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The Rev. Ramona Soto Rank The Rev. Ramona Soto Rank

The Rev. Ramona Soto Rank was associate pastor at Augustana Lutheran Church in Portland, OR, and president of the American Indian and Alaska Native Lutheran Association.

Member of:

Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

Representative of:

Augustana Lutheran Church, Portland, OR


The Seed Within Us

Matthew 13:1-9

July 14, 2002

"And the seed fell on good ground." A seed is a wonderful thing. It is full of life and expectation. In order to fulfill the expectation, certain circumstances need to be present for optimum growth.

There usually needs to be sun, but not always. If there is food to nurture the seed once it has sprouted, it can be magnificent and return a great harvest to the planter. Good soil, cultivated and fertilized, can make a wonderful bed for the seed to take root.

However, sometimes the conditions are not ideal. Sometimes seeds sprout in the most unlikely places. Have you ever been to the coast, the beach, the seashore, or looked over a canyon or been in the desert? These are not ideal conditions for the sprouting of seeds; however, there is still growth and beauty in what we behold.

Today's story from Matthew is the familiar tale of seeds falling on many different kinds of ground-some rocky, some shallow, some in an ideal setting, and other seeds that were feed for the birds. Usually, we hear this story as one that challenges us to be better prepared to receive the seed of the Gospel. We should cultivate ourselves through learning, study, and prayer. This is the ideal. How many of us meet that ideal? Yes, it is a good idea to make time available to read, study, meditate, reflect and pray. However, many of us are unable to make the time we would like to have when we are buffeted by the winds of change in our lives.

We are in a world of increasing unrest. Those of us in the United States were reawakened to this circumstance last fall. We have witnessed a horrendous event with the destruction of the World Trade Center Towers, the Pentagon, and the unknown target of the third airliner, turned missile, on September 11th. We have witnessed an increasing escalation of conflict in the Middle East. There are wars and rumors of war swirling about us.

Each time we turn on the television or the radio we are bombarded with more tragedies -killings by school children, the AIDS epidemic, the homeless, hurting, hungry, and disconnected in our own communities. How are we as faithful people supposed to respond?

God is our sanctuary. God has promised to walk with us, be with us and uplift us in times of trouble. Sometimes God seems so far away. Sometimes it is so difficult to whisper a prayer for encouragement, healing, hope. Sometimes it is easy to lose or bury the seed that is within us.

I want you to remember the seed. Think of the seed as God's word. The seed will fall where it may, but it will never fall in vain.

Picture that tree perched on the edge of a cliff overlooking the ocean. It is bent by ocean winds. It is precarious in its rooting, but it continues to stand. There are trees hanging by threads in cliffs and crevasses throughout the world.

We may be precarious in our own rooting. We may not have the depth of the fine cultivated soil with fertilizer, sun, rain, and other nourishing accouterments.

In order to grow in such adverse conditions, the tree must have great determination and a strong will to survive. Who do you know that is like this tree? Who in your life is determined to have life and grow against tremendous odds?

* Martin Luther King Jr., Rosa Parks, Malcolm X, Ralph Abernathy, the Freedom Riders of the civil rights era, the Pullman porters who formed a union, many nameless people who suffered indignation on a daily basis. All were facing tremendous odds. They were buffeted by violence, fire hoses, fire bombings, redlining by others in their communities.

* Caesar Chavez, migrant workers, Pancho Villa, unknown thousands of Latino people who have fought and died for their dignity and their right to be recognized as human. They have faced tremendous odds.

* Asian railroad workers, farmers, immigrants who helped lay the railroads, build cities and great civilizations in the harsh darkness of oppression, exclusion, and discrimination. They faced a rocky future.

* Indigenous people, the tribal people of the Americas, faced down the holocaust that happened here in their homeland and have survived. Many of these people still do not have optimum places to grow, but they still cling to the promise and they still survive.

* The Arab and Middle Eastern people are held suspect because of their culture and heritage. They are bombarded daily by indignities, racial profiling, and talk show attacks.

This is the history of the world. We all share the mantle of oppression at one time or another. There is always someone or something that wants to destroy us.

The good news of God's love survives in the midst of chaos. The good news of God's love continues unchanging throughout the ages. God's love, the single seed of love that is planted in each of us, is a continued promise.

Plants are the most potent, powerful creations of God. If you don't believe me, I want you to go out and look at the cracks in your sidewalks. What is growing there?

Civilizations have been dismantled. Large structures have come to ruin, only traces of the edifices that humans have built remain intact. What has survived? It is the vegetation, growing through the cracks in the concrete or the marble, or the stone, or the barriers that have been erected.

A seed is a powerful thing indeed.

God's love as a seed may fall when we are not ready, we are not perfect, we are not cultivated. God's seed grows whether we are ready or not. This seed was planted in each of us before we were born, and it is powerful.

We may not have the optimum growing environment. We may have to overcome tremendous barriers. Some of us will struggle mightily in order to grow.

God asks us for a willing heart, a willing soul, a will to listen to the word of Creator God. We are all receptacles waiting for cultivation. It may not happen right away. It may be a long journey. It may be one buffeted by the winds of change, the roar of the ocean, or the brisk winds of the desert.

We have God's promise not to abandon us. God has promised to stand with us in every circumstance. God's promise is to lead us through the wind, the rain, the hail, and the drought and that we will emerge on the other side. We are ready to hang on because we know the promise of God's love for each one of us.

We will bloom. We will produce a good harvest. We will give the gift of hope to others. We will with God's grace.

Please pray with me today.

Creator God, we thank you for this time together. We thank you for this word of hope and health and tenacity, and we ask that you walk with us and be with us and fill us with your spirit. Amen.


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