we all. And thank you to the force.