Kate was preaching on Jesus' famous "parable of the sower," the farmer who planted seeds recklessly, scattering them everywhere.
Some seeds fall on rocks and never put down deep enough roots to grow.
Some seeds are stolen away even before they have a chance to put down roots: they get eaten up by birds.
Some seeds fall on decent soil and survive being eaten, but they end up among weeds that choke the plant and the plant never bears fruit.
And some seeds fall on decent soil, do survive, and thrive, and bear fruit 30, 60, 100-fold.
In this parable, "the farmer" is God.
The "seeds" are God's word -- God's message.
The various kinds of soil are the varieties of our hearts.
Sometimes our heart is like a rock -- tough, hard, dry, no looseness of soil -- and when God's message falls on our hearts in that state, it can't put down roots. No growth in faith.
Sometimes our hearts are receptive, but God's message is stolen away from our heart before it has a chance to put down roots: it is stolen away by the Evil One, our Adversary, the one who hates Love and hates what you might become if you became more forgiving, joyful, and loving.
Sometimes our hearts are receptive and God's message is not stolen away, but is choked out by other things. As Kate said,
"The seed of the gospel is planted and sprouts just fine, but it faces stiff competition for light and warmth and nutrients from the other plants -- PTO at school, soccer tournaments and piano lessons and... and it's all good stuff, but it sure makes us busy."
But - thanks be to God, here's the good news - sometimes God's message lands when our hearts are receptive, it's not stolen away, is "free of weeds, cleared by the Holy Spirit."
Kate ended her sermon by saying
"The farmer keeps throwing seeds at even the unlikeliest of targets."
In other words, God keeps throwing God's message at you and me, no matter who we are, or where we are in our spiritual journey.
Here are at least three things we have trouble understanding about God:
1. God is not rational.
2. God is not conservative (in the sense of reserved, holding back, cautious).
3. And God is not fair.
1. God is ir-rational, in the sense that God does not color inside the lines we try to draw for him, lines of reason, logic and what's practical or possible. And God is ir-rational in the sense that God does not ration, because...
2. God is liberal (in the sense of generous, extravagant, abundant). God is generous in grace, extravagant in welcome, abundant in love. God doesn't wait for the prodigal son to return, he rushes out to embrace him. And throws him a feast.
And - thanks be to God,
3. God is unfair. God does NOT give us what we deserve...God gives us far more mercy, far more forgiveness, far many more second chances than we deserve. And - try to get this through your head - God gives us third and fourth and fiftieth and millionth chances.
As Kate concluded, "It's not that the farmer doesn't understand the odds. It's just that when we're talking about grace, it's not about the odds.
It's about the persistence of the Holy One who won't stop sowing. Ever."
Live in that truth a while, will you?