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Pastor Kristi Bummer
Have you ever looked at a grain of wheat? Real Montana wheat country is north and east of Missoula. Yet there are a few brave farmers who will plant a few acres of it around here. This time of year we decorate with wheat and sunflowers as we welcome fall and get ready for winter. We are busy in November with celebrating church holidays and getting ready for the new year…..both the churches and our calendar year. But take time to think about a couple of wheat stories…….the little red hen, who went out and planted just enough grain to produce a harvest, much to the dismay and ridicule of her fellow chickens. She worked and watered, then harvested and milled, baking a loaf of bread which she shared with her chicks. Compare her story with the one of the sower in Matthew 13:1-23 and Luke 8:4-8. He went out and scattered seed. A great parable for describing the kingdom of God. Do you see any obvious differences? Have you ever thought of these two stories as illustrations of stewardship.
The little red hen worked hard to provide for her family. While the others in the coop lazed and gawked, she was tirelessly tending her small field. She monitored; she watered; she weeded; she cut and harvested. Then she produced a beautiful loaf of bread whose aroma filled the coop and tantalized all around. I can see neat rows of evenly spaced budding wheat. She was orderly and methodical. She was disciplined and determined. She fed her family.
Our sower on the other hand was not so organized or methodical. He scattered seed. It fell where it landed – on rocky soil, on good soil, on the road and in the weeds. Any farmer today would be scandalized by this method of planting. The computers in the tractors accurately measure out and keep track of the grain, spacing it evenly as the seeder moves through the field. Depending on the field conditions, some areas receive more seed to ensure yield. Yet the sower just spread seed! We do not even know if it was his field, or if he went around throwing seed out just because. It is one of the many details that are not provided in the story. We know that the grain sprouted and grew. We also know because of the places where the seed landed it did not always mature so the heads could bud.
We need to give that hen credit, she worked hard, and it paid off. It was her doing and her right to do with the product as she wished. She gave it to her family, and the others were left with their mouths watering and their stomachs empty. The sower on the other hand was lavish. Extravagant, seemingly without forethought, he just put that seed out and let it land. He did not hold back; he did not take credit. He just put out that seed with no holds barred. He gifted it to the earth without conditions or expectations.
When we realize we are called to be stewards by God for the earth and all that is in it, we realize that all we have is a gift. God has blessed us generously and provided for our every need. We confess this in the first article of the creed (Luther’s Small Catechism) every Sunday when we say, “I believe in God who created heaven and earth.” We acknowledge this when we pray the Lord’s Prayer asking for God to provide our daily bread (Luther’s Small Catechism). Our very life and personhood is a gift from God. We are not independent and not self-made. We are who we are because God in God’s great goodness created us to be who we are, and all that we have belongs to God. Christian stewardship means that we live differently. We live in a trust relationship with God, living out principles God teaches and modeled through Jesus. We tithe (literally giving back to God 10 percent of our income) to be used for God’s ministry and purpose. We tithe because we trust God to not forsake us. We tithe because it is a spiritual exercise and discipline. We tithe because we remember and live in the shadow of God’s own extravagant grace in the gift of Jesus on the cross. We tithe because, when we commit ourselves in relationship with God, we realize that all that we are and have is really God’s to begin with. We tithe because as we pray “your kingdom come” we realize it is not about us as individuals, rather it is about the body of Christ loving and taking care of God’s creation and world. Not living independently but interdependently, in community with one another.
— Pastor Kristi