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Life in Every Direction
July 16, 2023, 2:00 AM

Seventh Sunday after Pentecost

We can identify death in every direction. We see war, hunger, addiction, poverty, a dying planet, and broken hearts. This is not a new story. The children of Israel surely saw death in every direction, wandering in the desert and at least occasionally wondering about their next meal. Paul looks at his own life and, at first, sees nothing beyond spiritual death. He reminds us that death is not just physical, but also spiritual. Then, in the parable of the sower, three-fourths of the seeds die and three-fourths of the sections of the field are inhospitable to flourishing life. Sometimes, life isn’t even given a chance. We might look at the world and ourselves and only see the places that are absent and inhospitable to God’s love.

Today’s texts all go a step further, however, to articulate or reveal God bringing forth life where there is only death and God’s absence in every direction. First, God renews the covenant with the children of Israel. After their own failures and disobedience, God restores a relationship with the children of Israel and gives them “the best of all the land in Egypt” (Gen. 45:20) and “provisions for the journey” (Gen. 45:21). Paul reflects on God growing new branches where old tree branches had fallen away. The parable of the sower elicits reflection, repentance, and, ultimately, new life from its readers and hearers in considering the sort of spiritual life they practice. Are we hospitable or inhospitable to God’s word? This parable is a vivid reminder of all God has overcome—rocks, scorching sun, thorns, and snatching—to bring life to the world. God brings forth life in places where people see only death.