June 5, 2016 – University Baptist Church
Sabbatical Interim Pastor Anita Hill
Sowing and Reaping
Scripture has a lot to say about sowing and reaping. Farmers plant seeds and gather the harvest. When Scripture says you will reap what you sow it means you will live with the results of your actions.
Sowing and reaping is one of the simplest, yet most ignored concepts of life. Anything we put our time, energy, money, or focus on is an act of sowing. Reaping is the results or consequences of what we’ve sown. The ramification of our reaping depends on the amount of effort and time we put into the sowing. The Bible gives very clear teaching on this reality that can influence our eternal rewards.
Let’s take a look at some of the Bible verses about sowing and reaping:
2 Corinthians 9:6 The point is this: whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully.
God pours out blessings on the faithful generous believers that are far more expansive than just money. God blesses and fills with joy and peace those who live with generosity.
The music programs here at UBC reflect this. This community sows music beautifully and reaps beautifully. It’s a delight to have begun with your Shape Note Sunday, present for the Missa Gaia Service and to have experienced your bell choir and choral music in May.
Galatians 6:8 Those who live to please the Spirit will harvest everlasting life from the Spirit. And Psalm 95 read this morning calls us to Sing to our Maker; Let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our Salvation!
Yesterday, Janelle and I had the special blessing of hearing David and Kathleen Tice in concert with Giving Voice – a chorus of 90 people gathered together because their lives are touched by Alzheimer’s. Joy filled the audience filling the auditorium in Edina as well as the singers on stage. Voices melded together, everyone was included, and who could tell the difference between caregivers, volunteers, and loved ones with varying degrees of memory loss. Joy was sown and joy was reaped. I wish everyone could hear Giving Voice.
Proverbs 11:18 A wicked person earns deceptive wages, but the one who sows righteousness reaps a sure reward.
What are deceptive wages in our day? How many hundreds or thousands more per day must a CEO make for their pay to be deceptive?
Doing the right thing doesn’t always make us look good or feel appreciated. Sometimes doing the righteous thing will make other people hate us. Our choice is about God—His glory and honor is evident in our right decisions. There’s reward in this lifetime and the next when we press ourselves to sow righteousness.
Psalm 126:5 says: Those who sow with tears with reap with songs of joy.
Many times we experience grief on this earth whether due to tragedies, disappointments, illness, loss of employment, or other losses. Yet for those who put their trust in God, there can still be peace and joy in the midst of it—not because we don’t hurt, but because God is with us. God becomes our refuge and hope to get through the difficult days.
Proverbs 11:25 A generous person will prosper; whoever refreshes others will be refreshed.
I’m thinking of the woman at the well – a Samaritan, a Gentile, one to whom no Jewish man could speak or acknowledge. She generously offered water to a Jew. Jesus saw her, spoke with her, told her about tapping into living water. He told her everything about her life. With those life-changing things sown in her life, this woman at the well began to witness about Jesus to the whole town. Many people came to see this Holy Man. She harvested. She reaped what Jesus had sown.
Judith Gundry-Volf says: "This triumph is portrayed as coming about through a Gentile woman's bold and persuasive insistence that God's mercy is not doled out along ethnic, gender, or socio-cultural lines." [Judith Gundry-Volf, Theology Today, 1995]
That’s the message I’ve heard about University Baptist Church for years. You’ve been ahead of the times. You’ve expanded welcome. You are theologically expansive and persuasive in insisting the God’s mercy is not spread thinly, but lavishly reaches beyond the boundaries we human beings continue to devise.
John 4:31-38 Here at UBC the sayings hold true: One sows and another reaps. Others have labored, and you have entered their labor.
What are you sowing today?
It’s not a matter if you think you are sowing or not. Your life is one big field waiting for the right seeds to be planted. It’s best to take some time to do an inventory of your life.
It’s also important for the community here at UBC at this time in history to take an inventory of your life, of your witness, of the many things you have sown and are continuing to sow. Your legacy is being sown now, just as a hundred years ago, UBC’s legacy was being sown by the people who built this building to the glory of God on some of the most valuable property in the University area. You have reaped the harvest of the planting of good people long ago.
David Hollinger, University of California historian, wrote a book titled: After Cloven Tongues of Fire: Protestant Liberalism in Modern American History. He argues that ecumenical mainline protestantism has won a broad cultural victory. Liberals, he maintains, may have lost Protestantism, but they won the country, establishing ecumenicalism, cosmopolitanism, and tolerance as the dominant American creed. [From NY Times article by JENNIFER SCHUESSLER JULY 23, 2013]
Such liberalism continues to be part of the legacy sown by University Baptist Church. Your resolve to stand with LGBT people started with a small seed of determination and has brought hope and possibility to many who need to hear of your welcoming embrace as American Baptists on this corner of Dinkytown.
Consider as you head into today’s Annual Meeting what the reports in your booklet say about what is being sown today. Consider the vision you see there for the future and generations yet to come to harvest.
UBC’s commitments to Social Justice are broad. “From the beginning, UBC has been made up of people committed to justice, first ending slavery, then gaining women's suffrage, ensuring intellectual and academic freedom--in the 1920s, the freedom to teach the theory of evolution, civil rights, human rights, peace and nonviolence, environmental justice, and equal rights for our gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender brothers and sisters. For many of us, working for the reign of God on earth is a spiritual act, a form of worship and of prayer.” [UBC Website http://www.ubcmn.org/justice]
The list of ministry partners on UBC’s website is impressive: To name a few from an expansive list of more than 30 Partner Organizations.
American Baptist Churches, USA and the Rochester/Genesee Region of New York State
Interfaith Campus Coalition of 8 Faith groups – respecting diversity and religious pluralism
Soulforce and the Association of Welcoming and Affirming Baptists – receiving LGBT people in your congregational life and ministry
Baptist Peace Fellowship and The Fellowship of Reconciliation
Restorative Justice Community Action reducing crime and repeat offenders to strengthen and build community
Ministries of Sharing Health and Hope in Nicaragua
You share this building with many organizations and movements including: The Wesley Foundation, The Episcopal Parish of the Holy Trinity and St. Anskar, Sacred Harp Singers, and the National Alliance on Mental Illness.
Please come to the potluck and annual meeting. Following worship this morning. Your involvement and your financial support of UBC continue sowing harvests yet to come: Harvests of faith, justice, community, and civil engagement. Your open hearts, open hands, open doors, and open pocketbooks are hallmarks of harvests for which you labor and are yet to come. I thank God for UBC.
God sends us forth for the sowing of good, for planting seeds of community and wisdom, to care for the poor and to foster justice making wherever we are.
Christ sends us out to speak words of hope and to heal human hurts today.
The Spirit fills us with potential and accompanies us as disciples.
Know that God loves us and has called us to be a blessing.
Go in peace. Amen