God’s gifts — of the earth and of the spirit — are sown widely, generously, unexpectedly. In the Parable of the Sower, that we are exploring all this month, the seeds of God’s Word are sown far and wide. Why doesn’t the sower in the story just sow in good soil? Why does he throw seed on the path — on ground too tough surely for anything to take root? Seed left to the mercy of the birds.
Because sometimes a rose can burst out of a split in the concrete (as Tupac Shakur observed in his poem ‘The Rose That Grew from Concrete’).
If you throw fifty seeds at a patch of unloved concrete, every day for years, who knows when — when the sun shines, and rain forms rivulets and space burgeons — something might burst forth.
I think we make a mistake when we split off the ‘spiritual gifts’ that Paul discusses in today’s reading and hold them as separate from the giftedness of reality — from God’s creation itself. Everything is connected. The God who gives us wisdom, knowledge, discernment, miracles — is the God who gives us rain, and wild honey, and a hand to hold when we are running out of things to cling to. Both types of gifts are given widely, generously, and unexpectedly.
As climate scientists remind us — there’s only one planet Earth. Just the one. We share one home. A place that is spiritual and miraculous and earthy and mundane. Gobsmackingly beautiful and mindnumbingly terrifying. Now, perhaps more than ever, we need to appreciate the spiritual gifts that Paul described as being for “the common good” as earthy things with earthly purpose. And we need to see the gifts of the earth as spiritual things with a spiritual purpose — all part of the same common good. We need to work together to use our God given gifts of insight to guard the good gifts of the earth. And we can take inspiration from a sower who sows against the odds.
Thank you for grain and for wisdom
for fruit and knowledge,
for honey and faith
for herbs and healing,
for beans and miracles,
for nuts and prophecy
for roots and discernment
for the gift of interpretation
and the roses that can split concrete.
1 Now concerning spiritual gifts, brothers and sisters, I do not want you to be uninformed. 2 You know that when you were pagans, you were enticed and led astray to idols that could not speak. 3 Therefore I want you to understand that no one speaking by the Spirit of God ever says ‘Let Jesus be cursed!’ and no one can say ‘Jesus is Lord’ except by the Holy Spirit.
4 Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; 5 and there are varieties of services, but the same Lord; 6 and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who activates all of them in everyone. 7 To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. 8 To one is given through the Spirit the utterance of wisdom, and to another the utterance of knowledge according to the same Spirit, 9 to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit, 10 to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another the discernment of spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues. 11 All these are activated by one and the same Spirit, who allots to each one individually just as the Spirit chooses.