In reflecting on this coming Sunday's gospel lesson, Matthew 13:1--23, I am again amazed at the extravagant generosity of our God. The sower casts seed on all types of unpromising soil, hard, rocky, weedy, and, yes, fertile, in hope that there will be a harvest. God has done this in Jesus, who was born as one of us and died for all of us, including those who put him to death (of course we are all implicated, because it was our sin that nailed God's Son to the cross). Many great Christians began from some pretty unpromising soil. St. Mary Magdalene was a woman who suffered from demonic possession who became the first evangelist, proclaiming the risen Christ to the other disciples. St. Peter was a cursing and headstrong fisherman, who shared the gospel with a powerful testimony that eventually led him to Rome and death by crucifixion (upside down on a cross). St. Paul was a persecutor of Christians, but through a confrontation with the risen Christ sowed the gospel among the gentiles, formerly cut off from God. St. Augustine was in his youth a hedonist, skeptic, and social climber, who became the greatest Christian thinker of the ancient world. St. Patrick was kidnapped and enslaved, but later led by God to sow the Gospel among his former captors in Ireland. Fanny Crosby suffered blindness shortly after birth but later became a prolific hymn writer (among her compositions was "Blessed Assurance"). Dwight L. Moody was sent to a workhouse as a child to support his family and as a young adult was first rejected for membership in the Congregational Church of Mt. Vernon, Massachusetts, but later became the greatest evangelist of the late 19th century (Moody was described by a Sunday school teacher as a suspect applicant for church membership who was deemed "unlikely ever to become a Christian of clear and decided gospel truths, still less to fill any extended sphere of public usefulness"). God can use some pretty poor stuff to spread the saving knowledge and love of Christ and enlarge God's kingdom. Our imperfections, hard, rocky, weedy, are no barrier to God remaking us as bearers of the good news. What is needed is the ability to be open to Christ's call upon our lives, knowing that it is not our power, but that of Christ, who can turn good soil into bad, producing a "hundredfold" for the kingdom.