Today's Gospel passage has been utilized by a number of people as justification for "keeping people out" of a church community. "Obviously, that seed came from rocky soil, or grew up amongst the thorns." "That person doesn't belong here.....look how that individual was raised!"
Those kind of exclusionary sentiments drawn from this Gospel passage (and others) is an inaccurate and misguided understanding of this parable Jesus tells. The parable is not about excluding, or being fatalistic about one's course in life. The parable instead should be read as one of hope. For Jesus isn't saying those seeds are thrown by God at birth, but any time we hear the word of God, anytime we open our hearts to these words that can save us, change us. This is the opportunity for us to be a true part of this kingdom Jesus' life and ministry proclaims.
We have these "Seasons" of the church year.....every year. We are given an opportunity, each year during THIS season of Lent to repent and to return. That doesn't sound like rejection to me, but a regular reminder that we are all human and not only deserving of another chance, but always offered another opportunity to grow into God's love for us....grow into our potential to be that Christ-bearer for another on the journey.
This is for everyone, this message of love and hope Jesus brings. This message is offered over and over again to us, not just one time. We all have times of being among the thorns, or in rocky soil. That does not relegate us away from God's kingdom for all time. We are always welcome.
Copyright 2010, The Rev. John F. Dwyer. All Rights Reserved.