Do we lose that sense of wonder as we grow older, do you think? Do we stop learning that new life is always possible - that it will break out extraordinarily by God's good grace, and a little human care? Do we fail to realise that we too are not destined to be boring brown beans in boring jam jars, imprisoned in dirt? The good news - our Gospel message - is indeed that we too are called to sprout, reach out and flourish in the light. Moreover, this morning, what a better way do we have to express that than in our prayers and blessing for Clara, as she sprouts into the authentic light of who she is, in God's grace, as a transgender person?...
I have to say that we are not always helped by our Gospel text today (Matthew 13.1-9 & 18-23) and many approaches to it. For we can easily get bogged down in the details of the allegorical explanation of Jesus' parable of the sower which is offered in the second part of today's Gospel reading. Now it is quite possible that that explanation was not originally given by Jesus themself. It may have been added as Jesus' followers tried to make sense of the parable. Whatever the case, it may have value, but it can easily distract. For we can be tempted to think too much about the seeds and where they find themselves, rather as the small child I was thought too much about the bean and where it found itself. In that sense, the allegorical explanation in the Gospel text can misdirect us. For it is not so much the seed that matters but the sower and the growth. It is not the unassuming brown beans we feel we may be that matters, but the grace that lies around us and our bountiful potential. It is not what we are now that matters, but what we may become.
Too much of our lives, and church life, is taken up with obsessing about keeping our brown beans from growing. We can so easily obsess about the limitations of circumstances, as if they were simply boring jam jars. We can feel we are trapped in dirt and can never flourish in the light. But that is a lie. Jesus told that story to direct us to God, the sower, not to the seeds, the beans. Jesus wanted us to look at the sower, at their amazing generosity and the wondrous growth they bring by that generosity. Jesus wanted us to open our eyes to the potential of love.
Too many people are sadly obsessed with keeping people in their place, limiting them to being boring brown beans, trapping them in jam jars, and burying them in soil from which they cannot escape. Unfortunately some of those people even do that to themselves. What I have learned, as a transgender person, and from other gender diverse people, and many others, is that, if we remain open to wonder then we can trust there will be growth. We can sprout and flower. We can reach up and out into the light. We can find greater love and life for us all, even eternal life and love. God is the sower and she/he/they are extraordinarily generous and trustworthy. We might feel like boring brown beans in jam jars, but the Sower has other plans. Together, we can become so much more than we are - a hundred fold, a thousand fold more, as Jesus says. Clara, our friend, is such a beautiful sign of this everlasting truth. May she, and all of us, therefore continue sprouting, flowering, and growing, in the love and grace of our bountiful God. Amen.
Jo Inkpin for Sunday 12 July, Pentecost 6 Year A.