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The Parable of the Sower

Mark 4:1-20, NRSV
Psalm 126, NRSV


One of the best-kept secrets, and yet one hidden in plain sight, is that the way up is the way down. Or, if you prefer, the way down is the way up. This pattern is obvious in all of nature, from the very change of seasons and substances on this earth, to the six hundred million tons of hydrogen that the sun burns every day to light and warm our earth, and even to the metabolic laws of dieting or fasting.


In Scripture, we see that the wrestling and wounding of Jacob are necessary for Jacob to become Israel, and the death and resurrection of Jesus are necessary to create Christianity. The loss and renewal pattern is so constant and ubiquitous that it should hardly be called a secret at all.


Yet it is still a secret, probably because we do not want to see it. We do not want to embark on a further journey if it feels like going down, especially after we have put so much sound and fury into going up. This is surely the first and primary reason why many people never get to the fullness of their own lives. The supposed achievements of the first half of life have to fall apart and show themselves to be wanting in some way, or we will not move further. Why would we?


Normally a job, fortune, or reputation has to be lost, a death has to be suffered, a house has to be flooded, or a disease has to be endured. The pattern in fact is so clear that one has to work rather hard, or be intellectually lazy, to miss the continual lesson.

— Richard Rohr,
Falling Upward

  • Joshua Bell in Washington Post’s Stop and Hear the Music — people are not hearing
  • Parable makes things less clear

  • The Seed – announcement of gospel, message of Kingdom
  • Seed is small and fragile, incremental

  • Soil
  • Hard soil is like when we hear the message and think it applies to others but not you
  • Life start to choke the poetry out of us

  • Sacrifice
  • After the seed takes root, grows, and bears fruit, it is then given back to the earth. To receive the Word is to take up the likeness of Jesus Christ, who gave himself to the world.

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