100 Acts of Generosity

IMG_0217100 Acts of Generosity

Mark 4:1-20

September 27, 2015

Metrics seem to be everything these days…

We want to be able to measure everything –

not only business results,

but personal results.

Hey, if I’m going to work out,

I want to know exactly how many steps I walked,

How fast and how far I went,

And especially how many calories I burned.

And so I wear my fitbit

To keep track of the metrics,

To watch my  numbers.

What’s really cool is

That you can graph all this data,

Comparing it week by week,

And even compete with friends!

It’s all about metrics these days.

It’s all about measuring (and then trying to figure out if we’ve measured up!)

A sower went out to sow some seed…

And he didn’t measure it at all.

He took some and tossed it here,

And some and tossed it there.

He wasn’t really paying attention,

So some of course landed on the path…right where he was walking.

It had been trampled on so much the ground was hard…

The seed didn’t even get under it.

The birds came and ate it up.

Zero percent growth.

The sower tossed some more,

And this seed landed on the kind of soil which was common in the Middle-East.

Just a thin layer of topsoil with limestone rock underneath.

No roots could get into the rock.

Zero percent growth.

The sower continued to toss seed

And some fell on thorns –

It got all caught up in the brambles and never grew.

Once again zero percent growth.

But the sower didn’t seem to care,

And didn’t give up.

He threw some seed which landed on good soil…

And it grew 30, 60, and even one hundredfold…

So I had a question this week…

Is this a good farmer?

Wouldn’t a good farmer know exactly where to throw the seed?

Wouldn’t a farmer who knew what he was doing,

who really paid attention to the metrics,

be more like that former hedge fund manager we

heard about this week..?

He  knew exactly which drug to buy so that he could get the most profit.

He had it all figured out ahead of time.

He wasn’t wasting any seed.

You probably heard the story…

This guy bought the sole rights to a drug which treats Toxoplasmosis,

A parasitic infection,

Which most of us would get over on our own,

But can be life-threatening in people who are immune compromised from diseases like AIDS and cancer.

He became the sole owner of this medicine,

then promptly raised its price tag 4000%!

That’s some metric!

That’s some graph to compete with – it goes straight up!

Jesus lets us know it’s not really about the metrics is it?

It’s not about doing the research and finding the perfect spot to plant…

It’s about scattering the seed in imperfect places,

and allowing God to create the growth.

As we go through life, all of us are scattering seed.

In his address to Congress this week, Pope Francis talked about Thomas Merton.

Thomas Merton was a Cistercian monk in Kentucky.

He was a prolific writer about the contemplative life,

the prayerful life.

One of his most popular books is called, “New Seeds of Contemplation,”

and it’s about this parable of the sower.

Merton says,
“Every moment and every event of every person’s life on earth

Plants something in her or his soul.

For just as the wind carries thousands of winged seeds,

So each moment brings with it germs of spiritual vitality…

Most of these unnumbered seeds perish and are lost….”

Most of these unnumbered seeds perish and are lost.

Most of the time, we toss out seeds of kindness, generosity, and love

And it falls on the hard path, or the rocky soil,

Or gets choked by the thorns…

We could choose to be more discerning…

To throw out our seeds only to people or places where we think

There is good soil, where there will be gratitude,

Where people will do something with our generosity.

But that is not our concern…

We continue to toss seeds because some falls on good soil…

And God will take that seed and we may not know when and we may not know where, but in some places it will have growth –

Even growth of 30, 60, or one hundred fold!

When you came in today,

You received a silver token (if you didn’t get one, pick one up on your way out).

Take a close look at it.

On one side it says the parable of the sower.

On the other side it says 100

-this stands for 100 acts of kindness and generosity.

Over the next year, 12 months, I invite you

to keep this token in your pocket or purse or locker or desk

as a reminder to spread random seeds of kindness or generosity.

There’s roughly 300 days in a year,

So at least once every three days, scatter some seed…

Do something out of the ordinary that is generous…

When you do so, take the token and move it to your other pocket

or put it in another place in your desk as a reminder.

Make it something that takes you out of your way…

That requires a bit of effort.

If you have kids, talk about it.

Last spring I was at a conference

Where they told me about this idea.

At first I thought it was a little hokey..

I mean who needs a token in their pocket to remind them to be generous?

But then at the end of the talk they gave me one…and I realized that I do!

Just having the token in my pocket

Made me look for opportunities to scatter seed…to be more generous…

It made me realize that I tend to be the cautious farmer.

I give to people and places where I’m expecting a good return.

The token reminded me that it’s not my job to choose the soil.

God provides the growth.

Moment by moment we scatter seed.

Most will perish and be lost.

But some will fall on good soil,

Yielding growth of 30, 60, even one hundred fold!

Scatter the seed.

100 acts of generosity in 12 months.

Most of it will be wasted…

But in some..in some God will provide growth we will never see.

Amen.

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