We Are Dirt!

Matthew 13:1-9, 18-23 I'm always struck by reading this parable how tempting it is to turn it into a "go and do likewise" message. We're the sower, throwing seeds around. But in this case, perhaps most clearly, Jesus explains the parable to his disciples.

We're not the sower - the sower isn't even described, but almost every parable has a character (usually the one "in control") who stands in for God. We're not even the seed. That's the word of the kingdom, or perhaps even Christ himself. We're the dirt. We're dirt! How does that sit with you?

When I was in Chicago, I adopted a burial ritual from a friend of mine. He would take soil and salt, mixed together in a chalice, and pour it out over the burial spot. And as he did, he would describe the meaning of this odd practice: the soil reminds us of Genesis, where God takes soil to form man and woman in God's image. The salt reminds us of the Sermon on the Mount, where Jesus tells his followers, "You are the salt of the earth." And the placement of these in the chalice is a reminder of our shared communion with Christ and with all the saints.

I've participated in two funerals this week, so this ritual has been on my mind. And how harsh it sounds to be told that we are dirt; but in the context of the community of faith, it is a blessing to be reminded of that, that it is God's touch and molding which makes us holy and prepares us to receive what it is that Christ has to offer us.

So what kind of soil are you? Just remember this: the sower sows extravagantly!