Sermon of Archbishop Dietrich Brauer on the 8th of February 2015
Jesus tells a large crowd the parable of the Sower. God is the Sower sowing the seed of the Word. These seeds fall on different types of human soil. Some people are like those seeds planted by the road. The devil comes and takes the word away from them. Others have a stony soil. So the Word cannot grow roots in them. When trial comes they fall away. Those whose soil is overgrown with thorns do grow sprouts, but fuss and temptations overcome the sprouts and there is no fruit. Good human soil keeps the Word of God and brings fruit.
It is difficult to say if different groups of people are meant here, or, maybe, the soil in every person has many layers. Maybe in each of us there is also light-mindedness, or superficiality, and we are prone to influences from outside all the time? Maybe we are sometimes rough and cold, stubborn and egoistic, so that the Word of God cannot find a live answer in us? Maybe we are partly open for God, but do not fully trust Him because our lives are so complicated and ambiguous?
Probably each of us goes through some stages of life during which we feel drought or thorns inside ourselves, or are missing the ground and have lost our roots.
In any case the goal of the parable is not so much to divide people into categories but to warn us about soillessness and draw our attention to the joy of a fruitful life. For ultimately bad soil ruins life, and that is its main evil. And good soil gives life and brings fruit for its continuation. Thus those hearing the Word of God are receiving Life itself. This means that this Word contains great power.
Words are all around us. We do not know often whom to believe. In the movie "Leviathan" by Andrei Zvyagintsev one of the characters says he believes in facts. But all those facts are crushed by evil, and with them the belief in them. What do we call a fact anyway? Everyone proclaims their own facts and their own truth.
The latest confirmation of this before our own eyes are the events that led to the crisis of trust between Russia and the Ukraine, and then between Russia and the Western world. Each side extensively proves that it is right, referring to its own facts and proofs. And all these words turn out to be false and dead. For they are unable to do anything but dividing and hardening hearts further. But people need the Word that brings peace, that will be above all insults and interests. The Word that is able to heal and to give life. The Word from above. But it has to be heard - and then, to be spread.
Many words are spoken in the Church on earth and in its name. Words about God, about values and commandments. But frequently the Church is in danger to erect some spiritual wall against the world. To screen it off. With its words the Church sometimes creates a comfortable pious space apart from the world. This is how it deceives itself. For thus it builds a cloud-castle, and in the world it becomes just a subculture with all typical attributes, including the verbal ones.
The Church is receiving and spreading the Word of God. This is its main commission. Does it always fulfil this commission? Sometimes the Church itself becomes like a fruitless soil where the Word of God does not survive but turns into a dead letter. This happens every time the Church forgets Whose word it is, trying to make it its own. Sometimes the Church uses the Word of God to strengthen its own power and authority. But the main task of the Church is to preach the Word of God in such a way that it is sown into the human soul, so that the Spirit of God can reach the person's heart.
The Church should not reign but serve people and live by Christ. The Bride should never forget about her Bridegroom, in order not to become a widow.
It is not by chance that the Word is compared to a seed. Not only persuasion and rhetoric are necessary. There must be sprouts and fruit. The Word creates life. As there is a huge force of life inherent in a tiny grain, so the power of life is given to us in the Word of God.
The Parable of the Sower is primarily about trusting the Word of God. The incarnate Word of God, the Logos of God, is Christ Himself.
We are enslaved by words uttered by politicians and leaders, propagandists and mass media, subcultures and representatives of elites. However, the course of time itself will silence all these voices. But the Word of God - Christ - remains eternally. His saving truth is stronger than human lies and sins. The Word of God is comforting even at the moment - especially at the moment - when we are weak and helpless. Christ is our Saviour and the Lord of His Church.
The Church or a single believer are alive and strong not by themselves but only in Christ. As long as the Word of God sounds in the Church, it is the Church of Christ. The Word - Christ - gives us life.
Our own Lutheran Church in Russia is a testimony to the truth and viability of the Word of God. How many times in its history was it condemned to exile and destruction by a human word? How many times a human word humiliated and cursed it? How many times the word of a human being tried to silence the Word of God? But the opposite happened. It was heard among people whose only hope was Christ. It shone with the light of truth among lies and darkness. It gave peace and life among death, it grew in spite of everything on the most lifeless soil.
That same Word of God is calling us today into the Cathedral of St. Peter and Paul to entrust ourselves to it again. To look into the future with hope under any kind of circumstances, because the Word of God is alive and active. We really have no way of knowing in whom and at what moment the Word of God will sprout, and when it will bring visible fruit. We have been given the blessed commission to proclaim it, to testify by our lives to its truth and to entrust the worries about sprouts and fruit to God in prayer!