This week’s gospel reading from Matthew is the parable of the sower and the seeds.  An on the nose interpretation of the first verse, of course, is to plant a seed in good soil.  This seems so obvious… why would a farmer ever plant a seed in poor soil?  We even have a song in our hymnal with the verse, “Lord, let my heart be good soil.”  It all makes sense, but this Bible verse goes on to push the explanation of the parable.  The interpretation is really about the word of the kingdom and people (from Lutheran Study Bible).

So, I read this passage to our youth missionaries and asked for their interpretations of this parable in the context of their mission trip with the Appalachian Service Project (ASP) in Kentucky.  Their responses were insightful and a promise of hope.

Avery and Sammie shared the importance of looking deeper into situations and context unlike the sower, sowing on rocky ground, who comes in with gusto and joy, but then quickly falls away when discouraged or frustrated.  Instead, it is more important to put your all into sowing the seeds. 

Evan shared that ASP is like the sun, the counties we serve like the seeds, everyone working (the community churches, volunteers, families) are the roots.  All are intent on making better soil for the seeds.

Braedon shared how mining literally depleted the soil in the area and the ramifications of that economic loss are still being felt today.  He further shared that we are here to help rebuild soil through our compassion.

Zach was concerned about the randomness of the farmer tossing the seeds.  To him it seemed unfair when considering how burdens and circumstances seem to affect some more than others. 

And finally, Tyler, the ASP coordinator, shared the beautiful culture of the people of Appalachia and in particular the people who have burdens that seem to weigh down so heavily. Those who humbly ask for help even when it means they have to step out of their own comfort zone.  Tyler explained how their own roots are deep and more importantly wide in creating connections.    

Ah ha!  There’s our word for the summer, “connections”.  This week our youth missionaries set out to serve others, but unbeknownst to them, they, too, are being served by a people who ask to connect and create good soil together. 

Bethany Gola