Following God’s Path and Plan – Seeds
Psalm 78:1-7

Just over a week ago we remembered our fallen soldiers with ANZAC day services and marches.  So today I want to share a story of a fallen digger from the First World War.  Moreton Stanley Noble enlisted in the army on June 29 1915, he had apparently like many others at the time falsified his date of birth.  He began his service with the 10th Battalion before being transferred to the 50th Battalion.  He was promoted to the rank of Company Sergeant Major.  In June 1916 he disembarked in Marseilles in the south of France.  His battalion was involved in the battle at Moquet Farm in August 1916 and then in mid-1917 the legendary battle of Ypres in Belgium.  On 25 April 1918 the third anniversary of the landing at Gallipoli Moreton’s battalion were involved in a counter attack as they attempted to dislodge the enemy near Villers-Brettonneux in north-eastern France.  During this engagement he was killed, and was buried where he died, but was later moved to the Adelaide cemetery, near Villers-Brettoneux.

This story is not so different to hundreds of other diggers who served in the various conflicts in Australia’s history. It’s these stories that are usually recounted on ANZAC day or Remembrance Day.  So why have I chose Moreton Stanley Noble’s story to share with you today, because he was my wife’s great uncle.  When we hear a story like this one it is sad and has an impact on us, but when it is a part of our family history one man’s story becomes our story, it moves from the head to the heart, it makes us proud but also connects us to the time and the place and the person.  It has become our story, to the extent that we are seriously considering making the trip to France in 2018 for the 100th anniversary of the battle that took the life of Moreton Stanley Noble and hundreds of others.  It’s important to pass on stories like this, and that we teach our children and their children about our history and what made us who we are today.

The psalmist who wrote Psalm 78 was encouraging his people to do exactly that, to teach the lessons of the past, things they have heard and known things that their ancestors told them, and to tell the next generation the stories.  But not just any stories, they were being encouraged to pass on the stories of God’s interaction and connection with his people.  This is God’s story but it’s also their story and as descendants of these our ancestors it’s our story too.

Each week our readings from the Bible, which is far more than just a history book, lay out for us the events that took place that shaped God’s people, events and people that have shaped us into who we are and what we believe.  As we read and hear these stories how do we engage with them, do we read them as some interesting history that has been handed down from generation, do we hear them and pass them down to our own generation and beyond, do we take those stories and claim them as our own, have they made it from our head knowledge into the core of our heart and soul?

One of the greatest challenges a preacher or a teacher faces is to take a story that was passed along verbally for a long time, then written down and reproduced over and over again throughout the centuries and apply it to the lives of those of us living here and now.  Some say that we shouldn’t go to the trouble of trying to apply it to our context, we should simply hear it and believe it and live out our lives in response to it.  But then does it really engage us, does it become a part of us, so much so that we get excited by it and want to live it and experience it for ourselves?

One way of engaging with God and with his word is through spiritual storytelling.  Have you ever taken the time to sit and reflect on your story and how God has been a part of that story?  One of our assignments at Seminary was to interview someone and have them tell us their spiritual journey kind of like a spiritual biography.  Taking the time to think about where God has been active in their life and taking notice of those times.

Our parable today is a bit like a template or even explanation of what a spiritual story can look like.  The seed (God’s Word) is scattered throughout the people of the world.  Some of those people who hear God’s word are at the time and place in their life where they are on the path, and then the devil comes along and steals the word away from their hearts, so that they won’t believe and be saved.  Then there are those who are on the rock at the time of hearing the word and they receive it with joy initially but then as a time of testing comes they fall away.  Then there are the ones who are among the thorns when they hear and the troubles of life or the riches and pleasures that distract them causes their faith not to mature.  Then finally are the ones who as they have heard were in good soil, things were right for them and they heard the word and it has been retained and by persevering it will produce a good crop.

At any given point in life each and every one of us could well have been on a path, rocks or thorns, but for many of us we have been blessed to be in a place where the word has taken hold in us and has begun to produce a crop.  The seed of God’s word needs to be spread or sown continually in the world, passed down from generation to generation, expressing life’s experiences of paths and rocky places and thorns as well as the ultimate place of having it take hold.  As we reflect on our lives, our spiritual story we may see when and where these phases in life have been, or where we’ve come into contact with others who have been in any one of those situations in their lives.

At some stage some significant other in your life cared enough to share with you and it was the right time.  It is your story, your unique story; no one can change that story.  Continue to live your story, share your story with others, share God’s story with others, so that it can become their story, a story that holds intrigue, connection to God’s word, rather than confusion or disinterest.

God’s story is a story of suffering and death, but it’s also a story of new life given to us through him.  What does that mean for you and your story, how will you respond?