Saturday Sermon: Rooted in good soil
By the Rev. Herb Beyer
In the gospel of Matthew, we hear Jesus saying ". as for what is sown on good soil, this is the one who hears the word and understands it, who indeed bears fruit and yields, in one case a hundred fold, in another sixty, and in another thirty."
For the last few years, my wife and I have planted seeds in our garden. After analysis of the soil, we put the right amount of fertilizer, add appropriate mulch, and water. Of course, the rain that God gives provides the best growth. Slowly, we see the seeds emerge from the ground as tiny plants.
The roots grow down and spread through the good earth. And with each day, they grow and grow and grow. The corn grew tall, 6 or 7 feet. The shrub-like plants produced beans and peas, tomatoes, peppers and different kinds of melons. But the abundance of good things takes being rooted in good soil.
Jesus uses this analogy to address the need for us to be rooted. As one friend put it, "We are planted in God's good garden." And he understood that to mean that as a believer, we are rooted in the Word, rooted in the life of the Church, and rooted in Jesus.
We know about being rooted as in being rooted in American soil as citizens. The Fourth of July observance earlier in the month reminds us of our roots, our connection with the history of this nation, its ideals, hopes and dreams for life and liberty.
My wife and I attended the Round Top Fourth of July gathering, with its annual parade, the oldest such celebration west of the Mississippi River - 161 years. Several thousand attended. The gathering point is known for its German heritage, something that many in the area can relate to because of the German influence.
The patriotic spirit was heard as the crowd recited the Pledge of Alliance and sang the "National Anthem," and then, we there were other songs played by a band that has done so for some 40 years at this celebration rooted in the community. Religious roots were apparent in the prayer offered by a local pastor.
When we gather for such celebrations, family reunions or as the Church, we remember or discover the roots and connections we have in terms of blood, marriage, friendship, culture, faith and history. The roots go deep like that of our native pecan trees, but also spread far like a giant oak.
As I meet with couples preparing for marriage, one of the messages I convey is the importance of being rooted in the Word and the life and fellowship of faith. It is important for the long-term health and well-being of such relationships to be rooted, to get connected, and stay connected to God's Word, to the Church, to Jesus. It is such roots and connections that enable us to withstand the storms, struggles and adversity we face in life.
In our age, we find families and friends spread not only across the nation, but even the globe. This poses challenges to being rooted or connected. Some will try through technology, but that has its limitations. I believe that it is the Word of God, the fellowship of the Church, and Jesus Christ our Lord that provide us with the best and most healthy, strong roots and connections no matter where we find ourselves. It is there in the life of the Church that the Word is proclaimed and Jesus with all His love and grace are experienced. It is in the community of Church that you find people who will help us when we struggle with decisions; who will encourage us when we face doubts; who will remind us to turn things over to God, instead of giving in to worries, fears and anxieties; and among whom we will experience God's love and grace.
The Rev. Herb Beyer is pastor of Tri-County Cooperative Ministries, ELCA.