It's summer and we've begun to go outside, take our vacations, lounge with friends, and enjoy a slightly slower pace of life. We can dictate so much more of what happens, how it happens, and when it happens. Everybody wants to be out and about, soaking in the sun and re-connecting with people.
Church attendance dips like crazy during this time of year. This isn't a bad statistic necessarily on its own. People go on vacations with their families or attend weekend weddings, hopefully attending another Sunday services in far-flung locations. Churches generally recognize that and either ramp up programmed activities like crazy with kids camps and all-church picnics to keep families close by or ramp down and let people operate at a slower pace, allowing them to organically connect with others. There's no right or wrong way for a church to respond to this season.
From a pastoral perspective, our concern isn't whether we provide a ton of options or not enough options for your family to stay connected during the summer. What we care about is that this is the time of year people go into spiritual drought. The extra free time usually turns us inward, focused on our own personal development, our own recreation, our own kingdoms. It's easy to avoid taking the time to do the hard work of caring for the soil of our hearts, cultivating our spiritual lives, and allowing the Word of God to take root in our hearts. Our spiritual disciplines easily get cast aside for beach trips and barbecues.
When something takes root, it doesn't come out easy. It doesn't get ignored but will always sprout and flower again. God's Word does exactly that but only if the soil is prepared, packed, and watered properly and regularly. Summertime is actually an ideal time to do that. You can take the Word with you anywhere and spend time thinking, praying, and memorizing it. On your long drives to your vacation destinations, getting a tan on the beach, sitting out on the porch on a cool summer night. It's work, sure, but the fruit it bears is wonderful. Take the time in this season to care for your soul by caring for your heart's soil and planting the Word in it.
One other note about this passage to point out. When it comes to sharing the Word with others and talking to them about Jesus, this passage is a real encouragement. Note that the sower doesn't pick and choose where he sows but is promiscuous in sowing seed. He throws it on all surfaces. While this isn't the main point and purpose of the parable, I find it interesting that Jesus doesn't show the sower to be a careful planner. In fact, many people would accuse this sower of being wasteful and unwise. It's a reminder however that our God shows no favoritism and wants His gospel to made known among all, regardless of where they are, what they are, and in what condition they happen to be in. Our call to evangelize is not limited to those that are "prepared" or "ready" or "ripe". We are to proclaim the Good News of Christ to anyone and everyone. The burden for whether the seed takes root in the lives of those who hear is not ours to bear but God's and theirs. As you have opportunity to live life alongside your family, friends, neighbors, and even strangers, may you sow the seed of the Word no matter who you come cross!