The Parable of the Sower
The above fresco, The Parable of the Sower, is the centerpiece of the chapel at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary in Charlotte, North Carolina. Painted by artist Gerald Steinmeyer, the work measures 17x20 feet, towering over gathered worshippers (I took this picture from the balcony - to get a better feel for its size click here).
This painting beautifully depicts the parable we will engage this Sunday, July 16th with our friend, church planter Len Tang of Missio Community Church. As we see in Matthew 13, the Sower scatters seed everywhere: Along the path, on rocky places, among thorns, and on good soil.
But, the strength of this fresco - like the parable which inspires it - is not just its skillful depiction of the Sower. The strength of this work of art is its ability to communicate the result of the Sower's scattered seeds.
On the far left, we see what happens when the birds snatch away the seed of God's Word before its recipients take the time to understand it. Just to the right, it falls on the rocky places and springs up quickly. Notice the man's eyes: He's looking elsewhere. Just right of center stands a wealthy couple, whose "worries of this life and the deceitfulness of wealth choke the word, making it unfruitful."
Only on the far right are men and women rejoicing that the abundance of God's Word has produced a crop. While the couple next to them are adorned in fancy blue clothes, their gaze is downward, toward the thorns. Only those on the far right look to the Sower with joy. And only they wear purple, the color of royalty, befitting a child in the family of God.
Lastly, notice what spills out of the fresco and into the chapel: The Sower, who walks toward us, continuing to scatter his seed. And if the Sower continues scattering seed, notice what else spills out into our world: The harvest!
As the Sower says elsewhere: "The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few." (Matthew 9.37)