The Church building is closed today due to weather. Please email us at if you need help with anything.

The Sower

A farmer went out to sow his seed…

Jesus begins his series of parable stories recorded in Matthew 13 with these words.  Picture Jesus in a boat just offshore teaching a large crowd gathered on the hills rising up out of the Sea of Galilee.  Nearby, a farmer is working in his fields, casting seed, hoping, even expecting a good harvest in the weeks to come.  That seed falls on the good soil… and the not so good.  As the story goes, the seed that falls on the path is eaten by the birds.  The seed that falls on the thin, rocky soil sprouts quickly, but is soon withered by the sun.  The seed that falls among the thorns finds its early growth choked by the weeds.  Thankfully, some of the seed falls on the good soil, where it flourishes, producing a crop 100, 60, or 30 times what was sown.  (Matthew 13:1-9)  How many times have we heard this story?  On Sunday, the question that was asked in the sermon was: “How is your soil today?”  Our honest answer might find some of us rather uncomfortable.

Today, I want to share a story of seed that seemed to fall on the bad soil, but in time found good opportunity to sprout and flourish.  This story has given me hope again and again that the Sower’s seed is so good, and the Sower is so faithful, that even the bad soil can be redeemed for our good and His glory…

The story begins in a suburb of Philadelphia where a little boy was born into a pastor’s family.  That little one grew in the love of his family and the embrace of the church.  What a wonderful cocoon of love and nurture.  But you know what they say about pastor’s children… and often they are right.  This little one was trouble from the beginning.  Colic as a baby… terrible twos… testy threes… and that was just the beginning.  To call this little boy ‘strong willed’ was to put it mildly.  He believed in testing every limit, opposing every authority, challenging every good idea… The church community watched as his mother tried to keep him in line while his father was busy growing a small country church into a powerful mainline witness in the Philadelphia suburbs.  By his teens, many had given up hope that this young man would ever make good on the gifts that God had given him.  In the parable of the Sower, it looked like the seed had fallen among thorns and was quickly being choked.

The details of the story go hazy for a while as the young man left home for some rowdy college years and beyond.  His father eventually retired and moved to Florida.  The church continued on as churches do… one pastor after the next… though none of them could hold a candle to the beloved pastor who had fathered that wayward son.  Years passed, and the church was once again searching for a pastor when to their surprise, an application came from that same wayward son.  In those intervening years, he had come to faith and gone to Princeton Seminary.  He had served a series of smaller, then mid-size churches, and now was ready for the ‘big leagues.’  Would his childhood church be willing to consider him as a possible fit for their church now?  Some of the committee voted to invite him for an interview out of respect for his father- their beloved pastor from years past.  Some of the committee voted to invite him out of curiosity- could that wayward child have actually made something good of himself?

When he came, they gave him a tour of the church and showed him the hole in the wall where, as a teen, he had expressed his anger with a punch.  The church had decided not to ‘fix’ the hole, leaving it as a teachable example.  [One has to wonder what they were teaching.]  He smiled at the memory.  “I was a bit of a challenge back then.”  Some on the committee quietly thought that was an understatement.  None of the committee thought much would come from the interview that day until the once-wayward son began to talk.  Two months later, John Galloway, Jr. stood in the pulpit of Wayne Presbyterian Church to preach his candidating sermon, beginning a powerful new chapter in the life of that church.  During John’s pastorate, Wayne Presbyterian Church grew and deepened, going from a strong mainline church to a powerful, missional witness in the whole of Philadelphia.  Under his leadership, Wayne Presbyterian began City Lights, a ministry to people in southwest Philadelphia.  Under his leadership, Wayne Presbyterian Church conducted a capital campaign that raised 2 million dollars.  Every penny of that fund went to renovate a church in Kingsessing, to create a community center called the Common Place to serve southwest Philadelphia.  The partnership between Wayne Presbyterian Church and Cornerstone Christian Academy and the Common Place have helped to transform one of the most embattled areas in the city.

Imagine all those Sunday School teachers and Vacation Bible School volunteers who struggled with John in their classes.  Imagine how many worship services were disturbed by John’s bad behavior.  Imagine how many times John raced through their Fellowship Hall upsetting the conversations of coffee hour.  I’m sure there were many who concluded that he was a ‘bad seed’… or in the terms of Jesus’ parable… ‘bad soil.’  But, in those important formational years, the faith community of Wayne Presbyterian Church did not give up sowing the good seed of the gospel.  Imagine how many lives have been saved… changed… redeemed… because God worked those seeds into a wayward heart.  The harvest from John’s life has been more than a 100-fold!  I’m hoping that his story encourages us to be part of God’s faithful sowing in the lives of our children, and their children, and their children’s children… in the lives of our neighbor’s children… and in the lives of our city’s children.  As we are the Sower’s hands, we trust the One “who can do immeasurable more than all we ask or imagine.” (Ephesians 3:20)

With you and the Sower out in the field… seed in hand,  
Posted in

No Comments