Our minister talked about dandelions in her children’s story. She told the kids that she has heard that Christians are like dandelions. They bow down when the mower goes over them and then stand right back up!
I’m sure there are many people who might consider us to be weeds, popping up all over even where we weren’t planted. Rooted in God, we can survive many types of mowing and then just continue to grow.
Spread your seeds, and show your sunny face to someone this week!
As I was driving up to Montreal last week I drove past countless fields at various stages of planting. Some fields were bare, with the earth prepared and awaiting seed, some were newly planted with a bright fresh crop of green or yellow covering them, some were burned over and likely to be left fallow for the summer, and between them all there were wild areas with an abundance of plant life most would call weeds. What do we see when we look at ourselves, our congregations, families,colleagues etc.? Do we see fertile ground awaiting seed, rows of plants growing to bear seed, or a tangled mess of weeds?
Living Faith 4.2.1 says, “The Spirit enables people to receive the good news of Christ, to repent of their sins, and to be adopted as children of God…the Spirit enabled us to believe.” Living Faith 6.1.2 “God brings us to faith in many ways. We may have trusted in God from childhood; or our faith may have come later in life. Faith may come suddenly or only after a struggle to believe.”
Given these statements, it is clear that it is not really you and I who are bringing people to faith. The job of sowing faith is the work of the Spirit through the Word. It is with this understanding that we come to the parable of the Sower and the Seed this morning ( Matthew 13:1-9 and 18-23).
Have you ever prepared a garden bed? There are many things that need to be removed; sod, old patio stones, weeds, and rocks in the ground. Whether in our own hearts or those of others we’ll need to remove preconceptions and prejudices against Christianity and or the church as an institution, negative prior experiences, hurts, and fears. Some of us have built up walls around our hearts which may take considerable care to break down. Sledge hammers are never called for, and it is important to save all we can of the soil. Our primary tools for this work are our open minds, our love, compassion and our listening skills. Once cleared, we add fertilizer of some kind in order to aid in the growth of the plants. Here we apply such offerings as Sunday School, Bible studies, service groups, book clubs, VBS, and of course heartfelt weekly worship. Even if all hearts are already prepared to receive the Word, care needs to be taken over time to watch out for and remove any weeds which may come up and attempt to take over, and the weeds are many and insidious.
I can easily justify my lack of follow-through in my garden at home. After all, if I don’t support the local farmers by buying their produce I am contributing to the economic decline, right? The problem is, at the end of the day I will still have the hearty crop of weeds there reminding me daily of my failure. There will, however be another spring and another chance to get the job done properly. Those of us in the church would do well to
remember that only ¼ of the seed in the parable turned out to be productive. Numbers are not everything! The number of people in the pews on Sunday, the number of children in Sunday school each week, the total number of families and members, don’t need to cause stress. When they are high we may be on the top of the world and feel that we are truly doing the work of the Kingdom, and when they are low we may fear for the survival of our congregation. Even if our programs or events seem less successful than we would like, so long as one plot of soil was readied, or one seed planted we have done well.
Whatever Kingdom gardening we may be doing, we need to remember to take time out to praise and worship the Father who has sown the word in our lives, the Son who is that word, and the Spirit who inspires us to listen.
Living Faith is the Statement of Christian Belief of the Presbyterian Church in Canada and can be downloaded at http://www.presbyterian.ca/resources/online/2447
Posted in Bible Study, Faith, Lectionary, Reflections
Tagged attendance, Bible, Bible study, blog, change, Christianity, church, details, distractions, faith, God, help, Holy Spirit, improvement, Jesus, Kingdom, listening skills, Living Faith, love, Matthew 13:1-9 and 18-23, numbers, patio stones, Presbyterian Church, Presbyterian Church in Canada, problems, promise, rocks, sledge hammers, Statement of Christian Belief, Sunday school, survival, weeds, worship
What is it about this picture which is so appealing? The colours are great! The green is so rich, the yellow so bright and sunny, the blue of the sneakers whimsical, and the little pink line around the toe is a lovely touch. Did the makers of Converse sneakers have this sort of thing in mind when they designed these shoes? I’m pretty sure they did not.
Maybe the appeal comes from imagining the fun the person is having who has stepped out of these sneakers on this bright sunny day. Maybe lying on a blanket in the sun with a good book, or no book at all just enjoying the feeling of summer. Perhaps running around enjoying the feeling of the fresh grass under foot.
Whatever feeling or ideas are evoked by such a picture they are bound to be positive and that is just what is called for as we come into the holiday weekend that really begins summer in North America.
Posted in Reflections
Tagged all stars, barefoot, colour, converse, converse all stars, dandelions, good book, grass, holiday, long weekends, photography, sneakers, Summer, sun, weeds
Garden at Kings Landing
Today I turned the soil on my kitchen garden (vegetable garden). I am gradually reclaiming a large area of garden which I had previously allow to grow over with a really strong perennial which spreads by root runners. Two years later I have only managed to get 1/2 of it back and that doesn’t mean that those weeds don’t still come up in the spring. Once I have it all cleared, add some compost and maybe some peat moss it will be time to pound in stakes, wire supports for vine climbing plants etc. In short, I have around a week to plot, that is make plans, for organizing my plot, that is the garden area.
God is often characterized as a gardener. In Genesis 2 we read of him planting a garden and placing man and woman there. He planted every tree that was pleasant of good for food as well as the tree of knowledge. He later walks in the garden at night and it is then that he “discovers” that Adam and Eve have sinned by eating of the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil. As a result of this they are rejected from the garden and, among other consequences, they will have to toil in the soil to provide food for their survival.
Throughout Jesus’ life and ministry he goes to gardens to pray and he tells nine parables about vineyards and gardens in the Gospels. There is a focus on the seeds in two, one of which is the Parable of the Sower which includes a discussion of the results of sowing seeds in different soil preparation and weeds. Jesus’ final garden experience was that of being buried in a garden tomb and then rising and leaving the tomb three days later. The first person to see him, Mary, assumes that he is the gardener.
Regardless of what plans I make for our garden at my home and how well I manage to follow through with them, I know that God has done it all before and that it is only through his creation that I am here, that there is soil in which to plant, that I have seeds to plant, that the sun encourages growth, and that rain falls to feed them. I am free to plot, but the ultimate plan is not for me to make, it has been in place for all time through God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Amen
Posted in Reflections
Tagged Bible, Christianity, compost, garden, Garden of Eden, God, love, parable of the sower, plot, promise, reflection, vegetable, weeds